Scripps honours Glen Archer
A special tribute honouring Jamaica's Reverend Glen Archer will be front and centre today, when the on-stage rounds of the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee kicks off at the Maryland Ballroom at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor in Maryland, United States.
In memory of the indelible impact the late spelling coach extraordinaire had, not only on Jamaica's spelling bee, but the international stage, the Scripps organisers will mount a floral arrangement in the Jamaican colours that will be prominently featured for the duration of the two-day on-stage rounds - today and tomorrow.
"The Scripps National Spelling Bee was deeply saddened upon hearing the news of Reverend Archer's passing. And with this year's competition coming soon after his death, we wanted to do something to honour his memory," Valerie Miller, corporate communications manager for the E.W. Scripps Company, told The Gleaner yesterday.
"So we have done a beautiful floral arrangement in the colours of Jamaica to honour Archer and to be a constant presence on stage, so that as people watch our newest class of spellers, there will be that ever-present memory of Archer and what he meant to the spelling bee, not only in Jamaica, but here at the [US] national level as well."
She continued: "He meant so much to Jamaica, and really developed that programme and helped so many students to be not only incredible spellers, but also the fact that all of his spellers were so respectful of the judges and the competition, that they really have always long been favourites of the audience because of that level of respect that they have shown for others, for themselves, and for their country."
Archer, who had coached students for The Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee championship since 1986 and produced 26 national champions, died on February 15 from kidney failure.
In 1997, Archer took the first Jamaican entrant, Jason James, to the Scripps in Washington, D.C., where he placed eighth. A year later, he reaped big rewards when Jamaican Jody-Anne Maxwell took the Scripps National Spelling Bee championship title with the winning word C-h-i-a-r-o-s-c-u-r-i-s-t. Since then, Archer took several national spelling bee champions to the top 10 at the Scripps.
This year, one of his students, 13-year-old Sara-Beth McPherson, is representing Jamaica at the international competition. She joins 284 spellers from around the world vying for the title of the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion. The competition ends tomorrow.
HONOURING A STALWART
"People here have been expressing how very fond they were of Reverend Archer. They deeply respected him. He was very much loved, and they all wanted to honour him and pay remembrance to him. They thought the floral arrangement in the Jamaican colours was a thoughtful and proper way to do that," said Miller.
She said Scripps Week had been going quite well and the spellers were all geared-up for the final phase.
The on-stage preliminary rounds for today will be aired live on ESPN 3, while the semi-finals for tomorrow morning will be live on ESPN 2 and the finals tomorrow night will be live on ESPN.