Manchester boy wins Spelling Bee five years after defeat
While a disappointed Taevion Morgan cried after placing sixth in The Gleaner’s Children’s Own Spelling Bee Championship four years ago, Sharee Morgan immediately sprang into action with one goal: to get her son under the wings of that year’s winning coach, Errol Campbell.
That leap of faith paid off Wednesday as Taevion triumphed over 13 other competitors to take the trophy back to his home parish, Manchester.
In a post-competition interview in a Television Jamaica studio, Taevion proudly held the reward of many hours of labour.
“It’s like it’s not real, for how long I have been doing it, but my hard work has finally paid off,” the excited student of DeCarteret College said after copping the top prize when he correctly spelt the word H-E-B-D-O-M-A-D-A-L over Johnathan Bailey, who erred with the word P-Y-R-R-H-O-N-I-S-M.
Johnathan Bailey (Ardenne High) placed second; Nathan Bailey (McAuley Primary), third; Khalil James (Granville Primary), fourth; and Eve Victoria Williams (Eber Kinder Prep), fifth.
Williams was also awarded Top Girl.
Morgan was still in disbelief that her 12-year-old son had finally fulfilled his ambition.
She recalled tempering his aspirations years ago when he came home one day and declared: “’Mommy, I want to spell.’”
But after cautioning Taevion that he was too young, Morgan yielded to the urgings of the school, which convinced her that he had great potential.
“This is a dream for my son from he was seven years old. He’s 12 years now. It took him five years to achieve the dream,” she told The Gleaner Wednesday.
The road to success was an obstacle course as the distance between Manchester and St Catherine, where Campbell resides, complicated training sessions.
The coronavirus pandemic, with its lockdowns, curfews, and social-distancing disruptions, added to the challenges.
But even with the suspension of face-to-face engagement in the Spelling Bee Championship, Taevion dived into his dictionary.
“When Spelling Bee got put off, Taevion kept on studying. He knew that it would return, and he wanted to be prepared, and he wanted to win. It was mesmerising to see my son work so hard, so diligent, unwavering, day in, day out. Never gave up, never took as much breaks,” his mom said.
“He dragged the entire family with him along this journey. Even when I pleaded with him to take a break, he wouldn’t.”
Coach Campbell said that he was confident of victory and praised Taevion for his grit and gusto.
“He knows what it means to put in hard work. He wasn’t afraid of hard work, so I am really happy for him, really proud of him,” Campbell said.
Despite the challenges posed by the distance between coach and speller, Campbell said the foundation that was laid alleviated some of the stress.
“The truth is that most of the work was done before, so the process was a very interesting one with a lot of sacrifices, but it all adds up for today. We were looking forward to this!” he said.