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NZ Champion Speller to Compete in US

New Zealand Champion Speller to Compete in US Spelling Bee Final

Charlotte Roose, a 12 year-old from Hillcrest High School was declared the 2005 New Zealand Spelling Bee champion and the country’s representative at the 78th Scripps Howard Spelling Bee contest in Washington DC from May 31 – June 2.


Governor General and Charlotte Roose.

Her winning word was “contiguous”. The runner up was Amanda Shen from Mt Roskill Grammar in Auckland. She tripped over the word, “ensemble”.

Eight finalists from around the country were brought to Wellington to compete on Saturday afternoon in the national final after placing in one of three regional competitions last month.

Charlotte says that after spelling “contiguous” she was amazed to hear everyone clap as she thought she had got it wrong.

“I was really nervous. I approached each word carefully and slowly but did not expect to win. I just came to have fun,” she says.

Charlotte says she is excited about the prospect of representing New Zealand at the US Final.

“It will be my first trip overseas but I don’t really mind how I do as it has been such a big achievement getting this far,” she says.

The winner of the Final will be this country’s first ever representative at the US Spelling Bee which is the world’s longest run academic competition and has been held more times than the Academy Awards.

In America it attracts more than nine million competitors hopeful of winning a place in the championship final.

Event manager Janet Lucas says it is a great honour – and somewhat unbelievable – that a New Zealander has been able to take part.

The New Zealand Spelling Bee Champion will also meet fellow New Zealander, Sam Lawson, who lives in Florida and has also qualified for the US Final. Sam has indicated that he is keen to communicate with the New Zealand winner and offer them his support and study tips.

The competition’s pronouncer was Hamish Mcdouall, who became a national identity 16 years ago when he won Sale of the Century nine nights in a row and a year later won Mastermind. Hamish says there is a lot of similarity between game shows and the spelling bee competition - both are time pressured and demand performing in front of an audience and cameras.

Janet says the competition was loaded with excitement, tension and drama as the spellers worked through a series of grueling rounds

Each speller was given one word per round. Spell it correctly and they progressed to the next round. An incorrect spelling and they were out.

Charlotte won an incredible prize package that included an expenses paid trip for two to Washington. This prize was donated by The Independent Business Weekly.

She also won a copy of the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, a $100 US Savings Bond and a supporter’s outfit from the New Zealand Cricket Team’s Beige Brigade.

Jenni McManus, Editor of The Independent says she agreed to sponsor the Spelling Bee because she sees first-hand the results of a 30-year decline in the teaching of spelling in most state schools in New Zealand.

“Many journalists graduating from tertiary institutes have only a hazy idea of correct spelling (and grammar) and this severely hampers their ability to communicate with readers. Some are such bad spellers they cannot even use the spell-check on their computer. The Independent is happy to do anything it can to ram home to students that correct spelling really does matter and that employers are increasingly intolerant of staff that cannot get it right,” she says.

Radius Pharmacies and eye-Q memory and concentration supplements also supported the event financially.

The New Zealand Spelling Bee is administered by a charitable trust. Its’ purpose is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage.

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