PM’s Spelling Bee winners announced

ByRahul

Sep 14, 2023 #Abigail Koh, #age categories, #Anthony Albanese, #Apostles Primary School, #Australia, #Australia and New Zealand, #Australian Capital Territory, #Australian pygmy possums, #Black Forest Primary School, #Canberra, #Castor M, #category final, #Cathedral School, #Cessnock High School, #championship crown, #class teacher, #College Townsville, #competition categories, #country battle, #David Caird, #Diana Jenkins, #digital competition, #Emmaus Christian School, #English, #Epping Public School, #Epping Views Primary School, #Fahan School, #favourite thing, #final round, #George W, #grand prize, #Green level, #Green level competitor, #Harrisdale Senior High School, #Henry W, #Hollywood Primary School, #Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School, #International Grammar School, #Isabella R, #Jack F, #Jason, #Lara Steele, #level title, #library sessions, #Literacy, #McAuley Catholic Primary School, #Melbourne school, #Modbury High School, #Moreton Bay College, #Mount Nelson Primary School, #Namadgi School, #Naomi, #national champion, #Newington College, #North Ainslie Primary School, #North Rocks Public School, #Oceania, #Orange level, #overjoyed class teacher, #parliament house, #Pedare Christian College, #Perth, #Peter A, #Philip Gostelow, #Picnic Creek State School, #Princes Street Primary School, #Providence Christian School, #Pullenvale State School, #Reading levels, #Red level, #remarkable back-to-back victories, #Riverdale Primary School, #Riverton Primary School, #Samuel Wright, #Sarah Haley, #school community, #school department head, #Scotch College, #Serpell Primary School, #Sirus College, #Somerville House, #St Helens District High School, #St John, #state finals, #student registrations, #Table Cape Primary School, #Ten Network, #Thomas N, #Thomdon Park Primary School, #two-time national finalist, #Wagga Wagga Christian College, #West End State School, #Western Australia, #winning back-to-back titles, #young speller, #Zachary Cheng, #zombie apocalypse


Call it the Zac Attack, because 2022 reigning champion Zachary Cheng, year 8, has successfully defended his Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee crown. Claiming the Red level title in consecutive attempts, the Victorian super speller also delivered a hat-trick for Haileybury College, with the Melbourne school in the winner’s circle for the third straight year.

Competition kicked off with nearly 60,000 students registered, but Zac’s score of 28/30 in just 1:25.596 was nearly twice as fast as his nearest rival in the finals.

After getting two words out of 30 wrong – cystitis and Burramys (Australian pygmy possums) – Zac said winning was “pretty surprising”.

“I couldn’t believe it, honestly, because I didn’t feel good about only (getting) 28,” he said. “I was pretty sure I was not going to win.”

The hardest word Zac faced in the final was “catarrh” – not that he misspelt it.

“It’s not the country (Qatar), it’s something to do with … your body,” Zac said. “I think I read it in a book … and I just remembered it.

“Most of the words I got right I did read from books, because I read a lot every day.”

Parents Caroline and Ronald were “super proud”, according to the back-to-back Bee whiz.

“My dad said he wanted to go on the plane (to Canberra) this time, instead of in the car,” he said.

Crediting his class teacher, middle school department head Sarah Haley, with “pushing us to read a lot”, Zac said library sessions helped too.

Zac and Ms Haley agreed that avid* reading played a big role in his success.

“He is an inspiring* example of how dedication* and a deep appreciation* for literature* can lead to excellence,” Ms Haley said.

Zac was not Haileybury’s only top performer. Green level competitor Will W, year 4, came 2nd in his category final, and Aariyan M, year 8, finished 5th just a few places behind Zac.

“Congratulations to Will, Aariyan, and all our students for their exceptional achievements, and to Zachary for his remarkable back-to-back victories,” Ms Haley said.

Of the grand prize trip to the nation’s capital with the other two winners, Zac was most looking forward to “meeting the Prime Minister again, seeing if maybe he recognises me” – and was “inspired” to throw another spelling curve ball Mr Albanese’s way.

With the other two champions again hailing from WA, Zac has the big job at Parliament House of representing all the eastern states for a second time.

“I feel really proud that I’m representing the eastern seaboard,” he said.

Orange level (years 5-6) winner Abigail Koh, 12, knocked defending champion and fellow Perth student Ozi Egesi into second place with less than 13 seconds between their two perfect scores.

“It still hasn’t sunk in,” the Oberthur Primary School star student said. “I actually found out two days before my birthday so I think it was a really nice present.”

Bound for selective high school Perth Modern next year, spelling isn’t Abigail’s only gift.

“I really love everything to do with English, writing and of course music,” she said. “I play two instruments, the piano as my main and violin.

“I love writing, it’s my absolute strongest subject. I do a lot of writing in my free time, I have a 160-page document in my MacBook that I use to write my own stories. I like writing about my own passions, mostly music, but I also write a lot of fantasy, zombie apocalypse sort of things.”

As for meeting the PM, Abigail said she already has a word ready for him, combining her two loves, English and music: “Ethnomusicological.”

The big question is what’s in WA’s water, with the state home to four of the last six winners. And it’s a small world over on the west coast. The newly minted Green level (years 3-4) champion Samuel Wright, 9, is a year 4 student at Providence Christian School, also attended by Orange level runner up Ozi, now in year 6.

Samuel said he was “very surprised and excited” to be named the 2023 Green level national champion. The keen photographer and Enid Blyton fan said while he was “nervous” about meeting the PM, it was “very nice” sharing his win with his family, friends and school community, including overjoyed class teacher Lara Steele.

“She couldn’t believe it either, she was so excited,” Samuel said with a giggle. “It’s very nice because they have helped me a lot as the years have gone by and they’ve been very kind to me.”

Samuel’s dad Jason said he and wife Naomi were “stoked”.

“We were in disbelief, it was amazing,” he said.

Meanwhile year 6 Epping Public School super student Aditya Paul has only just turned 12, but he can lay claim to being NSW’s best young speller.

A two-time national finalist in the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee, Aditya has been a state finalist every year since the Bee began in 2021.

In this year’s Orange category (years 5-6), Aditya placed fourth nationally and was the only NSW student to earn a Top Five spot across three age categories.

“The competition is a whirlwind* of words, hints and sentences,” Aditya said. “Throw in a 25-second timer and you have a truly amazing experience.”

His favourite thing about the free, digital competition run by Kids News was the combination of speed and accuracy.

“The fact that it’s a national competition also appeals to me – I can test myself compared to people from other states,” he said.

Aditya’s next challenge is the upcoming state finals of the NSW Premier’s Spelling Bee.

“But the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee is certainly one of my favourites,” he said.

NATIONAL PLACINGS REVEALED

After a hard-fought third and final round that saw 69 students around the country battle it out for the chance to claim the grand prize trip to Canberra to meet the Prime Minister at Parliament House, among other prizes, the victors have been named.

In each state and territory, across three competition categories, here are the results of the national final, including each student’s national placing in their category.

VIC GREEN LEVEL (YEARS 3-4)

2nd place – Will W, Haileybury College (City): 28/30, 1:41.060

5th place – Miles M, St Joseph’s School: 26/30, 2:48.042

6th place – Muntaha I, Sirus College: 25/30, 1:32.501

VIC ORANGE LEVEL (YEARS 5-6)

3rd place – Dion C, Epping Views Primary School: 29/30, 1:15.448

13th place – Will R, Mentone Grammar School: 24/30, 1:27.136

17th place – Thomas N, Serpell Primary School: 23/30, 1:57.023

VIC RED LEVEL (YEARS 7-8)

1st place – Zachary C, Haileybury College: 28/30, 1:25.596

5th place – Aariyan M, Haileybury College City: 26/30, 1:14.302

11th place – Cameron W, Scotch College: 22/30, 1:41.142

NSW GREEN LEVEL (YEARS 3-4)

8th place – Kayla V, International Grammar School: 25/30, 2:00.421

11th place – Amos M, Wagga Wagga Christian College: 24/30, 1:42.630

19th place – Elliot F, St Andrew’s Cathedral School: 22/30, 2:22.156

NSW ORANGE LEVEL (YEARS 5-6)

4th place – Aditya P, Epping Public School: 28/30, 1:16.064

6th place – Hamza W, North Rocks Public School: 27/30, 1:43.345

19th place – Santana T, McAuley Catholic Primary School: 22/30, 3:49.724

NSW RED LEVEL (YEARS 7-8)

6th place – Sophia D, Georges River Grammar: 25/30, 5:31.354

8th place – George W, Newington College: 24/30, 3:21.308

13th place – Rhea Y, Cessnock High School: 22/30, 6:01.219

QLD GREEN LEVEL (YEARS 3-4)

12th place – Isabella R, Queen of Apostles Primary School: 24/30, 2:31.699

18th place – Jack F, West End State School: 23/30, 3:00.491

20th place – Ruby Q, St Joseph’s School: 22/30, 2:22.445

QLD ORANGE LEVEL (YEARS 5-6)

5th place – Jillian S, Pullenvale State School: 28/30, 2:12.491

14th place – Leila R, Somerville House: 24/30, 1:51.329

16th place – Akira K, Picnic Creek State School: 24/30, 2:52.484

QLD RED LEVEL (YEARS 7-8)

2nd place – Deona E, St Patrick’s College Townsville: 28/30, 2:38.943

14th place – Ava B, Moreton Bay College: 20/30, 3:49.198

17th place – Ethan K, Kingaroy: 15/30, 1:56.716

SA GREEN LEVEL (YEARS 3-4)

7th place – Sana P, Avenues College: 25/30, 1:43.479

9th place – Henry W, Black Forest Primary School: 24/30, 1:23.939

13th place – Peter A, Riverdale Primary School: 23/30, 1:14.453

SA ORANGE LEVEL (YEARS 5-6)

11th place – Melinda W, Pedare Christian College: 25/30, 1:25.644

20th place – Salima S, Avenues College: 21/30, 3:06.853

21st place – Chloe S, Thomdon Park Primary School: 20/30, 1:54.155

SA RED LEVEL (YEARS 7-8)

7th place – Musashi N, Modbury High School: 24/30, 2:57.246

20th place – Willem S, St John’s Grammar School: 10/30, 2:23.249

21st place – Ethan W, St John’s Grammar School: 10/30, 6:50.370

TAS GREEN LEVEL (YEARS 3-4)

4th place – Eden Y, Launceston Christian School: 26/30, 2:06.569

16th place – Cash D, Launceston Christian School: 23/30, 2:34.217

17th place – Sienna C, Table Cape Primary School: 23/30, 2:34.771

TAS ORANGE LEVEL (YEARS 5-6)

9th place – Sahaja B, Fahan School: 26/30, 2:12.452

10th place – Otto L, Princes Street Primary School: 26/30, 2:29.996

22nd place – Sophie O, Mount Nelson Primary School: 19/30, 1:53.664

TAS RED LEVEL (YEARS 7-8)

16th place – Edward S, Sacred Heart College: 17/30, 5:01.793

18th place – Marious Castor M, St Helens District High School: 15/30, 4:19.988

19th place – Mia C, Sacred Heart College: 12/30, 3:39.854

WA GREEN LEVEL (YEARS 3-4)

1st place – Samuel W, Providence Christian College: 28/30, 1:28.664

14th place – Jesse O, Hollywood Primary School: 23/30, 1:56.275

15th place – Declan C, Riverton Primary School: 23/30, 2:04.087

WA ORANGE LEVEL (YEARS 5-6)

1st place – Abigail K, Oberthur Primary School: 30/30, 1:21.819

2nd place – Ozi Egesi, Providence Christian College: 30/30 1:34.805

8th place – Samantha L, Oberthur Primary School: 27/30, 2:08.144

WA RED LEVEL (YEARS 7-8)

3rd place – Eu Jin K, Harrisdale Senior High School: 28/30, 2:48.667

9th place – Rahi P, Willetton Senior High School: 23/30, 1:56.677

10th place – Subah H, Willetton Senior High School: 23/30, 4:08.733

NT GREEN LEVEL (YEARS 3-4)

10th place – Dulcie S, Ross Park Primary School: 24/30, 1:41.508

22nd place – Aidan B, Ross Park Primary School: 19/30, 2:16.663

24th place – Noah M, Ross Park Primary School: 17/30, 2:10.717

NT ORANGE LEVEL (YEARS 5-6)

12th place – Koby R, Ross Park Primary School: 25/30, 3:27.296

23rd place – Hannah F, Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School: 19/30, 2:03.669

24th place – Isbel H, Ross Park Primary School: 17/30, 3:35.989

NT RED LEVEL (YEARS 7-8)

Did not compete

ACT GREEN LEVEL (YEARS 3-4)

3rd place – Lucy M, Namadgi School: 27/30, 1:25.094

21st place – Shiphrah C, Emmaus Christian School: 20/30, 1:53.331

23rd place – Charlotte W, Canberra Girls’ Grammar: 17/30, 1:18.948

ACT ORANGE LEVEL (YEARS 5-6)

7th place – Riya G, Burgmann Anglican School: 27/30, 1:49.238

15th place – Edward S, Emmaus Christian School: 24/30, 2:45.230

18th place – Andrew M, North Ainslie Primary School: 23/30, 3:04.078

ACT RED LEVEL (YEARS 7-8)

4th place – Zayan T, Burgmann Anglican School: 27/30, 4:40.247

12th place – Raghib B, Burgmann Anglican School: 22/30, 3:55.861

15th place – Maleesha G, Burgmann Anglican School: 18/30: 3:27.225

Originally published as The 2023 national winners of the PM’s Spelling Bee are announced

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