Skip navigation

Pic 1.jpg 

Spelling Bees Tiebreakers

L-R: Dilan Tatum, Thomas Sevik Jr., Lions Club of Grand Cayman President Ewan Jacques and Acting Chief Education Officer Lyneth Monteith.

The annual national spelling bees ended in tense tiebreakers for both primary and secondary school students at finals held on 1st and 2nd December.

In the 32nd Lions Club of Grand Cayman Secondary Schools Spelling Bee, 14 students vied for the title, with Thomas Sevik Jnr. and Dilan Tatum from Layman E. Scott Snr. High School in Cayman Brac emerging as joint victors after an electrifying tiebreaker round lasting more than an hour.

The boys were each challenged with additional words to see if first place could be decided but a tie was declared when all the words were spelt correctly. Both students successfully spelt 16 words, plus an additional 31 in the tiebreak round.

Third place was secured by Javon Lewinson from Clifton Hunter High School in Grand Cayman.

L-r: Jelani Hanson, Jemma Watson and Deidre Edwards

The RBC Royal Bank Primary Schools Spelling Bee preliminaries took place on 5th and 6th November with a total of 27 students from across the Cayman Islands ready to compete, and two vying for first place in the finals.

After a thrilling 45-minute tiebreaker round, Jemma Watson and Jelani Hanson from George Town Primary School were declared joint winners, having spelt the 16 words from the competition and the 20 tiebreaker words correctly.

There was also a tie for third place so a spell-off was held between Deirdre Edwards from Bodden Town Primary School and Alexander Rhule from Prospect Primary School, with the former winning the round.

In giving the vote of thanks, Mitzie Bailey, MC for the evening and RBC co-ordinator of the RBC Royal Bank Primary Schools Spelling Bee for the past 18 years, said: “This year’s spelling bee was definitely an event not to be missed. What a success it was. On behalf of my employer of 35 years, RBC Royal Bank and sponsor of this national event for 18 years, I say special thanks to all of you, parents, guardians, teachers, coaches, principals, well-wishers, officials, my RBC colleagues and our area vice president and country head, Mr. Omari Corbin, for attending and participating in this event, for supporting the children and making this 18th annual RBC Royal Bank Primary Schools Spelling Bee a huge success.”

Mrs. Bailey also paid tribute to Gloria Bell who was the chief judge at the event, for approaching RBC in 1997 to sponsor the spelling bee competition. She asked the audience to join in applause for Mrs. Bell and all of the members of the Cayman Islands Education Department and Ministry of Education.

She said: “To the students, once again you have shown us your abilities, thank you and well done. We are proud of our community and RBC is committed to the success of the Cayman Islands.”

Changes to this year’s spelling bee included the primary school competition having just two divisions: Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac; failure to spell a word correctly resulted in the student being eliminated in both that round and the competition; and the top 60 per cent of students moved on to the finals.

The fourth round and the tiebreakers came from an additional word bank which included complex words such as philippic, gymkhana, alcazar, barukhzy, weimaraner and cacophony.

“The students’ adapted well to the changes and their level of commitment and the addition of the elimination process brought a different flow to the event,” said Nicki Samuels from the Department of Education. “The calibre of students was incredible and the tiebreaker rounds for both the secondary and primary schools made it even more exciting.”

Ms Samuels also paid tribute to the sponsors of the spelling bee competitions.

“We really have to thank both RBC Royal Bank and the Lions Club of Grand Cayman, who play a vital part in making the competitions so highly anticipated each year,” she added. “Spelling bees are loved by all our students and they play an important role in their overall academic development.”


For further information contact: Suzette Ebanks