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Meet our 2022 Spelling Bee Champion

It’s two in a row for Haileybury as Zachary Cheng blitzes the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee

NEWS 14 Sept 2022

Cast your mind back to when you were in Year 7. Did you know how to spell ‘iconoclast’ or ‘vacillate’? In a spelling test, how would you have scored if you were suddenly asked to spell ‘disseminate’ or ‘bourgeois’?

Those words weren’t a problem for Haileybury’s Zachary Cheng (Year 7).

His spelling prowess and uncanny ability to spell some of the English language’s trickiest words have seen him crowned the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee 2022 champion in the Years 7—8 group.

It is the second year in a row that Haileybury has fielded a national champion in the competition. Last year, Theekshitha Karthik who was also in Year 7, was one of the three 2021 category winners to take out the national title.

Zachary, 13, managed to correctly spell a string of words that would challenge people two or three times his age. He scored 28/30 in a very speedy 1min 39seconds.

Words such as astrakhan and psephology tripped off his tongue with ease. In case you are wondering, psephology is the official study of how people choose to vote in elections. Astrakhan is the tight curly fleece from newborn lambs.

“I guessed one or two of the words and didn’t expect to get them correct”
Zachary Cheng

“But they were educated guesses because I read a lot. I read almost every day for an hour at least and that helps with my vocabulary.”

The Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee attracted a record 61,224 students across the country and the winners were congratulated by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

“You’ve been up against some very tough competition, not to mention some of the curlier words the English language has to offer — and you’ve come through with flying colours,” said Mr Albanese.

“What you’ve done is no small feat, so you can take great pride in your achievement. Spelling is one of the great keys that can open up the world, and you’ve shown that you can handle that key with aplomb. Take a bow. You’ve well and truly earned this.”

Zachary and the other Spelling Bee category winners will travel to Canberra to meet the Prime Minister later this year. He also wins an iPad and books plus a $1,000 prize for Haileybury.

Well done, Zachary.