As good as his word: Thomas has no trouble spelling success at competition

SPELLBOUND: Catherine McAuley Catholic Primary School principal Michael Croke takes Alan Parayil, champion speller Thomas Dews (with his trophy) and Lucy Stewart through their paces. Photo: STEVE GOSCH                                                                                                                  0602cathspell4

SPELLBOUND: Catherine McAuley Catholic Primary School principal Michael Croke takes Alan Parayil, champion speller Thomas Dews (with his trophy) and Lucy Stewart through their paces. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0602cathspell4

THEY are words that would send many reaching for the nearest dictionary or thesaurus, but for students of Catherine McAuley Catholic Primary School difficult words just rolled off the tongue at the Bathurst diocese primary schools’ spelling bee in Wellington.

One student in particular, Thomas Dews, 11, blitzed his fellow devotees of the written word and was declared the champion speller of 34 Catholic primary schools located within the diocese.

According to Catherine McAuley  principal Michael Croke, reading to children from an early age and encouraging them to love the written word is the key to good literacy skills.

“Of course for some children spelling is innate but reading plays a key role,” he said.

For champion Year 6 speller Thomas, who is reading Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter books, a few nerves early in the competition soon settled down.

“We were given a list of words a few weeks before the competition, but then I lost the list,” he said.

He said he remembered what he had to do and stuck to his task as he stepped forward.

“I was told to look straight in the eyes of the person asking me the word,” he said.

“But as soon as I heard a few of them, it just came to me.”

Spelling words like isobar, edifice and brontosaurus correctly, he pushed his way through the tough competition of talented spellers to win a medal and a trophy.

For Year 4 student, Lucy Stewart, who was runner-up in her section, the words seemed equally as difficult.

After breezing through words such as tremulous and plankton, the nine-year-old was just edged out for the trophy.

“I got out on the word ulcer,” she said.

Fellow student Alan Parayil, 8, who also took part in the spelling bee, said he enjoyed the thrill of the competition.

“I was a bit nervous just to start,” he said, flying through intrigue as his first word to spell.

Thomas’s grandmother Ann Kelly, who is a teacher at the school, said she was proud of her grandson.

“His dad Adrian was a prolific reader - and from the time Thomas was tiny he always had a book in his hand,” Mrs Kelly said.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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