The Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee competition kicks off today with parish finals in St Elizabeth and Manchester.
In St Elizabeth, spellers will vie for a spot in the national finals, starting at 9 a.m. at the St Matthew's Anglican Church.
In Mandeville, the competition will get under way around 3 p.m. at the Mandeville Parish Church.
Gleaner Corporate Affairs Officer Terry-Ann Wilson noted that the competition was open to all children up to age 14 who had not passed grade eight on February 1.
"Over the years, we have always had an increase in the number of persons who participate. Last year, we had 750 students. We haven't finished tallying the numbers just yet, but we are expecting, this year, the number will be equal or there will be an increase," Wilson said. "A boy and a girl will be chosen from each school because we don't want to have more of one than the other," she said.
"We want to make students as comfortable as possible. We will be giving each contestant a token because we don't want anybody to leave feeling a loser," she added.
CONTRIBUTING TO EDUCATION
Wilson also said the aim was to continue contributing to education in Jamaica and to promote a level of discipline among students.
"Over the years, we have seen the growth in students, especially in terms of discipline, because these students have to find time for their schoolwork and dedicate hours just the same to training for the competition," she said.
"We have seen where a number of the students have made strides over the years. Many of them have done exceptionally well in their CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations) and other academic pursuits, and this is something we want to continue," she said.