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Senior Spellers Roar

(Front row) Spelling champion Venkatta Batta (centre) with Moesha Ramsay-Howell (left) and Joshua Dilbert.  Standing behind the winners are (left to right) Mr Joseph Biggs of British American Insurance; Education Minister, the Hon. Alden McLaughlin; Lion Natasha Bodden; Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler; and Lions President Anthony Ritch.

An 11-year-old student, Venkatta Batta, breezed by his competition to win the high school level of the national spelling bee with a perfect score.

Indicative of the high standards, a spell-off was required to break the tie for second/third place.

The annual event took place at Mary Miller Memorial Hall on Wednesday, 11 February, and was attended by students, relatives and school staff. As the winner, Venkatta walked away with a laptop computer and a trophy. This year-seven student from Cayman Brac High was also a major contributor to his school's winning the Lions/ British American School Trophy.

The top students with officials, and a pride of Lions.

In a tense showdown, and only after correctly spelling the French word bÍte noire (meaning dark beast), was Moesha Ramsay-Howell of PACE High School named the second-place winner. Joshua Dilbert of Cayman Brac High placed third.

Other finalists were Bennard Ebanks, representing Heritage High; Janelle Taylor of New Horizons; and Japhia Augustine of PACE. They braced for jawbreakers like braggadocio, abiogenesis and triturate.

While this was Venkatta's shining moment as a freshman in high school, he is familiar with the spelling circuit. Last year he won the primary-level competition. On his first foray, when he was in year four, he placed fourth.

A typical Brac student, Venkatta enjoys reading. He's just finished two classic adventure books: Robin Hood and Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

The spelling bee was again hosted by the Department of Education Services, in conjunction with the Lions Club of Grand Cayman and British American Insurance - both of which have been sponsors for more than 25 years.

Lions President Anthony Ritch and many other uniformed members were also present, as was British American representative Mr Joseph Biggs.

Education Minister, the Hon. Alden McLaughlin, commended the finalists for their composure under extreme stress, and expressed his delight that they are "all my students." The six finalists all attend the public school system.

Mrs Marcia Muttoo served as spellmaster.

Noted Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler, "A teacher's greatest joy is watching children grow and develop." Noting her pleasure at seeing young people strive for excellence, she especially commended the young men participating in the event.

The overall high school results, by school, were:

  1. Cayman Brac High - 73 points;
  2. PACE High - 66 points;
  3. New Horizons High - 47 points; and
  4. Heritage High - 42 points.

Similarly outstanding performances were demonstrated at the primary school bee held the evening before, on 10 February.

For further information contact: Lennon Christian