Where there's a Will … student puts a spell on opposition
The junior winner ... Will Stamp, 9, from Avalon. Photo: Peter Rae
HE has no clue what it means, but he knows how to spell it. B-U-R-E-A-U-C-R-A-T-I-C. Bureaucratic.
With the adjective for an inflexible or insensitive administrator, nine-year-old Will Stamp secured the title of the state's best junior speller.
"I knew how to spell bureau from a few books," the Avalon Public School student said.
Deep in thought … contestants in the Premier's Spelling Bee finals at the ABC Studios in Ultimo. Photo: Peter Rae
Will outlasted 41 other junior finalists in the Premier's Spelling Bee at Ultimo on Wednesday. Along with 42 seniors, they were the best of more than 120,000 students who entered the contest across the state.
Except for the word uninspiring, which stumped him momentarily, the precocious youngster survived the 13 rounds with unwavering confidence. He had no trouble spelling deceit, brevity, gratuity, pharmaceutical, prognosis, and memorandum.
For more than two hours, the students shuffled back and forth to the lone microphone.
Some answers lingered through long pauses. Others were boomed with confidence.
The seats emptied with each round as students fell short on words like surfeit, magnanimous, affidavit, milliner and buccaneer. The annual tournament, launched in 2004 with just 800 entrants in its inaugural year, is now the biggest spelling bee in the country.
Ten-year-old Stuart Rich from St Ives North Public School won the senior competition after correctly spelling the winning word acquiesce.
Niamh Brazil, the winner of last year's junior event, from Wilkins Public School in Marrickville, lost after failing to spell correctly rhododendron.
The Premier, Barry O'Farrell, watched from the front row and addressed the students before the award presentation. "Life and learning is about having a go … it's about putting your hand up and trying new things," he said.
To win the final junior round, Will beat Sabina Patawaran, from Meadowbank Public School, and Keiren Pirabhahar, from Murray Farm Public School, who bowed out with sebaceous and euphonium.
For first place, Will Stamp was awarded a dictionary - a tool which is unlikely to be of much use in the careers he hopes to pursue.
"I want to be a palaeontologist. That would be most likely," he said. "Or a rugby player."