Following nine rounds of exciting competition, Z’Qi Chapman (No. 5), an 8th grader at Church of God Holiness Academy on St. Croix, emerged as the 2017 Territorial Spelling Bee Champion on Thursday, March 30. He will represent the Virgin Islands at the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee, May 28-June 4, in Washington, D.C.
The territory’s top 12 spellers — six from each island district — competed in the 44th annual competition held at the John H. Woodson Jr. High School. The students represented Wesleyan Academy, Good Hope Country Day School, St. Patrick’s Catholic School, All Saints Cathedral School, Church of God Holiness Academy, St. John Gifft Hill School, Gladys Abraham Elementary School, Lockhart Elementary School, Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School, Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School, John H. Woodson Jr. High School and Eulalie Rivera Elementary School.
The soft-spoken Z’Qi credits his success to the support of his family and coach, Stephen Marcel. Of his big win, Z’Qi said, “I feel excited and nervous at the same time.” He further pointed out that his winning strategy is simple, “Studying, studying and more studying.” Z’Qi has only participated in spelling bees over the last three years and looks forward to representing the Virgin Islands at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Z’Qi was left standing at the end of Round 8, having spelled the word “hydrate” correctly. He then spelled his final word, “prodition” correctly in Round 9 to claim the 2017 championship.
Coach Marcel expressed his pride in Z’Qi’s successful run. “I knew we had a great chance because he is a very brilliant student,” he said. “We studied very hard. We studied the different languages, the roots of words, entomology, prefixes and suffixes. We expect him to go very far, as well, in Washington, D.C.”
As part of his prize package, Z’Qi received a trophy, an electronic tablet and a $200 Amazon gift card. Additionally, he received the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, a free one-year subscription to Britannica Online Premium, and a one-year subscription to Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online.
Each Territorial Spelling Bee participant also received a certificate and a gift bag containing a notebook, pen, flask, flashlight, screwdriver set, and a flash drive.
Student – School — Coach
Aiden Glasford of Wesleyan Academy (Coach Agnes Bellot)
Michael Atwell of Good Hope Country Day School (Coach Denise Blanchette)
Daniel Lugo of St. Patrick’s Catholic School (Coach Sharosne Elcock)
Krishiv Amarnani of All Saints Cathedral (Coach Suzy Gomez-Smith)
Z’Qi Chapman of Church of God Holiness Academy (Coach Stephen Marcel)
Mera Foster of Gifft Hill School (Coach Mary Burks)
Joshua Morgan of Gladys Abraham Elementary [the current St. Thomas-St. John District Spelling Bee winner] (Coach: Loretta Silcott)
Waniya Baig of Lockhart Elementary (Coach Daniela Roumou)
Carmindy Pickering of Pearl B. Larsen (Coach Veronica Sargeant)
V’Andre Rochester of BCB Middle School (Coach Tamik Pilgrim)
Makayla Todman of John H. Woodson Jr. H.S. [the current St. Croix District Spelling Bee winner and two-time Territorial Spelling Bee champion in 2015 and 2016, was eliminated from the competition on the word “pandowdy.”] (Coach Chantelle Quinones) John H. Woodson Jr. H.S.
Ivante Mark of Eulalie Rivera Elementary School (Coach Ellen Cyrille-Charles)
District Spelling Bee coordinators Dr. Carla A. Bastian, language arts coordinator in the St. Croix District, and Jessica John-Baptiste, language arts coordinator in the St. Thomas-St. John District, assisted in the success of the program. Denise Gomes, program manager of the State Office of Curriculum and Instruction, coordinated the 44th Annual Territorial Spelling Bee.
Victor Somme III, director of the Alternative Education Program on St. Croix, served as Master of Ceremonies; Maureen Moorehead was chief judge, presiding over judges: Avon Benjamin and Cheryl Jeremiah-Ambrose; Rev. Wesley Williams and Richard Muhammad were pronouncers.
As a primary sponsor of the Territorial Spelling Bee, the Virgin Islands Daily News will cover all travel and hotel expenses for Z’Qi, his family members and his coach to attend the National Spelling Bee.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and the Virgin Islands Department of Education are also sponsors of the Territorial Spelling Bee.