SPELLING BEE - It's Anouke in St Catherine
Kerry-Ann Hepburn, Children's Own Coordinator
Forty students turned out at the Spanish Town Methodist Church Hall on Thursday, September 25, to compete for the top spot and represent the parish of St Catherine at The Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee national championships in February 2015.
With no defending champion, the title was anybody's to grab. There were a few familiar faces as well as new contenders. After the first few rounds with spell mistress, Marlene Stephenson Dalley, the numbers dwindled and the strongest of the day were left to round out the top 10.
After a break, the spellers lined up before spell master, Dr Clive Lai. Three rounds down, five students out and the top five were announced. They were the clear favourites judging by the thunderous applause from the audience.
Round after round, word after word and two were left standing. Anouke Matthews of Spanish Town Primary and Ajavier Rose of McAuley Primary stood side by side, both confident that they would win.
Rose, a crowd favourite, showed he deserved the acclaim. But a strong challenge came from Matthews who correctly spelled S-A-P-P-H-I-R-E after Rose stumbled. He went on to spell S-O-P-H-I-S-T-I-C-A-T-E-D which won him the title of St Catherine parish champion.
"I feel very happy!" Anouke said as he clutched his trophy to his chest. "I'm glad Mr Reynolds coached me."
Anouke, 11, has been a part of the Spelling Bee competition since the third grade. He is now coached by Jermein Reynolds. Matthews entered the competition last year and finished ninth. This, his coach said, was a major improvement from last year. "Last year was more of an experience for us, but we worked on it."
He also stated that even though transportation was an issue, they took to technology to solve the problem. "Because of the distance the students have to travel, I would sometimes coach over Skype and that helped tremendously."
As for nationals, Anouke has a message for his competitors: "They better be ready, because I'm coming for them."
- Best of the Bee - Top Five in St Catherine
1. Anouke Matthews, Spanish Town Primary
2. Ajavier Rose, McCauley Primary
3. Kayla-Shae Johnson, Spanish Town Primary
4. Qu-Neeka Oueenborough, McCauley Primary
5. Kofi-Ann Knight, Belmont Park Primary
Top Boy: Anouke Matthews, Spanish Town Primary