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New Zealand Speller off to Washington DC


24 May 2007

New Zealand Speller off to Washington DC

New Zealand National Spelling Bee 2007 Champion Speller Kate Weir, a 13 year-old from Linwood High School in Christchurch, is deep in preparation for the 80 th Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington DC next week (30 May – 31 May).

Kate is the country’s third representative at the US Spelling Bee which is the longest run academic competition in the world and has been held more times than the Academy Awards.

Kate appears cool, cool, calm and collected when she spells but she says that she is very nervous about competing in the ‘Olympics of Spelling’.

“It is such a huge event and all these people at school are going to be tracking my performance. It is great that everyone is so excited for me – two teachers have even shouted me lunch to mark my achievement, she says.

Kate has been preparing for the ‘Olympics of Spelling’ by reading lots of books with challenging words and going over all the preparatory material sent to her by the organisers' of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

“I spend my spare time studying and my spelling has definitely improved since the New Zealand National Final last month.

“I can now spell ‘schopenhauerism,’ (the philosophy of Schopenhauer, who taught that only the cessation of desire can solve the problems arising from the universal impulse of the will to live.) I couldn’t spell that before,” she says.

Kate is looking forward to her week in Washington DC where she will spend two days seeing the sights of the city with the other 286 competitors.

She is traveling with her mother Paula, and her study guide, the five kilogram monster Webster's Third New International Dictionary containing more than 450,000 words spanning "a" to "zyzzogeton," which she won at the New Zealand National Final along with return airfares to Washington DC for two, accommodation and spending money.

The trip is Kate’s first time overseas and she says that she is looking forward to seeing what Washington DC is like compared to New Zealand.

“For the Spelling Bee I am just hoping that I can do the best that I can possibly do,” she says.

The Scripps National Spelling attracts more than nine million competitors hopeful of winning a place in the championship final. .

The winner of the US Final will walk away with a hefty prize package including US$37,000 in cash.

The New Zealand National Spelling Bee is supported by the New Zealand Listener, ZM, Franklin Electronic Publishers, Plunket and the Beige Brigade.

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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