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St. Croix’s Michael Atwell Wins 46th Annual Spelling Bee At John Woodson Jr. High

FREDERIKSTED — Good Hope Country Day School seventh-grader Michael Atwell spelled the word “torotoro” correctly in round 15, making him the winner of the 46th Annual St. Croix District Intermediate Spelling Bee at the John H. Woodson Junior High School.

The St. Croix District Champion Michael Atwell was excited, but humbled by the victory.

“I practiced really really hard to win,” Atwell said, “I feel excited but I just want to win the next one. I’m going to start practicing for that one.”

The John H. Woodson Jr. High School band opened the Bee with the National Anthem and Virgin Islands March.

Woodson Principal Rodney Moorehead then shared welcome remarks.

“I know this morning on the stage we have the best spellers in the St. Croix District and I’m sure they have some butterflies in their stomach, so let’s give them a big round of applause,” Moorehead said. “I just want to add that I know it takes a lot of courage even just to volunteer to be in the Spelling Bee. So to be here on stage must be commended.”

Following Principal Moorehead, Acting Insular Superintendent Maria Encarnacion shared motivational remarks and reminded spellers to take advantage of the help they can use to triumph.

“Please avail yourself of every opportunity to hear the word again, definition, sentence, different pronouncer; whatever,” Encarnacion said. “Avail yourself of all the opportunities to be able to spell the words correctly.”

Chief Judge Maureen Moorehead did the reading of the rules, followed by the practice round. Fifteen spellers representing both public, private and parochial schools began the battle for the District title.

Words such as “muumuu,” “herpetology,” “aggregate,” “altruism” and “seersucker” are some of the words the spellers faced.


Elena Christian Jr. High School seventh-grader Jah’Quane Graham, who is also the 2018 Territorial Spelling Bee Winner, took 2nd place.

Graham misspelled the word “diaspora” in round 15. Church of God of Holiness seventh-grader Jaden Gonzalez took 3rd place by spelling the word “kasha” incorrectly in round 14.

Fourth runner-up Kayln Blackwood, fifth-grade student the Ricardo Richards Elementary School is the only elementary student in the top six finalists.

Participants received a participation certificate, medal, student dictionary, books from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Scholastic Inc., and Achieve 3000 headphones.

The top six finalists all received a trophy.

United Way of the Virgin Islands will also present the champion with a laptop and the remaining five finalists with an Amazon Kindle Fire at the Territorial Spelling Bee.

The event took place on February 12.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region since 1989. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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