Students get set for two-day spelling bee

It’s bee season in the Cayman Islands as children brush up on obscure words like “autochthonous” and “serrefine” in preparation for the annual spelling bee.

“Everyone is looking forward to these adrenaline-pumping competitions,” said Senior Customer Service Officer Nicki Samuels of the Department of Education Services.

The event kicks off with the annual Lion’s Club of Grand Cayman Secondary Spelling Bee Competition on Dec. 7. The annual RBC Royal Bank Primary Spelling Bee Competition follows on Dec. 8.

Both bees are open to the public, and will take place at Red Bay Church of God on Selkirk Drive in Grand Cayman starting at 9.30 a.m.

The bees are open to students in public, private and home schools throughout the islands. Primary school competitors should be no older than 11 as of Sept. 1, while secondary school spellers must be younger than 15 on the same date.

New this year, competition for each group will take place on one day only, and schools from each of the three islands will compete at the same time in their age class.

Last year, both bees ended in ties after two students found themselves going head to head. Jemma Watson and Jelani Hanson from George Town Primary School tied to win their age group, while Thomas Sevik, Jr. and Dilan Tatum from Layman E. Scott Senior High School in Cayman Brac won the secondary school competition.

According to the Department of Education Services, which puts on the event, the benefit to students goes beyond memorizing obscure words like “Gesellschaft,” the winning word in the 2016 Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. Children also learn roots, pronunciations and multiple definitions. Studying for the bee increases their reading comprehension and promotes a lifelong love of language and literature, a press release states.

The Cayman Islands bee is modeled on the Gleaner’s Children’s Own Spelling Bee, held annually in Jamaica.

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