Melvin Coleman wins 2012 Liberia National Spelling Bee Championship

By Peterking Quaye – Liberia’s education system over the years has come under serious criticism by many local and international civil society groups as well as individuals. Reading and spelling has been a key ingredient that needs to be improved. A platform to consolidate this process of changing as well as improve the education system is a the national spelling Bee championship.

Melvin O. B. Coleman and Education Minister Etmonia David Tarpeh

Melvin O. B. Coleman and Education Minister Etmonia David Tarpeh

At this year 5th edition, student Melvin O. B. Coleman of the Child Development Academy (CDA) ran over 45 contestants to lift the title for 2011 National Spelling Bee Champion, Lofa County, while Student Kebbeh Cooper of SOS maintained the second place which Montserrado County won in 2011. Contestants were drawn from the fifteen counties, with three students representing each count. The grand finals of the National Spelling Bee Championship 2012 came off on Saturday, March 31, 2012, at the Monrovia City Hall in Monrovia.

The 5th Annual Championship of the Liberia National Spelling Bee, with Montserrado County lifting first and second places.  Margibi County won the third place after Student Darkamou Yakpawolo of the Division #10 Junior High in Marshall fell to second place winner Kebbeh Cooper of Montserrado County during the last round. The Ministry of Education Liberia National Spelling Bee Championship is a part of government’s efforts to promote a culture of reading.

Trophies were presented to the winners, with cash prizes of US$1,500, US$1,000 and US$500 to first, second and third place winners respectively. All participants of the spelling bee received medals.

Earlier in week, the elimination rounds were held at the Baptist Youth Camp on the RIA Highway, where students who emerged victorious went on to the grand finals.

The 2012 National Spelling Bee official judges: Dr. Caroline Anderson, Dr. Julia Richards, Ms. Marlene Smith, among others; Pronouncers: Sister Mary Laurene Browne and others; and definers: Tupee Taylor, Michael Weah, Keturah Siebu and Felecia Doe-Sumah. The National Spelling Bee Committee is chaired by Roseline Sherman.

Education Minister Etmonia David Tarpeh said she was elated by over the process, and lauded organizers and sponsors for the competition. Minister Tarpeh said also praised the students for their performances that led to their selection as finalists. She however informed them to take the process serious in order to sharpen their skills in their learning process. Minister Tarpeh then used the occasion to pledge government’s supports to the annual spelling bee competition.

Montserrado County Education Officer (CEO), Gomai Minnie, speaking in an interview with journalist after the event, praised the students for placing the county on top of such an educational competition. CEO Minnie held the conviction that Montserrado will maintain the title, but called for logistical supports to process.

The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the Liberia Teacher Training Program (LTTP) and other partners and sponsors, Lonestar Cell MTN is the lead sponsor of the Spelling Bee Competition ,other sponsors include: Global Bank Liberia, Pearson Publishing Company, International Bank Liberia, Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) and Mutual Benefit Assurance, among others.