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Jun 2, 2017

O-S-S-U-A-R-Y Spells Victory for Toledo’s Lionel Martin at Spelling Bee

A twelve-year-old boy from a school in the deep south is the national coca cola spelling bee champ. He bested eleven other primary school students to win the title. This is the twenty-third year that Bowen and Bowen is holding the competition and it has become a highlight of the year for many students. The competition started back in February with the zone level and some five hundred students participated in a bid to be one of the twelve on the stage for the finals. But after zone and district eliminations, only the top dozen of the best spellers – two from each district – were able to compete for the title. Andrea Polanco went to Castleton Entertainment Park in Burrell Boom to find out who from the twelve of Belize’s brightest spellers will emerge with the 2017 coveted title. Here’s her report on the finals of the annual spelling bee.

 

“The word was ossuary and it is spelled O-S-S-U-A-R-Y; ossuary.”

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

And that is how twelve-year-old Lionel Martin became Belize’s top primary school speller. Lionel spelled his way to the Coca-Cola National Spelling Bee championship in the elimination round. It is his second time around competing – and his win marks a back to back win for the Bethel SDA Primary School in Toledo.

 

Lionel Martin, 2017 Spelling Bee Champ

“I am feeling very happy because I know that my parents will be proud of me and that my school will feel good about me.”

 

Lionel Martin

Andrea Polanco

“So, tell us, that word that you won with – did you know that word before?”

 

Lionel Martin

“No, miss. I tried my best to get the spelling of the word.  The word was ossuary and it is spelled O-S-S-U-A-R-Y; ossuary.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“You spelled it a couple of times to get it right?”

 

Lionel Martin

“Yes, miss. I spelled it correct on my last try.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Did you know at that moment that you were going to be the champion today?”

 

Lionel Martin

“Yes, miss.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Is this something you always wanted to do?”

 

Lionel Martin

“I always wanted to join the Spelling Bee and win at nationals. Last year, I went and I couldn’t.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So this year you were determined to come and win?”

 

Lionel Martin

“Yes, ma’am. This year I said that since my school already won one time, I have to come and win again.”

 

But it took a lot of preparation for this little boy from Toledo spell his way with the title. This is the second year in a row that a student from the Bethel SDA Primary is taking championship – and leading this winning school is Coach Mirtha Westby. So, today the family and school share collectively in the success.

 

Mirtha Westby

Mirtha Westby, Coach, Bethel SDA Primary

“This is the second time I am having that same feeling because it is my two students back to back. I am very excited and I am very happy because our school is being recognized now that it is a good school. And that good feeling is more than – there is no word for us to explain such a feeling of happiness.”

 

Reporter

“Ma’am, as you said, you have back to back wins – so one might say you are probably the best coach right now, so are you expecting for a three-peat next year?”

 

Mirtha Westby

“No. I don’t know what to say about that.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What would you say it takes to prepare a national spelling bee champion?”

 

Mirtha Westby

“Well, it takes dedication, team work because it is not only my effort – the student, the parent and they stick with us for us to become victorious; but the most effort is placed on the student; that he decided he will take the challenge.”

 

Brenda Martin

Reporter

“Tell us about the feeling of having your son being the Spelling Bee champ?”

 

Brenda Martin, Mother of 2017 Spelling Bee Champ

“Mien, it is a feeling I can’t even explain. It is just – the only thing I can do is to thank God for everything.  He studied, you know, the teachers push him at school and sometimes I would rail up to him for him to study, but it wasn’t much that he did more than at school.”

 

To select the second and third place finishers – the reserve list was used. After an intense spell off, Gerson Makhwani of Mary Hill R.C in Corozal and Marianne Neufeld of Linda Vista Primary in Orange Walk took second and third, respectively. First runner up, Gerson, shares what helped him to land second place.

 

Gerson Makhwani

Gerson Makhwani, 2nd Place, 2017 Spelling Bee

“It is a great experience. I came here today with the knowledge that I will just do my best. I didn’t expect to win. So, I give thanks to God, thanks to my parents, my coach, everybody who helped me.”

 

Reporter

“How much did you have to do and prepare to do so well here today?”

 

Gerson Makhwani

“Usually we study four to five hours every day. That was intensive training with my teacher and my coach, Miss Karina. We trained every day. That was long training.”

 

Reporter

“Is this something you were passionate about?”

 

Gerson Makhwani

“Yes. That is very true because last year I tried and I came out in District, but this time I am very happy to have made it all the way to nationals. I really love reading – I read too much they tell me, so this is just a great experience to show other people how great reading can be. It takes you places you wouldn’t think you wouldn’t think you would go.”

 

And it is to inspire children like Gerson and Lionel that the Bowen and Bowen hosts this annual competition. It has become an event that primary schoolers look forward to. And in this, its twenty third year, Bowen and Bowen says that the annual national coca cola spelling bee is a tradition that will continue.

 

Liannie Castillo

Liannie Castillo, Coca-Cola Brand Coordinator, Bowen & Bowen

“It has grown to be a tradition for these kids; these kids look forward to it and it has been incorporated into the school calendars. So, it is something that we find very important and we strive to push it because of its importance to reading, learning and also to make it fun. It is something that we do every year so it is learning and also enjoyable for the kids. We think healthy competition is good.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “O-S-S-U-A-R-Y Spells Victory for Toledo’s Lionel Martin at Spelling Bee”

  1. Taratela says:

    Great news coming from the deep South. Many congratulations Mr. Martin, and Ms. Westby, you are truly making a change down there!

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