Winner Charles Hamilton, Jr., declared: “I was very nervous, with all the people there, how I was severely outnumbered by girls, I didn’t think or have enough faith within myself to think that I could actually come first or come out victorious. I emerged First Place and I’m so happy.”
THE HONOURABLE JEROME K. FITZGERALD
MINISTER OF EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
2015 BAHAMAS NATIONAL SPELLING BEE CHAMPION
ST. ANNE’S SCHOOL
TUESDAY, 24TH MARCH, 2015
Mrs. Cynthia Wells, Principal
Mr. Curt Hollingsworth, Vice Principal
Mrs. Nicolette Archer Vice Principal
Mrs. Arlene Major Senior Mistress
Mrs. Joann Whylly Senior Mistress
Fr. Kabiga – Chaplin
Mr. Charles Hamilton Jr., 2015 Bahamas National Spelling Bee Champion
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is such a pleasure for me to be in Blue Wave territory this morning, first and foremost to personally congratulate Charles Hamilton Jr. for walking away with the coveted title of 2015 Bahamas National Spelling Bee Champion, and secondly, to share a very special message with Charles and each and every student under the sound of my voice.
It all began last Thursday when I had the privilege of meeting the Spelling Bee finalists at my office and presenting them with certificates and a gift.
It was during this encounter that each student had the opportunity to make their introduction and as it came upon Charles’ turn to introduce himself and his coach, I immediately saw myself some 40 years ago. As he opened his mouth to address us, I experienced an instant flashback to my childhood. You see, what many people do not know, is the fact that I had a speech impediment throughout most of my childhood and in fact I still have some days when I have trouble getting words out.
When I was in school, particularly primary school I stammered very badly, so much so that I didn’t like to read aloud and I didn’t like English class because I was required to speak. As a result of my fear of being embarrassed, I gravitated towards math because in my mind, I didn’t need to talk to be good in math.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said that “you gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do thing which you think you cannot do.” I never thought that I would be good at public speaking, but what I knew was that I was determined give my best effort to conquer my fear of speaking publicly due to my speech impairment.
Had I allowed my fear to deter me, I would not have joined the debate team in high school; had I allowed fear to deter me, I would not have gone on to become a lawyer, had I allowed my fear to deter me, I would not have become a successful entrepreneur at one time employing almost 200 persons in my thirties; If I had allowed my fear to deter me, I would not have entered politics and become the Minister of Education. If I had allowed my fear to influence my belief in what I could or could not do, I would not have accomplished all that the Good Lord intended for me to accomplish.
What I saw in Charles that differed from what I had experienced was his confidence to face his challenge head on at such an early age and not allow it to keep him from pursuing the desires of his heart.
I have come to honour Charles because he is a clear example to all children and adults, that no matter what challenges you face, with confidence and determination, you can overcome those fears and you can succeed. Too many people, both children and adults make excuses that they cannot accomplish certain things because of impediments or limitations. They fail before they even begin; simply because they do not have the courage to even try.
What Charles has demonstrated not just by winning the championship but by even entering a spelling bee is that no matter what challenges you may face in life, the only thing that hinders your success is your attitude and your ability to overcome those challenges. Charles could have easily said that he would not allow himself to go through stammering in front of others and them knowing about his speech impediment but he chose not to. He chose to participate, he chose to try.
I can vividly remember Charles standing in my conference room to introduce himself and not being able to get the words out of his mouth; he did not get frustrated or overwhelmed, he simply stopped, took a deep breath and started again. He took his breath and refocused and when the words did come out of his mouth, they rolled off his tongue effortlessly.
Charles, I want you to know that you are a true champion and a hero to me and many others for various reasons.
You are a champion for overcoming your speech impediment and not allowing it to stop you from engaging in public speaking. You are a champion in the eyes of all individuals who have some sort of physical neurological and learning challenge not just a speech impediment. You are a testament, that with the right attitude character and fortitude you can achieve anything.
You have displayed self-confidence, determination, focus, dedication and perseverance. I can assure all of you in attendance today, that if you continue to use these qualities as your guiding principles, you will always be successful in your endeavors.
So, I salute you Charles, because you truly epitomize what it means to be an over-achiever; the qualities needed to achieve ones goals and exceed in life. And I also congratulate you on being this year’s Bahamian Spelling Bee Champion. I am confident you will represent yourself, your school, your family and our Country well in Washington D.C.
I also wish to extend my congratulations to all of Sunday’s participants and to Ms. Jamsin Adamson, the 2nd place winner and Ms. Prachi Kondapuram (kon-da-pu-ram), the 3rd place winner. All of the finalist performed exceptionally well and I am proud of all of you for the hard work and commitment you put into preparing yourselves.
Once again, congratulations to Charles Hamilton Jr. and all the best as you travel to Washington to be a national ambassador and speller extraordinaire.
God bless you, and God bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas!