Words including “incandescent”, “civilisations”, “unsuccessfully” and “veterinarian” may challenge even the keenest speller, but they didn’t defeat Beau Mounter in the International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS) Spelling Bee assessment.
He has been named the best in his year group due to his abilities. The 10-year-old competed and obtained the highest score of any Year 6 pupil in the Pacific.
It is not the first time Beau has received an ICAS medal - he was already named the best in his year group when he was in Year 3 at the age of seven.
Mum Kate said his skill for spelling comes naturally but has also been encouraged by Kerikeri Primary School, which has a “strong focus” on structured literacy.
Students participated in a spelling programme during the first 2020 lockdown and would have to answer questions which got progressively harder, but Beau wasn’t phased. In fact, he was spelling “at the level of a 15-year-old”.
His natural talent for spelling may just run in the blood. His great-grandfather was Robert Dunn, a past editor of the Northern Advocate who retired in 1960.
Kate described Beau as a creative, empathetic and confident boy who has been surrounded by books from an early age.
“There’s always books around,” she explained.
A weekly visit to the library in their own time paired with a weekly visit by Kerikeri Primary School has encouraged Beau’s affinity for spelling.
Kate joked her middle child son loves “being good at something”.
He recently did a speech in school about being the middle child - garnering him third place in an inter-school speech competition.
Beau doesn’t just have a way with words either - his mind works hard, but so do his hands.
A recent visit to the Wētā Workshop Unleashed interactive exhibition at SkyCity Auckland has inspired him to continue with his passion for clay modelling, something that may well turn into a career. He also has his eyes on becoming a marine biologist.
ICAS tests are internationally recognised academic competitions which challenge students in a range of subjects and are carried out across 20 countries.
Brodie Stone is the education and general news reporter at the Advocate. Brodie has spent most of her life in Whangārei and is passionate about delving into issues that matter to Northlanders and beyond.