March 19, 2004 – St. Croix took top honors at the 2004 Territorial Spelling Bee held on St. Thomas Friday morning. Spelling dolorous correctly, Gemel Joseph, a student at the Ricardo Richards Elementary School, secured the Spelling Bee championship title at the Palms Court Harbor View hotel.
It took 15 rounds for Joseph to outdistance herself from the dozen students who participated in the nearly three-hour-long spelling competition.
All three top winners are from V.I. public schools.
Coming in next as first runner-up was Lindeon Davis of Addelita Cancryn Junior High School on St. Thomas. Lindeon also came in second in the 2003 bee, and this fortifies at least a hiatus in the reign of the Davis family: Sister Linesha was tops in 1997, brother Lindelle tops in 1999, and Lindeon himself tops in 2002 and second-place in 2003.
Placing third was second runner-up Sharde Richards of St. Croix's John H. Woodson Junior High School.
Gemel placed second to Trevor McCray in the February 21 St. Croix District bee, and Lindeon won tops for the St. Thomas-St. John District. Both bees took place at the same time and, curiously, both top winners won by spelling r-h-i-n-a-l.
Education Commissioner Dr. Noreen Michael presided over the awards ceremony immediately following the bee.
The winner goes to the 77th annual Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, to be held June 1-3 in Washington, D.C. There, one of 251 contestants will win a $12,000 cash prize, an engraved loving cup, an encyclopedia and other reference books, plus a $1,000 savings bond from Merriam-Webster.
Of this year's total 251 contestants, official Web site's statistics say there are 167 from public, 35 from private, 31 from home, and 18 from parochial schools. There's one 8-year-old, five 15-year-olds, and the rest are in between.
For all rounds except Round Two, the national is an oral competition. Round Two is a 25-word written test. The National Word List that contestants study from totals more than 750 words. For more on the complex rules, the hours that go into creation of the Word List each year, and to find out possible answers to the puzzle, "What is the origin of the term 'spelling bee'?" visit the link above.
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