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Cayman Islands Government

Whatcha! A Tie for First Place!

Royal Bank of Canada's Mrs Mitzi Bailey (left) and Jill Howse (right), with the four champions (from left) Nayo Swan, Anitha Velusamy, Aliyah Linwood and Laura Hynd.

Pint-sized spell masters put on outstanding displays of skill on Tuesday, 10 February, resulting in a four-way tie for first place during the annual spelling bee - a first in the contest's history.

Perhaps even more impressive, each of the four students had a perfect score - resulting in co-sponsor Royal Bank of Canada committing to donating three additional laptop computers to the champions.

And if that wasn't enough excitement for the cheering audience, there also was a three-way tie for the third-place award. Jubilant at the students' performances, the crowd gave them a standing ovation, and the teachers and education officials covered them with words of praise.

The students were all winners!  At the right are the Minister of Education, the Hon. Alden McLaughlin; and Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler. Representing Royal Bank are (far left) Mitzi Bailey, and (2nd from right) Jill Howse.

Sponsored by the bank and the Department of Education Services, the students competed in the contest for the public primary schools.

The top finishers were the Creek and Spot Bay Primary duo Anitha Velusamy and Nayo Swan; John A. Cumber's Aliyah Linwood; and Grace Christian Academy's Laura Hynd.

David Forbes of Savannah Primary placed second. Tying for third place were Prospect Primary's Joshua Thompson; Cayman Academy's Mariah Webb; and Montessori by the Sea's Sabrina Silva.

The audience expressed its appreciation.

In the packed Mary Miller Memorial Hall, facing relatives and school staff, a total of 12 students breezed through brain twisters like mayonnaise,incognito, vespiaries, tetrahedron, and even palindromes like kayak. They sought definitions and word origins as they vied for thesauruses, trophies and of course, the laptop.

"I don't think I've been in a spelling bee where the competition has been so keen, and the students have done so very, very well!" said the Education Minister, the Hon. Alden McLaughlin. "It is important to let them know what it means to their futures when they do well."

He and Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler expressed their pleasure at the high standards, as well as for the hard work and preparations of the students, teachers and parents. They especially thanked Royal Bank for agreeing to donate the three additional computers to the winners. Additional trophies will also be ordered for the tied third-place students.

The bank was represented by two senior managers - Ms. Mitzi Bailey and Ms. Jill Howse - as well as several staff members who assisted with refreshments.

Veteran educator and current Learning Community Leader Herbert Crawford also was enthusiastic about the results.

"These are the highest standards ever! I can't remember another year when four children tied with perfect scores," he said. "We spend so much time focusing on the negatives, but tonight is a wonderful night for our children."

The overall results, by school, were:

  1. Creek and Spot Bay - 88 points;
  2. Savannah - 58 points;
  3. Prospect - 55 points;
  4. George Town - 55 points;
  5. Grace Christian Academy - 50 points;
  6. John A. Cumber - 47 points;
  7. Cayman Academy - 40 points; and
  8. Montessori by the Sea - 36 points.

The high school finals take place tonight at 6:00 p.m., at Mary Miller Memorial Hall.

For further information contact: Lennon Christian