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NZ Champion Speller goes To US

May 21

NZ Champion Speller goes from “a” to “zyzzogeton” for US Spelling Bee

A five-kilogram monster, the Webster's Third New International Dictionary, is traveling with the New Zealand Vegemite Spelling Bee’s champion, 13-year-old Thomas North, to the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals in Washington DC next week (26 May – 31 May).

The dictionary contains 450,000 words spanning ‘a’ to ‘zyzzogeton’ helping Thomas, in his last stages of preparation for the competition, learn hundreds of the English language’s less common words.

Thomas, from Hamilton Boys’ High School, is the country’s fourth representative at the 81st Scripps National Spelling Bee, the longest run academic competition in the world and held more times than the Academy Awards.

His mother, Katherine North, and Nicola Daly, a lecturer in the Department of Arts and Language Education at Waikato University, have coached Thomas.
Nicola has been helping Thomas with language related issues including a history of the English language and origin, sounds and characteristics of English words.

Thomas says he is looking forward to the whole Washington DC experience and is trying not to be too overwhelmed by the prospect of competing in the ‘Olympics of Spelling’.

“I would like to get through the preliminaries, into the quarterfinals and then I am going to try and win,” he says.
Thomas won the place at the Scripps finals, along with return airfares for two, accommodation and spending money in New Zealand’s Spelling Bee finals in March. He will spend three days sight seeing in Washington along with the other 288 competitors.

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

The New Zealand Vegemite Spelling Bee is supported by Vegemite, New Zealand Listener, ZM, and Franklin Electronic Publishers.


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