NEARLY 100 people held their breath yesterday as Canobolas Public School student Luka Mihalich spelt out the word cartilage.
If he got the word right and his competitors got their words wrong, he would be known as the best public school speller from Lithgow to Orange.
His face lit up when he heard the word and almost without hesitation he rattled off the nine letters and hurried back to his chair.
The Premier’s Spelling Bee years 5 and 6 regional final came down to a race in three between Luka and previous champions Calare Public School student James Buckingham and Cooerwull Public School student Grace Adams.
James stroked his non-existent beard when he heard his words but faulted on hydrangea.
Grace confidently spelt out the word amalgamate but struck out when it came to pyrotechnic.
Luka’s hands flew to his face when he realised he would be heading to Sydney in November to compete in the state finals.
“I’m really excited, “ he said.
“I like spelling because it isn’t like other subjects where yo have to be quiet .. with spelling you can talk and stuff.”
Luka got to take a load off and relax while the other two entered into a fierce one-on-one battle for second place.
It was half an hour of breath holding, sighs of relief and nail chewing as James faltered on dowager and Grace had problems with ascent.
James made a stunning comeback with the word knickerbocker but it was not enough to keep Grace off his heels.
James was given a homonym and it was all over after seven rounds of to and fro.
He was asked to spell sleight, as in sleight of hand, and spelt it slight.
The regional finals were held at Glenroi Heights Public School with 40 students from across the area.
Schools were allowed two students each for the junior and senior section.
Principal Colleen Alchin said it was wonderful to see children engaged in spelling.
She said many of them had downloaded the spelling competition app on their mobile phones and had been practising for months.
“They made it into a bit of a game and became quite competitive,” she said.
Luka however did things the old-fashioned way.
“Me and my friend Riley just tested each other with our work lists and some of the words we did were spontaneous.”
Examples of some of the words years 5 and 6 children were tested with: