John Gray tops Cayman spelling bee

School competitors at the Lions Club of Grand Cayman Secondary Spelling Bee Competition. Seated in front, from left, are Deirdre Edwards, who came in third, winner Toni-Ann Daley, and Jelani Hanson, who was second.

High school students from across the Cayman Islands faced off on Dec. 7 in an exciting competition at Red Bay Holiness Church that put their spelling skills to the test.

After correctly spelling the final word, “cyclamen,” Toni-Ann Daley of John Gray High School emerged the winner of the 33rd annual Lions Club of Grand Cayman Secondary Spelling Bee Competition.

In addition to John Gray, participating schools included Layman E. Scott Sr. High School on Cayman Brac, Clifton Hunter High School, Triple C School and St. Ignatius Catholic School.

Second place went to John Gray student Jelani Hanson, who was joint winner in last year’s primary competition when he was in his final year at George Town Primary School. The third-place winner was Deirdre Edwards of Clifton Hunter High School, who was third at last year’s primary competition when she was a student at Bodden Town Primary School.

According to a press release, the 19th annual RBC Royal Bank Primary Spelling Bee Competition, staged by the Department of Education Services in conjunction with the sponsors, is not just about learning to spell long and complicated words. The contestants also study etymology and learn roots, pronunciations and multiple definitions, leading to better reading comprehension, increased literacy and greater enjoyment of reading, literature and language.

“Today’s secondary schools competition was adrenaline-pumping with students from across the islands vying for the top spot,” said Nicki Samuels, senior customer service officer with the Department of Education Services and organizer of the competition.

“We have come to expect a high standard from our students and this year was no exception,” she added.

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