According to KCOB Christopher Hunt, “Not only was Gifton an awesome speller, but the way he handled himself, his demeanor and his mannerism touched a lot of hearts. After the initial disappointment of coming 4th, he was bombarded with requests for his autograph, posing for numerous pictures and individuals, I mean everyone, contestants, parents, Scripps Executives and even Sage Steele (ESPN) were just showering him with praises and wishing him well. I was so proud to see his humility with all of the attention he was getting. It was very refreshing.”
Christopher Hunt was our man at the Scripps National Spelling Bee last month in the Washington, DC area. He was there from day one to see what KC and Jamaica’s champion speller might need to help him get acclimated in the nation’s capital. Christopher provided frequent email updates as the competition progressed and kept us all informed of the behind the scenes happenings at the competition.
We learned for example, that Gifton was not entirely happy with the American Cuisine and enquired if it was possible to at some point get some “rice and peas.” We also learned that Gifton was quite a “hit” with the females throughout the competition.
Gifton’s request was taken care of the day after his request as Christopher arranged for a Jamaican dinner for him, his chaperone Ms. Lewis from his Community, and renowned coach Rev. Glen Archer.
Coach Archer expressed confidence on the eve of competition that Gifton would make the finals which he eventually did in fine style. By all accounts, Rev. Glen Archer is a world class coach who is worthy of much admiration and praise for his work with Jamaican spellers.
Also, we must commend The Gleaner Company and their representative Karin Cooper for their continued support and sponsorship of Jamaica’s entry in the Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee Competition, being held in the USA.
The only sad moment, according to Christopher, was that his parents--he might have been the only contestant to not have a parent present--were not there to share with him the momentous occasion. They were unable to obtain the necessary visa to accompany him to Washington, DC.
In round one, the 278 contestants had to spell 50 words of which 25 words would randomly be selected. At first, Gifton thought he got three words wrong, two were unfamiliar words. In fact, he got seven wrong (one of the lowest scores was by a Jamaican??), thus, he was a little apprehensive and disappointed. However, Rev. Archer explained the point system to him and that he had done just fine. Rev. Archer remained very confident that he would get both words (from a list of 2,000 words) correct in rounds two and three, to advance to the semi-finals. Gifton was the 49th name, out of 50 to be called for the semi-finals.
Gifton progressed to the final round where he finished 4th. There were nine spellers in the final round. The winner of the competition was Snighda Nandipathi a 14 year old 8th grader from San Diego, California.
There are supposedly plans for an international competition next year so it this probably is the last year that a student from overseas can compete in the US National Spelling Bee.