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Jun 3, 2016

Jaheel Warrior is Coca-Cola Spelling Bee 2016 Champion

The finals of the National Coca-Cola Spelling Bee took place today in Burell Boom, Belize District. Twelve finalists representing all districts competed to become the top speller in the nation. It was a nerve wrecking experience which would be won only for the second time by the Toledo District and the first time for a student from an Adventist School. The word chosen by Jaheel Warrior is French; and while not one used by him, he pulled it off. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

For many of us, the word douane isn’t a term that exists in our everyday language.  In fact, we may only come across or use that expression while away in France.  That’s where the French word for a custom house, or customs, originated.  While it is certainly not written the way it is pronounced, this monosyllabic name was the selection chosen by Jaheel Warrior.  The accuracy of his spelling in the final round of competition earned him first place in the National Coca-Cola Spelling Bee 2016.


Jaheel Warrior, 1st Place, Bethel SDA School

Jaheel Warrior

“I feel very excited.  My hard work paid off very, very well.”


Despite a beginner’s proficiency in the English language, Jaheel has had to learn the spelling, as well as the definition and etymology of each word on an assigned list.  Coached by former teacher Ray Jacobs, preparation for the annual challenge was no walk in the park.


Ray Jacobs

Ray Jacobs, Vice Principal, Bethel SDA School

“I taught him in Infant Two and from the time I taught him in Infant Two I knew that he was good.  So when the challenge came up for Spelling Bee he said, “listen, I will try it” and I said, “let’s go for it” and we brought out a team, if you see it on our banner, we say human effort plus God’s grace equals success.  And he says we are going with it and so I thank God today and it’s also history, it’s the first time a Seven Day Adventist school has won the championship.”


In its twentieth year, the National Coca-Cola Spelling Bee is a showcase of the country’s top spellers.  Each year, primary school students qualify themselves to participate in the challenge.


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

Liannie Castillo

“First what we did was a zone elimination, so we traveled countrywide and we had the assistance of our education officers, our education team, as well as our B&B team.  From there we narrowed it down to the district winners, first and second place, so we had twelve students here today.  In terms of logistics, we had to assist our student from, our participant from Toledo.  So because of the time of the competition which was at 9:30, we brought him in yesterday, we brought two of them in yesterday to be rested and ready to start the competition today because it’s such a long distance from Toledo to Burrell Boom.”


That R and R indeed proved valuable for Jaheel.


Isani Cayetano

“What was that preparation like, in terms of coming into this competition?  A lot of words, some you’re familiar with, some you’re seeing for the first time.  What was it like getting yourself prepared for today?”


Jaheel Warrior

“I studied the origin and now it paid off.”


Shaheed Perez, a student at Bernice Yorke Institute of Learning, blundered his final word and that mistake landed him at second place.  Nonetheless, his placement in the top three is a proud moment for his parents.


Shaheed Perez, 2nd Place, Bernice Yorke Institute

Shaheed Perez

“I feel like all of the words on the list I did not know, so that word was really hard for me.  But I think I could have spelled it, but not now.”


Isani Cayetano

“Now as a parent, as a proud mother, what’s the feeling of seeing your son on the national stage and performing this well in terms of spelling the words that were assigned to him?”


Mother of Shaheed Perez

“I was very, very nervous for him.  Every time a child gets up there it’s a time when you feel like you are on stage as well, but it’s more pride now than anything else.  It’s relief.  I’m extremely grateful and thankful for everyone that has assisted.”


The overall experience, to describe it in one word, is intense.  Preparing and learning how to spell those words and then appearing on a national stage where the entire country is listening can be overwhelming.


Jody Xia, 3rd Place, La Inmaculada Primary School

Jody Xia

“Everyday at school we would stay up to around five o’clock practicing and that has helped a lot and we practiced various strategies and ways to guess what words it would be.  We also practiced how to spell the words according to their origins.  And going up there it was very stressful and nerve-wracking.  I was actually trembling if anyone had noticed, but in the end it turned out pretty well, even though I didn’t get first or second.  Third place is also very good.”


The national spelling competition was held at Castleton Park in Burrell Boom and was attended by primary schools from each of the districts. Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.


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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