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Meet Haileybury’s Two-Time Spelling Bee Champion

When you were in Years 7 or 8 would you have been able to spell tricky words like ‘translucent’ or ‘indomitable’? Or would you have been able to find the right letters to spell out ‘suffragette’ or ‘aggregate’?

NEWS 19 Sept 2023

Those kinds of words aren’t a problem for Haileybury’s word whizz, Zac (Year 8), who has just become a back-to-back Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee champion. Zac recently won the Years 7—8 national title in the 2023 Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee – a feat he accomplished last year, too.

Zac (Year 8)

Zac tackled a series of words that would puzzle people two or three times his age. The super speller scored 28/30 in an impressive 1min 25 seconds.

Competitors are given 30 random words from their reading level word list to spell and have 25 seconds to spell each word. Zac says the toughest word he tackled was ‘catarrh’, a condition describing a build-up of mucus in the nose and sinuses.

“I prepared just by reading. I don’t do any quizzes because the odds of one of those words coming up in the Spelling Bee is very unlikely. I didn’t really get nervous but I always deal with nerves by reading and doing something I enjoy”
Zac (Year 8)

He wasn’t expecting to repeat his success of last year after getting two words wrong — ‘cystitis’ and ‘Burramys’ that are Australian pygmy possums.

“I was pretty sure I was not going to win after getting 28. I honestly couldn’t believe I won,” Zac says.

What are the two-times champion’s tips for next year’s Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee competitors?

“Read plenty of books in genres that you enjoy so you are more likely to remember the words,” he says.

Other Haileybury students who won places in this year Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee are Will (Year 4) and Aariyan (Year 8). Will won second place in his category and Aariyan came fifth in the category won by Zac.

Aariyan (Year 8) and Will (Year 4)

The Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee attracted close to 60,000 students from across the country.

Zac wins an iPad and books and each national winner’s school receives a $1,000 voucher for books, technology or other equipment and resources. Zac and the other Spelling Bee winners will travel to Canberra to meet the Prime Minister later this year.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the Prime Minister again and seeing if maybe he recognises me,” says Zac.