Sun | Sep 27, 2020

Little Toriann stings like a Bee!

Published:Thursday | February 6, 2020 | 12:21 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Toriann Beckford, The Gleaner’s Children’s Own Spelling Bee champion for 2020, poses with coach Errol Campbell shortly after acing the championship word U-V-A-R-O-V-I-T-E yesterday.
Toriann Beckford, The Gleaner’s Children’s Own Spelling Bee champion for 2020, poses with coach Errol Campbell shortly after acing the championship word U-V-A-R-O-V-I-T-E yesterday.

When nine-year-old Toriann Beckford topped a field of spellers from across 14 parishes yesterday, her elated grandmother revealed that the family has more members waiting in the wings to follow in those tiny footsteps.

Toriann, who attends the McAuley Primary School in Spanish Town, St Catherine, was yesterday crowned champion of The Gleaner’s Children’s Own National Spelling Bee, outlasting 13-year-old St George’s College student, Israel Burnett.

The diminutive girl from March Pen Road made up for her deficit in stature to runner-up Israel Burnett by spelling correctly the championship word, U-V-A-R-O-V-I-T-E, oozing confidence in the final showdown.

The spunky contestant said that she was never nervous.

“Size is not nothing. I don’t look at height. My grandmother always tell me that no matter how big they are, they can be brought down to size,” she told The Gleaner moments after winning.

The future neurologist praised her coach, Errol Campbell, for his support and strategies imparted on what she dubbed a journey of” sacrifice”.

Grandmother Winsome Hines, who assumed guardianship of the Toriann since she was three months old, is proud that McAuley Primary’s shining star is now the toast of the Old Capital.

Hines said that just last week Toriann lamented that the workload was becoming unbearable but was urged to press on because she had come too far.

She believes that her other granddaughter, Amanda Beckford, as well as a niece, will follow in the tradition of spelling glory. The 2017 Spelling Bee champion Deneiro Hines is Beckford’s cousin.

“Dem affi go mek new words when di family done with it,” Hines said.

Burnett was slightly disappointed, as it was his fifth year entering the Spelling Bee. However, he acknowledged that the competition had opened many doors for him.

Errol Campbell, who coached both Toriann and Israel, revelled in the joy of his fourth year producing the national spelling bee champion.

“The training was meticulous and intense. I am humbled but elated. It was great coaching both of them. Funny enough, Israel also went to McAuley Primary, so literally this is first and second place,” he said.