Roy Seligman is LCIS’ first national spelling champion
It was a nail-biting experience that saw Roy Seligman do battle with four people in the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) Spelling Bee championship to claim the third and final spot to advance to the National Spelling Bee championship.
A tie-breaker really got him the last slot for the nationals. Last Sunday the slate was wiped clean, and all spellers, no matter where they finished, started out level once again in the battle for the national title. In the final analysis, Roy topped the field to earn the right to represent The Bahamas at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Roy, a Lyford Cay International School (LCIS) 10-year-old fourth grade student correctly spelt the word “queendom” — a word he had seen prior to the competition and which means the state or territory ruled by a queen.
He is LCIS’ first spelling bee champion.
He will participate at Scripps May 26-31 in Washington, D.C., an all-expense-paid trip as a part of his prize package, along with $750 spending money, a laptop, a one-year subscription to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award ($100 U.S. savings bond) and a watch.
“It feels amazing,” said Roy of his win.
Kevin Williams, 11, a fifth-grade student at Yellow Elder Primary School, was second; Arjun Shetty, 13, a Queen’s College eighth grade student, was third.
Kevin and Arjun will also travel to Washington.
“It makes me feel happy, and I’m proud to represent The Bahamas,” said the son of Arthur and Nuala Seligman.
His journey to become the country’s spelling champ began in his class at LCIS, as all students from fourth through eighth grade had to participate in the spelling competition.
At the class level he won with the word “youthful”; and then correctly spelled “antecedence” at the schoolwide level, to advance to the BAISS competition, where he claimed the third spot to compete for the national title in a nail-biter.
Roy’s win was also the first academic glory for LCIS competing in the BAISS, which the school joined in 2018, but had competed predominantly in sports; 2019 was their first year competing in an academic competition. They were previously a part of the independent schools body, which is comprised of smaller independent schools like Windsor, Meridian and Akhepran Academy, according to Katina Seymour, LCIS’ PYP coordinator, responsible primarily for the curriculum and supervision of the elementary school and the early learning center.
To prepare for nationals Roy said he studied a lot, and logged approximately two to four hours every day with Seymour, who was also his coach. He said his mom helped as well.
The first champion to come from the Lyford Cay School said he has been receiving congratulations from all quarters since he returned to school last week Monday, and his proud parents treated him to his favorite Hershey’s chocolate bar.
Roy says he’s a good math student who likes literacy as well, which he said is why he likes the spelling bee.
To prepare for Scripps he says he wants to go back to the root words so he can figure out words he hadn’t seen before. On April 10 he anticipates receiving the study list for the first round so that he can start calling and learning them.
He’s also excited he will get to visit Washington for the first time.
His advice to peers who in the future will seek the national title is: “study hard, be prepared to sacrifice time and approach it with a positive attitude.”
Seymour said to get Roy to the point of becoming national spelling champion, they got together with his parents, and Roy’s mom began acted in an assistant coach capacity, after he completed the school competition, .
“I would give her instructions and she would make sure that they were followed through at home. We would get together every morning, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m., and in the afternoons after school, and we also did Saturday sessions.”
She said the process involved them first of all looking at the schools list that Scripps provides, as well as what they call a district list, and then the unseen list, which would come from Merriam-Webster (unabridged version). They not only looked at the basic lists, but explored words in a number of ways. Seymour said they opted for multiple resources.
“We bought some SAT [Scholastic Aptitude Test] vocabulary resources; we got some additional profession words from the legal profession, the medical field. It was just exposing him to words from all around the world literally. And the basis of our training was particularly the etymology of words. We didn’t just go and write memorized words. We went into talking about the origin of words, and understanding how words from different languages how they are comprised – part German or part Greek or part something else, and so that helped him understand patterns for words.”
Seymour said they spent a significant amount of time understanding definitions and using them in sentences and understanding the origin of words.
LCIS, since it began competing in the spelling bee in 2016, has seen progressive improvements. In the school’s first year, its representative finished 11th followed, by a ninth-place show in 2017, before skipping 2018 and claiming the trophy with Roy in 2019.
“We are ecstatic and so happy that he again demonstrates what our vision is at Lyford Cay International School, which is to inspire excellence,” said Seymour. “We not only inspire excellence in terms of academics, but in sports and other areas. What we do is provide our students with opportunities to demonstrate their excellence in multiple ways, and Roy for us has been the one to demonstrate it with spelling excellence.”
The Nassau Guardian sponsors the National Spelling Bee.