When the competition ended Tuesday night (1 December) at the Mary Miller Memorial Hall, three students from three different schools had won first place.
It was an ecstatic grand finale for judges, secondary teachers, students, family and friends attending the Department of Education Services and Lions Club of Grand Cayman 26th annual Spelling Bee competition. All eight students competing were winners.
Students Nayo Swan from Cayman Brac High, Bernard Ebanks, Heritage High and Moesha Ramsay Howell from Pace High schools were the first-place winners.
Lions Club members were stumped when it came to handing out the top trophy and the grand prize: a laptop computer, compliments of LIME. Apparently they had not come prepared for so many winners.
That was when Herbert Crawford, one of the judges announcing the results, decided he would make sure he secured three more laptops before the audience got away.
His tender plea worked. LIME Country Manager Anthony Ritch came through with two more laptops and George Town MLA Alden McLaughlin promised two more trophies.
But at the primary finals on Wednesday night, Mr. Crawford said that the judges had made an error.
Laura Hynd from Triple C School, announced as a second place winner, was actually a first place winner. Apparently she had spelt a word correctly because the word could be spelt two ways but it her spelling had not been allowed on the night.
Mr. Crawford said Laura Hynd would receive a laptop and trophy as soon as they found a donor.
‘The students made history this evening, they are all winners,’ said Mr. Crawford beaming with pride.
Students Anitha Velusammy from Cayman Brac High and David Forbes, from Pace High School tied for second place with one point less than the winners.
Third place went to Japhia Augustine also from Pace High and Sean-Anna Thompson claimed fourth place for John Gray High School.
In the eyes of Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler all the students who participated in the spelling bee contest were winners.
She said she understood this was a gruelling affair for participants, which required strong nerves, quick wit and iron self control and she was proud of the accomplishments they had achieved so far. To the parents she said, be calm, as she shared their anxiety for the children to perform well.
Lion President Deborah Ebanks said it had been exciting preliminaries and the results were excellent. She also said sponsorship for the contest was down but they still had a lot of support. ‘What is important is that we must make sure students get these opportunities to excel,’ she added.
Thirty-seven students from various schools, including Cayman Brac, competed for the coveted trophy, prizes and first-ever Premier’s Championship Shield.
The annual spelling bee was co-ordinated by the Education Department, with significant support from the Lions Club and the private sector.