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Lower South Island Regional Spelling Bee Champion Crowned

12 August 2014

Lower South Island Regional Spelling Bee Champion Crowned

Alex Leckie-Zaharic from John McGlashan College, Dunedin, is heading to the 2014 New Zealand Spelling Bee Final after winning the Lower South Island Spelling Bee Semi Final late yesterday.

Alex, in Year Nine, will now be burning the midnight oil, studying for the Final on Saturday 18 October, the tenth final for the New Zealand Spelling Bee. The skillful speller will compete against 15 other finalists from around the country vying for the title of 2014 New Zealand Spelling Bee Champion.

Alex correctly spelt the word ‘arthritis’ in the final round against George Sabonadiere, Year Nine, from Logan Park High School. George took out second place after misspelling ‘nuance’.

For event manager Janet Lucas, it is hugely rewarding to see the enthusiasm and skill is still there after 10 years of running the competition.

“It is a huge accomplishment to get this far in the competition,” says Janet.

“A total of 200 spellers from around the country advance to the semi finals after classroom spelling bees. The top spellers then compete in one of the regional spelling bees. From those competitions, 16 finalists are chosen and will be studying hard to become the national spelling bee champion in a couple of months time.”

Both Dunedin finalists have won places at the Wellington-based New Zealand Spelling Bee along with travel and accommodation to attend the event.

Whoever wins the 2014 final will be crowned New Zealand’s Spelling Bee Champion, winning $5000 in cash along with the National Spelling Bee trophy.

Wayne Wright, director of new sponsor School’s Out, nationwide before and after school care and holiday programmes, says student participation in the Spelling Bee is greater than ever.

“It’s fantastic to see the Spelling Bee growing in popularity year after year.

“It shows that students are still keen to develop their orthography skills and challenge themselves. Spelling Bees can be as much fun and as mentally demanding as physical sports.”

Wright also leads the Wright Family Trust, established in part to support and promote childhood literacy. It has supported the introduction of nationwide classroom spelling resources and teacher’s awards. The 2014 Teacher Awards, each worth $5,000, are for teachers whose innovative and effective programme or initiative instills a love of language in their students.

The nation’s best spellers are taken from a pool of Year 9 and 10 students from across the country.

The New Zealand Spelling Bee, sponsored by School’s Out, Before and After School Care and Holiday Programmes, and 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.

INTRODUCING THE NEW SPONSOR (‘School’s Out’ Before and After School Care and Holiday Programmes)
It’s very expensive to run a spelling bee, and that’s why Janet and her team are thrilled that ‘Schools Out’ Before and After School Care and Holiday Programmes is the new Spelling Bee sponsor.

‘School’s Out’ sponsorship not only ensures the continued running of the Bee, it has helped build the programme by introducing a new classroom spelling resource and the Teacher’s Awards.

Without its support we could not run the bee. ‘School’s Out’ is committed to New Zealand children’s literacy. Wayne Wright leads the Wright Family Trust, and is the director of School’s Out. Wayne Wright is also leads Kidicorp Education and Care Centres.

Released by on behalf of the New Zealand Spelling Bee. For further information please visit


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