The Fortis Pavilion salutes our very "gifted," Gifton Samuel Wright, for finishing 4th in the recently concluded 85th annual Scripps Howard Spelling Bee Competition. He has not only brought honour and glory to himself, but to his family, community (Spanish Town), school (Kingston College), and by extension, Jamaica.
The competition began with 278 contestants from every U.S. state, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe, the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
By Thursday night, the field whittled down to nine (9) finalists competing for a shot at spelling bee immortality. The finalists were: Gifton Wright of Spanish Town, Jamaica; Snigdha Nandipati of San Diego, California; Frank Cahill of Parker, Colo.; Stuti Mishra of West Melbourne, Fla.; Jordan Hoffman of Lee's Summit, Mo.; Emma Ciereszynski of Dover, N.H.; Arvind Mahankali of Bayside Hills, N.Y.; Nicholas Rushlow of Pickerington, Ohio; and Lena Greenberg of Philadelphia, Pa.
In the final analysis, Gifton incorrectly spelt the word "ericeticolous" (which means "to improve memory with scientifically designed brain exercise or requiring a heath of heath-like habitat") to tie for 4th place. 14 year old, Snigdha Nandipati went on to cop the coveted title after spelling the word "guetapens," (which means "ambush" or "trap"). She is the fifth Indian-American (in a row) to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
We watched with bated breath and sweaty palms as "The Gifted One" confidently spelt his way to the final round, and aptly received a standing ovation from those in attendance, after gracefully bowing out of the competition.
The Fortis Pavilion is indeed happy to have been a part of Gifton's journey. I recall the group's donation of a laptop to him, which aided in bolstering his preparation for the national and international competitions. I was privileged to have met this well-mannered and intelligent young man in 2010, during my stint as the Mentor for his class (7 Francis). Sprint sensation, Raje Fearon, was also a student in that form. Both Gifton and Raje are in the same second form this year, which I still mentor. Last year when I returned to 7 Francis to mentor the boys, I had the pleasure of meeting another awesome talent, Jevaughn Matterson. Both Raje and Jevaughn will feature prominently in KC's quest to reclaim the Boys' Champs Title in 2013, and will represent the nucleus of the team in the coming years. I chose 7 Francis because that was the form to which I was assigned when I began my tenure at the foremost institution of learning in the Western Hemisphere.
Gifton's success has not been achieved by chance, but rather, through hardwork, commitment, determination, and an insatiable desire to be the best - hallmarks of the Fortis spirit. The foundation was effectively laid during his early days at McAuley Primary. Over the years, countless hours have been spent preparing for the national competitions, culminating in glory at the international level! As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow aptly puts it: "The heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night."
Gifton's success in the National Spelling Bee Competition represented the first time that a Kingston College student had won this title. His name and achievement will be etched in the annals of KC history. I have articulated it in the past, and I will continue to articulate it: "Kingston College is The Standard by which all other institutions are measured."
We salute coach, the legendary Glen Archer, who is responsible for honing the skills of young Gifton, and a plethora of youngsters who preceded him. We recall the success of Jody-Anne Maxwell in 1998 when she became the first Jamaican (and only one to date) to have won this title. Undoubtedly, Rev. Archer represents the blueprint for Spelling Bee success.
Gifton Wright was born to Gifton and Lorna Wright at the Spanish Town Hospital on March 8, 1998. He attended the spelling powerhouse, located on Windsor Road, close to his Ellerslie Pen home.
Wayne O. Robertson is the president of the Fortis Pavilion.