Hutt Valley students take words seriously

Isaiah Mansell  with his grandparents Win and Wayne Mansell.
Abby Brown

Isaiah Mansell with his grandparents Win and Wayne Mansell.

Hutt Valley students must take words seriously as three of them have made the final of the New Zealand Spelling Bee.

Trentham's Isaiah Mansell hopes his friends will be inspired by watching him compete in the televised final.

"If I can do it, anyone can," he said.

St Oran's College student Abby Martin, from Trentham, was a finalist in the national spelling bee for the second time in ...
ABBY BROWN/ FAIRFAX NZ

St Oran's College student Abby Martin, from Trentham, was a finalist in the national spelling bee for the second time in two years.

The 14-year-old Upper Hutt College student had thought he was just an average speller but in a classroom test he correctly spelt 94 out of 100 words to qualify for the semi-finals which were held in Wellington last month.

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The top 200 Year 9 and Year 10 students from around the country advanced to regional semi finals after being graded in classroom tests, in which they had to spell 75 or more words correctly out of 100. This year two students spelt  99 out of 100 words correct.

Charlotte Coulson was in the New Zealand Spelling Bee national final.
Abby Brown

Charlotte Coulson was in the New Zealand Spelling Bee national final.

Isaiah said he spent up to two hours a day studying the supplied lists of 200 words, which included Latin, Greek, Yiddish and Old English words, for the finals.

He felt his concentration in his basketball final was affected as the spelling bee national final was the next day but his team still won 43-26.

The Year 9 student said he had not worried about any specific words "as this makes me forget them even more. I instead just hoped that they were words that were spelt how they are pronounced".

Joining him in the final was another Trentham resident, Abby Martin.

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From the age of five she was tested by her mum as they drove to school, the 14-year-old said.

It was the second year in a row the St Oran's College student had made the finals.

After scoring 83 out of 100 in a classroom test, prepping for the various finals was a family affair with her dad testing her on 20 to 30 of the 200 words on the supplied list every morning while he made her lunch.

The Year 10 student also researched the most commonly misspelt words and used Google to understand how Russian and French words on the list were pronounced.

The third student, Charlotte Coulson from Waterloo, said being involved in the bee gave her a better appreciation for english.

"I feel like it helps you understand your own language better, even if what you are doing is studying other languages," the Hutt Valley High School student said.

The Year 9 student spelled 86 words right in her class test. The 14-year-old said before the finals she focused more on the words she sometimes messed up, such as kaitiakitanga, the Maori word for guardianship.

The national final was filmed in Auckland on August 25 and 26. You'll have to watch Spellbound, which is coming soon to TV One, to find out which of the 36 finalists won the New Zealand Spelling Bee and the $5000 prize.

 - Stuff

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