Eleuthera student wins spelling bee
Twelve-year-old Central Eleuthera High School student Johnathan Randall emerged victorious at the 21st Bahamas National Spelling Bee at Atlantis yesterday, beating competitors by spelling “amphivorous” correctly.
This was Johnathan’s third year participating in the event.
The win came in the 14th round, after almost three and a half hours of competition.
“[I feel] overwhelmed. I can’t believe it. It’s really an honor,” said Johnathan, minutes after receiving the top award.
“I couldn’t believe that I actually got a word that I knew and it was so hard, but yet I was still able to put the pieces together.”
Johnathan said for him, “amphivorous” and “myocardiograph” were the hardest words he was asked to spell during the competition, noting that he could have easily missed a letter and been disqualified.
He said he spent the past two days inside his hotel room practicing his words with his mom, who is also his coach, taking breaks only to eat.
Asked how long he has been preparing for the competition, Johnathan said, “Too long, but I guess in the end it was all worth it.”
He said even though this was his third time in the competition and he didn’t want to do it at first, “My mom had a very deep belief in me that I could have done it and sure enough I did.”
“I just kept pursuing even though I had failed the first two times,” Johnathan said.
“Well, the first time I had a very high fever and the second time I was half asleep, but third time is a charm.”
Johnathan’s mother, Stella Randall, said she was so nervous watching her son on stage while he was spelling, that she was starting to have chest pains and had to calm herself down.
She said she watched in excitement when he got his words right, exclaiming, “Every time he got up there I couldn’t spell his words. I’m overexcited.”
She too noted that Johnathan was not as enthused to compete again for a third time.
“He really didn’t want to do it this year and I said, ‘Johnathan, we have to do it; if you win for Eleuthera, we get a free vacation’ and now we’re going to Washington. I talked him into it and we pushed.”
Randall said although she was Johnathan’s coach for the competition, she hopes the Ministry of Education will provide someone to work with him because, “I got him this far, but this is a joke compared to what [Washington] will be.”
In addition to an all-expense-paid trip to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., Johnathan won $750 spending money, a laptop, a one-year subscription to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award ($100 U.S. savings bond), a watch and a cell phone.
Johnathan said he looks forward to being able to get on the stage in Washington and hopes to do well while representing his country.
“It’s been a long road winning spelling bees in primary school and high school and districts, since representing my island in the national spelling bee, and finally I’ve come through successful and won,” he said.
“I feel very overwhelmed and confident in myself and that gives me the feeling to pursue anything else that I want to do.”
Shreya Meena, 11, a fifth grade student at St. Andrew’s International School took home second place and Pablo Smith, 10, a sixth grader at Moss Town Primary School won third place.
Both Shreya and Pablo will accompany Johnathan to Washington.
The Nassau Guardian is a sponsor of the spelling bee.