Of the 22 students vying for the 23rd Bahamas National Spelling Bee crown – five have competed at the country’s top level before and know what it will take to be the ultimate winner, especially Roy Seligman, a Lyford Cay School student who is not only a two-time competitor at the national level, but is returning to the stage as the defending champion, having captured the title in 2019.
Roy, one of three Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) representatives, along with Kevano Seymour (South Andros High, representing South Andros and Mangrove Cay), Shamiah Eugene (Old Bight Primary School representing Cat Island and Rum Cay and San Salvador), Azaria Louis (Maurice Moore Primary representing East Grand Bahama and Grand Cay) and Kevin Williams (Yellow Elder Primary representing West New Providence Primary) are all return competitors to the national level.
The Spelling Bee final competition will be held in the Crown Ballroom at the Atlantis on Sunday, March 8.
Also going after the national title will be Windsor Preparatory School’s Taeghan Carey and Dmitri Deveaux (Associate Schools); St. Anne’s School’s Maria Del Carmen Sanchez and St. Augustine’s College’s Daunte Butler along with Roy (BAISS); Sts. Francis & Joseph School’s Cianna Johnson and Jordyn Lloyd (Catholic Schools); North Eleuthera High School’s Michaella Lockhart (Eleuthera); Thelma Gibson Primary School’s Cassidy Powell and Centreville Primary’s Kylie Moss (East New Providence); Exuma Christian Academy’s Gabriel Ahmir P. Ajul (Exuma); Mangrove Bush Primary School’s Sariah Wells (Long Island); Salina Point Primary School’s Anna Kerr (M.I.C.A.L.); Clara Evans Primary School’s Kaidyn Campbell (North Central Andros); D.W. Davis School’s Nyema Kemp (North New Providence Secondary); Anatol Rodgers High School’s Fredesha Ramsey (South New Providence Primary); Hugh Campbell Primary School’s Jasmaine Rolle (West Grand Bahama and Bimini); and Yellow Elder Primary School’s Kevin Williams and Stephen Dillet Primary School’s Wilson Pierre (West New Providence Primary).
Up to press time the prizes this year’s winner will receive had not been finalized, but in previous years, the winner received an all-expense paid trip to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C., $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.
The Bahamian champion will advance to represent The Bahamas at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May. Bee Week takes place May 24-29 at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.
Roy represented The Bahamas at Scripps in 2019. Kevin, by virtue of his second-place finish last year, accompanied Roy to Washington.
On the Scripps site, they say it takes hard work and dedication to earn the title of best speller in the world. After the winner is declared at the national level, in preparation for the Scripps’ competition, Scripps’ advice to spellers is to tackle the Words of The Champions study guide, which is new this year and contains a total of 4,000 words, including the 450-word School Spelling Bee Study List.
Words of The Champions is divided into One Bee, Two Bee and Three Bee difficulty levels.
Any word on the list may be asked in competition. Spelling bees often end with words a student may not have studied.
Scripps has sponsored the Scripps National Spelling Bee for eight decades. Since 1978, the Bee has included competitors from outside the United States. This year, Bahamian representatives will be among spellers from five non-U.S. countries that will participate – Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and Korea.