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May 29, 2003

Hearing impaired hold spelling bee

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We recently reported on the crowning of this year’s national spelling champion…but it turns out we may have been a bit premature. Patrick Jones has more.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

It may not be as well known as the Coca-Cola Spelling Bee, but competition in the finger version of the event is no less keen.

Marcelina Reyes, Organizer, Finger Spelling Bee

“The finger spelling bee is specifically for children who are hearing impaired or deaf. They have to sign or spell with their fingers, that is why it is called the finger spelling bee.”

Nine finger spellers from all over the country today went head to head in the third annual spelling bee. After four rounds of competition, twelve-year-old Brittney Jex emerged as top speller, while Demetro Sho of the Cayo Deaf Institute and Svetlana Romero of the Bernice York Institute had to compete in a run off to determine who the runner up would be.

Brittney Jex, Winner, Finger Spelling Bee

“My mom helped me and she will be going away to buy me new shoes and clothes and stuff. I’m excited.”

According to her teacher Erlett Thomas, Brittney’s hard work in the classroom made it a lot easier to prepare for the competition.

Erlett Thomas, Teacher

“What I did instead of using school time, I would just give her the proper sign for the word and then she take it home. I made a video for her and then her mother helped her at home.”

Patrick Jones

“What does it take to prepare for a competition like that?”

Erlett Thomas

“It takes a lot of memorization and studying because as you might know, deaf children don’t learn through phonics. So its constant practicing and practicing and practicing and getting them to understand the word, the meaning of the word and then that helps them.”

The finger spelling bee was revived three years ago and is organized by the Special Education Unit with sponsorship from Crystal Water. Patrick Jones, for News 5.

In the Junior Finger Spelling Bee Christian Mora of Stella Maris won first place, second prize went to Yossilin Manzanero of the Cayo Deaf Institute, while her classmate Denis Chan walked away with third place.

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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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