Contestants line up for start of Spelling Bee parish finals today
The first week of The Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee competition kicks off at noon today at the Morant Bay Parish Church in St Thomas.
Over the next two weeks, parish finals will be held in each parish, ending on October 7 in St Andrew at the Girl Guides Association of Jamaica.
This year, more than 400 students have registered to be part of the 58th staging of the competition with hopes of becoming a parish champion to advance to the national finals with a chance at following in the footsteps of Chaunte Blackwood and many others who have represented Jamaica internationally.
Blackwood, of Ardenne High School, took the 2016 national title with Hanif Brown as coach.
Brown, a student himself, took to coaching Blackwood after the death of the Reverend Glen Archer, who coached both students.
Blackwood finished in the finals among 45 students at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, held in Washington, DC - a stellar achievement in a competition of more than 200 spellers.
The Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee is open to all Jamaican students under the age of 14 who would not have passed grade eight by August 30, 2017, and who have not sat any external examination that would matriculate them higher than that grade. The national finals take place in February of next year.