There was decorum, anticipation, acuity and just a little alliteration yesterday as Illawarra students strived to be named the region's best speller.
Almost 100 students from 23 schools took to the stage at Figtree Public School to compete in one of the four Premier's Spelling Bee regional finals. Across the region more than 360 students from 94 schools will take part in finals this week.
Students in the senior finals cruised through the first few rounds, easily polishing off contemptible, egalitarian, idiosyncratic, insolvency, cumulative and desalination.
If the contestants were nervous they didn't show it, speaking in loud, clear voices as they announced each letter into the microphone with confidence.
A few stumbled on cockatiel, simulcast and contentious, but things got really tough in round six, with disparate, desiccated, panacea and extrapolate leading to eliminations.
Only two students made it to round seven, before Wollongong Public School's Bianca McAven won in round eight by correctly spelling anecdote, narrowly beating Stanwell Park Public School's James Korbel, who got stuck on centrifugal.
Bianca attributed her success to hours of practising words.
Earlier in the morning Wollongong Public School's Edward Bowling won the junior final, with Lachlan Neich from Fairy Meadow Demonstration School runner-up.
The winners go to the state final in Sydney in November.
Primary school NAPLAN scores up but not at high schools - Pg 25 of today's Mercury