Kerry-Ann Hepburn, Children's Own Coordinator
MORANT BAY, St Thomas:THIRTY SPELLERS braved rain and minor flooded roadways on Monday to kick off the second leg of The Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee competition.
Shielding themselves with umbrellas and raincoats, the spellers, coaches and supporters all huddled themselves into the Morant Bay Parish Church after the church hall was found leaking, rendering it unusable.
With the spellers lined up and the audience settled down, it was time to start the show, and spell-mistress Marlene Stephenson Dalley kicked off the seventh spelldown of the parish finals with the first word in the Spelling Bee book, 'A-B-A-N-D-O-N-E-D'.
Under a light drizzle, the spellers got into a rhythm. Three rounds down and a few misspells later, and the top 10 was decided. After an intense round of words, the strongest contenders and the ones left in line were to be the top five. Soon after, Ranoldo Brown of Seaforth Primary was announced champion boy. With their numbers decreasing, and a half hour later, there were two.
Though it seemed champion boy Ranoldo was on the ball, Nickalia Weise, representing Middleton Primary School, was not fazed, and made light work of spelling the championship word, 'M-A-S-C-U-L-I-N-I-T-Y'.
Upon hearing that, the coaches Lorraine Hill-Passley and Jacqueline Hendricks-Wilmot jumped from their seats with excitement, and amid hugs and congratulations, the shy Nickalia was almost in tears.
"I told her she would do it," said co-coach Hendricks-Wilmot. "During the break, I didn't speak to her, I signalled to her, and she understood exactly what I said, 'Number one,' and she has done it."
What coach Hill-Passley calls a collective effort has brought joy not only to her, but also to the school.
"I am so excited," she said as she hugged the parish champion.
This is Nickalia's first time at the bee, but the school has experienced prior wins.
The Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee is presented in association with Jamaica National Building Society as well as Tastee, Wisynco, and Continental Baking Company who are our contributors.
1. Nickalia Weise, Middleton Primary School.
2. Ranoldo Brown, Seaforth Primary School.
3. Aseanee Brown, Old Pera Primary School.
4. Shantae Stewart, Duckenfield Primary School.
5. Amani Buchanan, Duckenfield Primary School.
Top Boy: Ranoldo Brown, Seaforth Primary School.