Spanish Wells teenager is a Spelling Bee Champion!


Spanish Wells may be a small island in The Bahamas with a few thousand people, but that doesn’t stop them from taking advantage of the educational opportunities afforded to them like anyone else in the world.

At the annual National Spelling Bee in The Bahamas, scores of students from around The Bahamas gathered in New Providence to demonstrate their spelling skills.

Wes Underwood, 13, an eighth-grade student at Samuel Guy Pinder All Age School in Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, was yesterday named the winner of the 26th Annual Bahamas National Spelling Bee (BNSB) Final Competition.

“I feel shocked,” said Wes after claiming the crown. “I really didn’t think I’d win. I studied a lot. I just didn’t want to let myself down. I didn’t put my expectations too high.”

Both Wes and Maria Sanchez of St Andrew’s International School were originally eliminated in round 10, but were both invited to compete in the following round after Ty Williams, of Genesis Academy, misspelled his word during that round.

After rejoining the competition, Wes — whose winning word was “syntrophism”, which means, “a biological relationship in which microorganisms of two different species or strains are mutually dependent on one another for nutritional requirements”—  sat through a nerve-racking spell-off between Maria and Ty, the respective second and third-place winners. 

Wes, who said he is excited to go to the United States to participate in this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee, explained how he prepared for yesterday’s competition.

“Plenty words,” he said. “We (he and his coach) went over words like every day – plenty, plenty studying.”

His coach, Bevil Clarke, noted that it had been a “journey” to yesterday’s competition.

“From day one, we had a strategy,” Clarke said.

“It was quite hectic balancing work and training. Every day, we tried to push in at least 50 words; it was quite a journey. I’m grateful to God for this moment.”


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