Rajdale Calloo, Spelling Bee winner for the parish of Clarendon. - Ian Allen/Staff Photographer
Meet another parish champion in this year's Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee competition. The national finals take place on February 6 and 7 at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
Sacha Walters, Staff Reporter
SITTING ON a tiny kindergarten class chair, Rajdale Calloo does not stand out among the group of four and five-year-old students, even though he is in grade five.
When he rises from his seat, there is not much difference in the 10-year-old's presence as he stands approximately four feet tall. However, this small boy has achieved a big goal, that of winning the Clarendon parish finals for The Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee competition.
Rajdale, who is well underway with preparations for the national competition in February, was in the middle of a study session with Carmen Williams, his coach. She was helping him with his lessons while teaching her kindergarten class at the Monymusk Preparatory School.
A student of the over 67-year-old institution, Rajdale said he does not know how he managed to beat out students who were not only taller, but older than himself.
"I was very frightened because, you know, so many big children were there," he said. For the national finals, he is nervous about the written spelling segment, where contestants are given 25 words to spell on paper. He, however, has no problem with comprehension and dictation.
Rajdale, who is from the Race Course community in the parish, enjoys watching Tom and Jerry cartoons and playing with his friends. However, cricket and football, his favourite sports, are often sacrificed as his extra time is now only used to study his spelling. His friends sometimes complain.
However, Mrs. Williams, who has been teaching at the school for 26 years, said she usually allows him to play when he wants to.
Brandon Moulton, his 10-year-old best friend, said he is confident Rajdale will do well in the national competition in February.
Rajdale does not only want to excel in the competition, but in life. He wants to be the first doctor in his family.
An oasis for education
For a school which started out as a holding area for employees' children, Monymusk Preparatory in Clarendon is making strides in the educational arena.
The institution has produced this year's parish champion for the Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee competition - Rajdale Calloo.
But this is nothing new for them. The school has produced six winners of this competition in the past.
"It's become a norm. It's something we've come to expect," said principal, Pauline Nicholson.
The highest the school has placed in the national competition is fifth and that was with her daughter Kamarla Nicholson.
The school is an oasis for education, nestled between cane fields and factory buildings inside the sprawling Monymusk property. The land provides as many quiet spots for study as opportunities to play.
The school was established in the 1940s, according to Mrs. Nicholson, who has been principal for 14 years,
It was started by the wife of an English worker at the Monymusk Sugar Plantation and has since grown into what it is today.
With 142 students and eight teachers to lead them, the school has participated in a myriad of activities.
These include athletics, football, Science Quiz, Science Debate, Junior School Challenge Quiz and the KFC Quiz Show.
Mrs. Nicholson, who is also a full-time teacher at the institution, said they are looking to go as far as possible in the spelling competition. "I'm looking to go beyond fifth. I'm looking for him to go the highest we've ever gone."