Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee national winners revealed

Could you outperform the national winners of the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee? Try ‘scintillating’ and ‘chihuahua’ for starters.

Meet the best young spellers in Australia.

Victorians Theekshitha Karthik and Arielle Wong, and Evan Luc-Tran from NSW have been crowned the inaugural champs of the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee.

Arielle, 10, took the title in the Year 3-4 category, with 27/30 in a speedy 1 minute 21.5 seconds, while Theekshitha, 11, scored a quickfire 29/30 in 1 minute 12.7 seconds in the Year 5-6 group and Evan, 12, notched up 27/30 in 3 minutes 6.2 seconds in the Year 7-8 category.

Theekshitha, who is in Year 6 at Haileybury College’s Berwick campus, said she was so thrilled with her win “if I had a rocket I would definitely have blasted over the moon”.

She said speed and accuracy were her game plan, topped off by lots of practise.

“I was thinking it was a really good achievement to have come so far but I was thinking ‘what do I have to do to win?’,” she said.

“So I was trying my best and practising … because spelling is my passion.”

Despite nerves, Theekshitha powered through her 30 words, only tripping up on “pariah”, a word she’d never heard before.

Keen reader and speller Arielle, who is in Year 4 at Donvale Christian College, said she was very surprised with her victory but loved competing in the Spelling Bee.

“I liked that you got feedback on the words that you got right and wrong so that I can learn for next time,” she said.

Evan, a Year 8 student at The McDonald School in Sydney’s inner west, said he found the national final “reasonably hard” but was confident in the preparation he did with his mum, Grace.

“There are so many good spellers around Australia so I was a bit surprised that I won, but I’m very proud of myself,” he said.

“I did encounter a few tricky words. One of them was ‘burramys’. I had never heard of that before.”

For those not in the know, a burramys is a very rare mountain pigmy possum, found mainly on Mt Hotham in Victoria.

The three national champs spellers are off to Canberra to meet Prime Minister Scott Morrison as part of their prize, which also includes iPads, books and $1000 vouchers for their schools.

“Well done to all the students across the country who took up the challenge, and congratulations to all the winners,” Mr Morrison said.

“As some students learned, proper spelling is a skill that makes you a q-u-i-n-t-e-s-s-e-n-t-i-a-l winner of spelling competitions, but also helps set you up for life.

“Whether you’re a Prime Minister or a plumber, a teacher or a doctor, a fighter pilot or a scientist, spelling and reading are foundation skills you’re always going to need.”

The national champs were among almost 21,000 students from 490 schools around Australia who signed up for the Spelling Bee, which is run by Kids News and News Corp Australia.

News Corp’s community ambassador Penny Fowler said the event was a great way for children to improve their spelling while having fun.

“Fostering a love of learning in children is so important and this is at the heart of the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee,” she said.



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