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River buzzing after Premier’s Spelling Bee win

Words such as chihuahua and proscenium weren’t enough to trip up River Robinson in the senior final of the 2019 Premier’s Spelling Bee.

Spelling bee winner River Robinson

Fourth time's the charm: Yamba Public School student River Robinson is the 2019 Premier’s Spelling Bee senior champion.

It took every spelling trick and tool that River Robinson knows, but this afternoon he proved practice makes perfect at the Premier’s Spelling Bee.

The Year 6 student from Yamba Public School won with the word proscenium, which means ‘the front part of the stage, especially the area in front of the curtain', according to the Macquarie Dictionary.

“My strategy for the unseen words was to go through all the combinations of how to spell the sounds, and I just thought in my head what looked right,” River said.

This year was his fourth attempt at the state final, and he said he was “so grateful” for the support of his parents, teachers and school in the lead up to the event.

In the junior final, Hornsby South Public School’s Hannah Moore annihilated the competition, correctly spelling the word vigilante to beat out runner-up Raksha Tekuru from Victoria Avenue Public School, Concord West.

Hannah said the win felt exhilarating – another of her words in the final.

“I’m very surprised, because there’s a lot of talented people here,” Hannah said.

Earlier in the day Premier Gladys Berejiklian stopped by to watch the competition.

She wished the competitors well, highlighting the role of the Premier’s Spelling Bee.

“The Spelling Bee is a fantastic way to not only support children to become better spellers and extend their vocabulary, but also to encourage them out of their comfort zones and introduce them to other keen spellers from across the State,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell, who also attended the event, said she was proud of the scale of the Premier’s Spelling Bee.

“This year we have seen an unprecedented participation of almost 170,000 students from 1,006 public schools across the State, which is just fantastic,” Ms Mitchell said.

Local representation “big boon” for small school

While every school represented in the final had cause to be proud of their students, the community at Warren Central School had more reason than any.

“The majority of our community is feeling the impacts of the drought,” said Warren Central School Principal Duncan Lovelock.

“A lot of local people have lost their jobs either directly or indirectly – even if they’re not in agriculture, when the money isn’t flowing they feel it.”

“In times like this every good news story matters to us,” he said.

Warren is a small town in central-west NSW, 120 kilometres north-west of Dubbo, with competitor Hayley Hall travelling 500 kilometres to compete at the junior state final.

Before the final, Mr Lovelock predicted that Year 4 student Hayley would put in a strong effort in what he saw as a “David and Goliath battle”.

“To have a student from our isolated, small, rural school, going up against bigger schools from the city, it’s been a tremendous boon for our community to get behind Hayley.”

The 2019 Premier’s Spelling Bee is supported by Modern Teaching Aids, ABC Radio Sydney and Macquarie Dictionary.

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