The spelling bee Ghana has chosen Janice Afiba Nketsiah, the 2nd Runner Up of the 2023 National spelling bee in Ghana to join the winner and the 1st runner up to represent Ghana and Africa at the prestigious 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee competition in USA.
Janice Afiba Nketsiah, 12, who attends Saint Francis of Assisi in Takoradi in the Western Region, competed in the National Spelling Bee for the first time and finished as the 2nd runner-up.
Who Is Janice Afiba Nketsiah
To every rule there is an exception as the saying goes and that’s exactly what Janice Afiba Nketsiah stands for. Janice is an adorable and smart 12 year old basic seven student of St. Francis of Assisi Schools based in Anaji, a suburb of Takoradi in the western region of Ghana in West Africa. Janice’s remarkable story in the spelling bee began in February 2022 when her father informed her one evening that she had been enrolled in the 2023 spelling bee in Ghana.
According to the father he discovered at a very young age that Janice had some capabilities as far as words were concerned and had been making frantic effort to get Janice into a competition of that sort but had been unsuccessful and had practically given on the idea until one fateful day that he heard an interview on an Accra based radio station about the bee. Mr. Nketsiah grabbed the opportunity immediately and enrolled Janice without even asking her opinion about it.
As obedient as she is she accepted the challenge and preparation begun in March 2022.
History has shown that winners in spelling bee competition across the world, including the scripps are usually returning spellers who have participated in the competition a number of times in the past. It is therefore believed that first timers are only there to warm themselves up for the future. But Janice did not believe this assertion.
Despite being a first timer in the competition, Janice believed in her abilities, so she studied hard and managed to excel in all the four stages of the competition, finishing as one of the top eleven spellers at the Accra edition of semi-finals which took place in September 2022 who scored 100% in the words given to them on stage, after having sailed through the first two stages of the competition (preliminary and the quarter finals) with cheeky ease.
After the semi-finals, the stage was then set for the 105 finalists from both Accra and Kumasi to do battle at National finals for the ultimate prize; comprising a championship trophy, sponsors’ products and a trip to Washington D. C. to participate in the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The finals of the competition was structured into two segments. Round One was a vocabulary test and this took place two weeks prior to the finals at University of Ghana Campus. Results from the round one came out a day before the finals and Janice had scored 91%, sending a strong signal to everyone including organizers about her intentions at the second part of the competition.
One hundred and two (102) spellers turned up from the initial one hundred and five (105) spellers qualified and expected on the big day from six cities with the youngest being seven (7) years of age and the oldest being thirteen (13) years old.
Janice was part of the first batch of spellers scheduled for the morning of the competition to go through rounds 2, 3 and 4. This was for everybody in the final and comprised of two spelling rounds and a word meaning round. Results from these rounds was going to determine who would qualify for the knockout stages of the competition which starts from round five. By 7:50 am competition had started and sooner than later it was Janice’s turn to spell.
As expected by the family and those who had been following her progress from the beginning of the competition, she got every word correct including the word meaning round thereby guaranteeing her an automatic place at the knockout stage.
The knock-out stage of the competition started somewhere in the afternoon with live streaming and live TV broadcast on Citi TV to viewers on the African continent and the middle East and seventy (70) spellers had made it successfully to the knock-out stage from the morning session.
About seven spellers before Janice’s turn to spell her first word in the knockout stage had gotten their words wrong and had been eliminated from the competition and the tension among parents in the parents seating area became an uneasy one.
The 8th speller who happened to be directly before Janice managed to get his word correct and that calmed the tension a bit, but that was short lived because no one was sure if Janice was going to make it, but she dealt with it beautifully to the admiration of the all parents and other important dignitaries invited, including the first Lady of Ghana, the minister of information, a representative of the American Ambassador to Ghana, etc. She continued her brilliant run in the subsequent rounds after that.
Unfortunately, Janice fell sick along the way at round 9 in the competition and had to be taken off the stage to the ambulance stand for first aid.
After some intervention, she managed to return and spelt all her words correctly even though you could clearly see from her facial expression that she was feeling very uncomfortable and difficult standing to the extent that the organizers had to make her sit down at some point to spell. Her final word she got was a french word. She attempted it alright, but left out the last letter…the letter r.
When the bell was rung that she had gotten it wrong it was greeted with a sudden wave of sadness amongst the audience. But this was when there were only three spellers standing and therefore Janice took the 2nd Runner Up position..
Janice emerged as a Yellow Bee and at the same time finished as the second runner-up, and won multiple awards against all odds, including a trip to compete at the Scripps National Bee Competition in Washington D. C. USA.
Janice will join the winner and the 1st runner up to represent Ghana at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May this year.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee takes place from the Tuesday to Thursday after Memorial Day weekend. This year, it takes place from May 31 to June 2.
Biography of Janice Afiba Nketsiah
“If The Spelling Bee is a red flag, then I am a bull. My days are dedicated to mastering of 300 words and every evening I have an intense coaching session to keep my brain nimble and adept at breaking the roots of each word.
My father is my number one supporter, and he instills confidence in me to express myself whatever the circumstances. My pet dogs comfort me when I’m worried and sad; this happens especially when I consider the way climate change is ravaging our environment and beyond repair. Llullaillaco my favorite word and if I ever had the chance to meet her, I would ask Cece Winans what her favorite word too”.
History Of Scripps National Spelling Bee Competition.
The National Spelling Bee started in 1925 to promote literacy across the country. Nine newspapers hosted the first spelling bee. 90 years later, the literacy efforts have reached an estimated 11 million students every year now. The first National Spelling Bee was won by Frank Neuhauser; his successful spelling of the word “gladiolus” earned him the title.
The spelling bee has taken place every year except during World War II in the years 1943 to 1945, and in 2020 due to the global pandemic. In 1941, the rights to the national program were acquired by the E.W. Scripps Company. The bee is hosted on a non-profit basis by the company at a convention center or hotel in Washington, D.C. The dates for the spelling bee change every year, but it is always in the week following Memorial Day Weekend.
The spelling bee competition is open to all students who have not passed the eighth grade and turned 15 years old. Ineligible candidates also include students who have won the National Spelling Bee previously. The goal of the event is educational; to develop vocabulary in children, encourage correct usage, and promote the English language.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the longest-running educational program in the country, organized by the E.W. Scripps Company and sponsored by 291 partners in the United States, Canada, Guam, Jamaica, Ghana, and Puerto Rico, New Zealand, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.