Joshua Winsor was a last minute inclusion to the regional Premier’s Spelling Bee on Wednesday when the school’s first place getter was overseas, but that didn’t stop him becoming the senior winner.
The 12-year-old Year 6 student from Ellison Public School successfully spelt disconcerting, “doing slow breathing” to keep his nerves at bay.
The runner-up, Rupan Senthilnathan Prabhadevi, 10, in Year 5 at Glenbrook Public, stumbled in the ninth round on gibberish, substituting a j for the g, a word he’s never likely to forget again.
Joshua, an avid reader of The Conspiracy 365 book series, said he “didn’t practise much” in the lead-up, but would look at the list more closely for the state finals.
Words at the regional finals were drawn randomly from a list of more than 100 and in the last three rounds students had to spell unseen words that they had not been able to practise. Winners were given a children’s book, as well as a Macquarie dictionary and thesaurus and the schools won an online subscription with Macquarie.
Some of the trickier words included: consequential, marvellous, haiku, petulant, multiplicity, charlatan, allegretto, contemporaneous, affogato, miscellaneous, surrogate and Mississippi.
Nineteen schools from the Blue Mountains and Penrith took part in the competition at Blaxland Public School .
The top spellers in the junior division were Oliver Bishell, from Glenbrook Public School, with the runner-up Aryan Tatial from Regentville Public School.
Announcer Lisa van den Dolder, from the Department of Education’s Arts Unit, said she was impressed by the standard.
“They were really good spellers,” Mrs van den Dolder, who during the five hour event, only stumbled on announcing one word – immemorial.
“I feel for them [during the event]. I look at them and give them a smile when they first step up to the microphone and then my head goes down. I’m really conscious that there’s no facial cues.”
She said the event was a great way to encourage kids to have a “bit more fun with their spelling … and an opportunity to showcase excellence”.
The state finals will be held on Friday November 2 in the Eugene Goossens Hall at ABC Ultimo. ABC Radio usually livestreams the event.