Jody-Anne Maxwell Casts A S-P-E-L-L

Prior to May 28, 1998, most Jamaicans – indeed, most people in the world – had never even heard the word CHIAROSCURIST before. However, it soon became etched in the minds of many after Jody-Anne Maxwell, then a 12-year-old student at Ardenne High School, spelled it correctly to win the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. In the process, she became – and remains – the only non-American to claim the trophy in the competition’s history.

What most Jamaicans probably don’t know is that 1998 was only the second time Jamaica was entering the spelldown. The year before, our entrant Jason Edwards James placed eighth. Since Maxwell’s exploits, however, Jamaica has had a strong presence at the annual competition, even coming close to the gold on a few occasions. In 2003, Trudy Ann McLeary of Ardenne placed third, striking out on the word APLUSTRE and in 2012, Kingston College’s Gifton Wright tied for fourth after stumbling on the word ERICETICOLOUS. How’s that for a tongue twister?

Visit diGJamaica’s Spelling Bee page for more history and facts.