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Spelling Bee champ

By VERDEL BISHOP Monday, November 26 2007

click on pic to zoom in
Shania Gajadhar poses with her Spelling Bee trophy....
Shania Gajadhar poses with her Spelling Bee trophy....

WHEN LITTLE Shania Gajadhar mounted the stage at Crowne Plaza recently in the Courts National Spelling Bee Championship finals, she was cool, calm and collected. With hands held firmly behind her back, she had a purpose — to emerge the winner.

Spelling comes naturally for Shania.. After beating out other competitors in the seven to nine category, Shania won a personal laptop computer, a second computer for her school and cash prizes, making her school and her parents proud. However, hearing her name in winner’s row did not come as a surprise to this eight-year-old.

Her mother Thecla Bramble-Gajadhar told Newsday: “She was always positive. When she knew what was at stake in the championship, it was never ‘If I win’ but it was always ‘When I win.’ We were not surprised and Shania was not surprised. We were thankful and proud more than anything else,” she said.

Gajadhar said hard work, prayers and determination helped Shania to shine in the competition.

“Her teacher informed us that they had put forward her name to take part in the Spelling Bee. They sent her home with a list of 500 words to learn and we only had about three days to prepare. The words were really challenging,” Gajadhar recalled. Shania, a pupil of the Arouca Government Primary School showed signs of being gifted from an early age.

Her mother said: “It started as early as pre-school. Her teachers would always give us great reviews of Shania’s performance. They were always amazed at her abilities. They knew she was special so they told us to make sure and put aside money for her education. Parent involvement in a child’s education is a major factor in success and there are many simple but productive techniques that can influence a child’s performance.”

Shania’s parents mastered those techniques early in her upbringing and regularly put them into practice.

Gajadhar revealed: “Every day leading up to the championship finals, Shania’s father would come home and sit with her and go through the list of 500 words. My husband works shift so when he is at work, I would take over.

“We never had to do any rigorous drilling with the list of words, since Shania always had a natural ability to spell and read from very young. There were words that were tricky, so we had to focus on those words,” she said.

Shania’s parents also credit their deep faith — they are devout Seventh Day Adventists — for her success.

“Shania attends Junior Church where she takes part in most of the programmes. She recites poems, scripture verses and many other things that add to her holistic well being. She is a marvellous swimmer and singer as well. We try to keep her well rounded so it would add as an equalizer in her academics,” said Gajadhar.

Shania told Newday she got her inspiration from the movie Akeelah and the Bee. The plot centres around an 11-year-old girl who is talented at spelling, and never makes errors on her tests. Her teacher recommends that she sign up for the Crenshaw Schoolwide Spelling Bee which she wins easily.

“ I looked at that movie the day before the championships and I admired how Akeelah spelled the difficult words,” said Shania.

“I love reading and spelling. I enjoy reading my favourite scripture verse in the Bible, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, because that inspires me a lot also,” said Shania.

Shania’s father, John Gajadhar, is confident his daughter has a bright future ahead of her because of the strong family support. He revealed that he is inspired by his own father.

“I believe parents should try to be there to support their children and to be their role models. I grew up with a single parent. My father didn’t have much education but he made sure he was there for us. Although he couldn’t read, he made sure we had our education,” he said.

Shania is hoping the competition will be held again next year so that she can compete in a higher age category.

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