Jordan Lewis probably couldn’t have asked for a better birthday gift than winning the 54th Catholic schools spelling champ, in his second attempt.
Jordan, 10 at the time of the competition, a fifth-grade student at St. Thomas More, correctly spelt the word “chanteuse” to lead an all-boys sweep of the top three spots in the 14-student hybrid competition, one day ahead of his 11th birthday.
Xavier’s Lower School’s Nathan Bethel, eight, and Julius Williams, nine, were second and third respectively in the spelling contest that took place at Seton Hall, Xavier’s Lower School on February 4, in front of a limited audience.
“I feel good because I had to study hard, and I won this year,” Jordan told The Nassau Guardian.
Williams laid claim to third after going head to head with St. Thomas More’s Rayna Bain in a spell-off.
Rayna misspelled “maharaja”; Julius then correctly spelt the word “liana” to take third place.
Jordan and Nathan will move on to represent Catholic schools at the national spelling bee later this year.
The competition had a new look in a COVID-19 environment, with Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy competitors streamed in, and New Providence in-person competitors and spectators distanced by six feet, and having to decide whether they wanted to spell words with their mask on or off. Competitors were also not allowed to touch the microphone, or shake hands. Hand sanitization and temperature checks were also a part of the experience.
With safety uppermost in the minds of organizers, the competition was limited to officials, one parent per speller, and one administrator per school.
Crystal Green-Woods, archdiocesan spelling bee coordinator, said she was pleased with the outcome of their first hybrid spelling contest, which took place during Catholic Schools Week, January 31 – February 6, in the middle of a pandemic.
“This year’s spelling bee created a lot of buzz and excitement. I believe there is a longing for opportunities for healthy competitions such as spelling bees. As a result, our school communities were more excited than ever before. Although stressful at times, we were very pleased with the outcome.”
Green-Woods previously told The Nassau Guardian that as the Catholic Board of Education is committed to providing a high quality of education through the pandemic, they decided to go ahead with this year’s spelling contest, to give students the most authentic and enriching educational experience possible in spite of everything that is going on in the world at this time.
“Competitions such as spelling bees are a type of curriculum support that could be conducted in a safe and socially distanced way, therefore, we saw no real reason why we should not host this year’s bee,” said Green-Woods.
She told The Nassau Guardian that the committee had been asked why they would bother with a spelling competition considering the pandemic, and said they felt that students’ lives in general had been disrupted in so many ways, that hosting the spelling contest gave them more reason to persevere and host the contest under unique circumstances.
The Catholic Schools Spelling Bee is the oldest formal spelling bee in The Bahamas and is aimed at encouraging academic excellence and a healthy competitive spirit amongst Catholic primary school students.