With the correct spelling of the word “sprain,” Gifft Hill’s Dax Chouiniere beat out 18 others from the district to take the top spot in this year’s St. Thomas-St. John Spelling Primary Bee.
The field of contestants this year was wide, bringing in students from several public elementary schools, along with private and parochial schools. Joining Chouiniere in the top three was first runner up So’akim Arnold from E. Benjamin Oliver Elementary and second runner up Chela Reyes’ Moria from Jane E. Tuitt Elementary.
Throughout the morning, the competition was tight, with most spellers hanging on in the first few rounds. By the sixth, however, the last four remaining students – including the top three and Antilles School’s Maya Cohen – all spelled their words incorrectly, allowing each of them to come back to the microphone in the seventh round.
Cohen, who came in fourth for the competition, was eliminated in the seventh round, and by the eighth, only two spellers – Chouiniere and Arnold – stood standing.
“I knew he could do it,” Chouiniere’s coach Beth Knight said after the competition. “He’s practiced so hard and really put all his effort into it.”
Chouiniere said that the last few weeks of practicing from the competition spelling list were done at home, but whatever he got wrong were used as spelling words in school.
“I’m amazed right now,” he said after the competition. “I’m so excited and amazed.”
Asked what Chouiniere’s strategy will be for the upcoming territorial bee, Knight added that the team plans to stick with what works.
“We’re going to be doing the same thing, because we were right on target,” she said.