Showers of Blessings church wins bowl, bee

Spelling Bee champion Ranesha Boston recites a word during the Spelling Bee competition.

AARON E. DAYE/Special to the Guardian
Published: Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 3:02 p.m.

Showers of Blessings Harvest Center swept the 5th annual Black History and Cultural Brain Bowl and Spelling Bee last Thursday by winning both events.

In the cultural brain bowl competition, the team from Showers of Blessings bested four-time champions Mount Olive AME Church by a narrow margin. In the spelling bee, Ranesha Boston, representing Showers of Blessing, won first place, while Azalea Torres, representing the Alachua County Housing Authority, was a runner-up. Both girls received trophies.

The 37 students who participated in the event came prepared to duke it out academically in front of the nearly 250 guests, mostly family and friends, who attended the event at the King Center.

In his greetings, Rodney Long, president and founder of the King Commission, said the purpose of the event was to include the youth in recognition of the Martin Luther King celebration.

The Flossie B. McLendon Drill Team, under the direction of Bernard Hicks, presented the colors and the opening song, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the Negro National Anthem, was performed by the Xylophone Band from Star Christian Academ, also under the direction of Hicks. The Rev. Dr. Marie Herring of DaySpring Baptist Church offered the prayer. The Eastside High School Gospel Choir, under the direction of Nate McCray, provided the entertainment.

Long said public schools are not doing as good a job as they should in educating black children, especially in African-American history.

"Ask yourselves," Long said. "How are our young people going to live the dream and preserve the legacy if they don't know it? Young people need to understand civil rights and African-American history."

Long said African-American males are graduating from high school at a 37 percent rate as he called for putting an emphasis on improving graduation rates.

"We're in a crisis," Long said. "Look at graduation rates and the number (of African-American males) in the prison system. If we continue on this trend, we will lose one generation."

Thirty-two high school students made up the five teams that battled academically in the brain bowl contest, while five fifth-graders competed in the 2nd annual spelling bee. All participants received T-shirts and certificates of appreciation. Showers of Blessings, the winners of the brain bowl, received $500, and the runner-up, Mount Olive AME Church, received $300.

Other teams competing in the cultural brain bowl included Precious Pearls, a youth group sponsored by Alapha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.; Reichert House Youth Academy and Monteocha New Life Christian Center.

The spelling bee contestants included the Alachua County Housing Authority, the Gainesville Housing Authority, Monteocha New Life Christian Center and Showers of Blessings.

Coordinator Cynthia Mingo called all of the participants winners. She said the students worked hard to prepare for the cultural brain bowl and the spelling bee, and thanked the parents for their help.

"It takes the village," Mingo told the audience. "You are the village."

Ranesha said she won the spelling bee because she had studied every day since November. "I feel happy I won," Ranesha said. "I studied every day."

Other Spelling Bee participants included Charles Jones and Alicia Clayton, both representing the Gainesville Housing Authority, and Kamia Jackson, representing Monteocha New Life.

Natalie King, one of the coaches of Showers of Blessings brain bowl team, said the students were very dedicated and worked together as a team. She said parents and church members were supportive. "We were motivated and we worked together as a team," King said.

Olexis Ellis, a key member of the Shower of Blessings team, said, "We studied really hard and it paid off. And we will be back next year."

The Showers of Blessings team also included Sequinta McCreary, Janiah McKay, Jermonica Williams and Airel Word.

G.W. Mingo, one of the coaches of the Mount Olive AME brain bowl team, said the students knew the material and at practice didn't miss any of the questions.

"We've had a great run, and I'm very proud (of the students)," G.W. Mingo said. "We're coming back next year with a vengeance."

The Mount Olive AME Church brain bowl team included Charmian Akins, Daniel Brown, Damarcus Causey, Davinus Causey, Natalie Hill and Briana Parker.

The Reichert House team included Isiah Blount, Lyndon Boykins, Darrel Davis, Jared Goar, Dominique Gordon, Travis Highland, Brandon Jones and Donovan Newsome.

The Precious Pearls team included Alex Davis, Natassia Harvin, Tiara Luckie, Kailey Wade, Kanille Wade and Lauren Watts.

The Monteocha New Life Christian Center team included Keonte' Dowdy, Jamal Gaskin, Douglas Green, Dreshaud Miller, Chandlum Moore, Tasharra Miller and Aubriana Strawder.

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