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Wellington to Host National Spelling Bee Final on 28 October

Wellington to host national Spelling Bee final

20 October 2017: Twenty-one of New Zealand’s top spellers will battle it out for the coveted title of 2017 New Zealand Spelling Bee champion at the event’s riveting tension-filled national final in Wellington this month.

The finalists have won their places out of a field of hundreds of Year 9 and 10 students, from more than 100 secondary schools and colleges around New Zealand.

The rigorous competition began with a written classroom test, followed by six regional semi-finals held around New Zealand in which the top 200 spellers competed.

Now in its 13th year, the New Zealand Spelling Bee, supported by the Wright Family Foundation, is a competitive spelling event aimed at encouraging Year 0 to 10 students to gain a love of the English language. The programme improves spelling capabilities, comprehension and communication skills.

Founder Janet Lucas says this year’s talent has been better than ever, and she’s expecting the national final to be a nail-biter.

“The standards increase every year, and we find the spellers are now coming with a real focus and a competitive drive – they want to do well and they want to win,” says Janet.

“The students have generally done the classroom spelling bee when they were younger, and have been looking forward to competing in the National Spelling Bee once they start college. They’re coming prepared, and it makes for an edge-of-your-seat competition!

“At the Northland regional semi-final, for example, the competition was so close we decided to put through an extra student to the national final.”

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The 21 finalists travelling to Wellington will be treated to a banquet dinner and will visit Parliament and Te Papa before competing in the grand final.

The winner will receive the spelling bee trophy, $5000 towards their academic pursuits, and the coveted title of New Zealand Spelling Bee champion.

The New Zealand Spelling Bee has become a much-loved annual event and has seen tens of thousands of students participate since it started in 2005.

Its inspiration was Spellbound, a documentary film about the US-based Scripps National Spelling Bee. Last year the New Zealand Spelling Bee final was televised in a TVNZ show, also called Spellbound.

“The New Zealand Spelling Bee is fiercely competitive in a fun way,” says Janet. “It’s a sport with a more intellectual focus, and a goal of supporting children to widen their vocabularies and love of language.

“A lack of communication skills are the root of many problems in society. Increasing vocabulary leads to effective communication skills, and a student’s ability to express themselves and understand the world around them.”

In addition to the National Spelling Bee for Year 9-10 students, the New Zealand Spelling Bee encompasses a second programme: the New Zealand Classroom Spelling Bee, for Years 0 to 8. Resources are provided free of charge for both programmes, allowing students to study word lists and learn new words, competing in classroom tests.

The New Zealand Spelling Bee has grown significantly since 2014, when the Wright Family Foundation came on board as the programme’s sole sponsor. The foundation’s support secured the event’s future, resourcing it so that the programme could be expanded into primary and intermediate schools. About 800 primary schools and intermediate schools now sign up for the classroom programme every year.

Teachers interested in signing up for the programme can find out more at www.spellingbee.co.nz.

The New Zealand Spelling Bee grand final will be held at Te Papa, Wellington, on Saturday 28 October from 1pm to 2.30pm.


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