By William Ysaguirre, Freelance Reporter
Ten year old Shanalee Gayap, a Std IV student at Solid Rock Academy in the Stann Creek District, became one of the youngest winners of the annual Coca Cola Spelling Bee when she edged out 11 older contestants from across the country on Friday, June 6.
All 12 participants survived the first two rounds of the Ministry of Education co-sponsored event held at the Countryside Park in Spanish Lookout, Cayo District, but only Shanalee correctly spelled both her words “beau” and “coucal” from the reserved list in the third elimination round. This won her the first prize of a Dell laptop computer from Bowen & Bowen Ltd, complete with a computer printer, a laptop bag, external speakers and a host of other accessories. She also won a full four-year scholarship from the Ministry of Education to the secondary school of her choice, and a two-year scholarship from The Belize Bank to any tertiary level institution, along with a book grant. She also won a computer and printer for her teacher and school principal, Elcedia Awe, and for her school.
Isabelle Swasey, a 12-year-old Std VI student of Louisiana Government School spelled both her words” “echt” and “cannelloni” in the fifth elimination round to capture second place. Geon Codd, a 12 year-old Std VI student of St. Andrew’s Anglican School in San Ignacio, Cayo placed third with the word “serrate”. He and Isabelle won Dell laptops and other accessories from Digicell 4G as their prizes, along with gift certificates for $1,500, toward their future educational expenses.
Four other children correctly spelled one of their two words and had advanced to the fourth round along with Isabelle and Geon. Raymond Silva of St. Joseph’s RC School in Belize City correctly spelled “brachicardia” to score 10 pts. Mishtony Castillo of Christilline Gill Seventh Day Adventist School, Corozal, made it through by spelling “quagga” correctly for 10pts, while Isabelle had spelled pilaf correctly. Marvellia Sho of Forest Home Methodist School in the Toledo District spelled “Bolognese” for 10pts, while Aselmo Choc of Aguacate R.C. School, Toledo also scored 10pts.
The other contestants who made it to the third round included Elias Zetina of New Horizon Seven Day Adventist, Belize District, Sherman Matute of St. Jude R.C. of Orange Walk, Arbaz Khan of Corozal Methodist School, Deisy Aguirre of Carmelita Government School, Orange Walk, and Benjamin Chun of Independence Primary School, Stann Creek. All nine contestants not in the top three received Samsung netbooks from Belize Telemedia Digicell.
Louisiana Government School also won the contest to decide a banner for the Spelling Bee based on this year’s slogan “Go for the Goal!” They scored 41 pts to win five cases of assorted Bowen & Bowen soft drinks. St Andrew’s Anglican scored 36 pts to win second prize, while four other schools tied for third place each with 27 pts: Corozal Methodist, Solid Rock Academy, Forest Home Methodist and Christilline Gill SDA.