Hout Bay High pupils excel in spelling bee

From left, Hout Bay High School teachers JanLen van Wyk and Amanda Swart with their star pupils, Lezhan Bailey and Joel Adonis. On the right is the Western Cape Education Departments subject advisor for Metro Central, Audia Stanley.

Two Hout Bay High School pupils have excelled at this year’s Sanlam WOW (Woorde Open Werelde) Spelfees.

Grade 9 pupil Lezhan Bailey, 15, and Grade 10 pupil Joel Adonis, 16, both won gold medals in the competition’s Metro Central district, which also included participants from Groenvlei, Modderdam, Cannons Creek and Heideveld high schools.

The district round was held at Heideveld Seconday School. It was Hout Bay High’s first time in the competition, and the performances of the two pupils have delighted their Afrikaans teachers, Amanda Swart and Jan-Len van Wyk.

The competition involved the pupils learning the spelling and meanings of 800 words, with each round requiring participants to correctly spell 30 words.

Joel excelled in the Grade 10 category making it all the way through to round 16 – some 10 rounds more than the second-placed participant.

“Everyone said Lezhan also was amazing in her round. She is very strong academically,” Ms Swart said.

Joel only started at Hout Bay High at the beginning of this term, having arrived from Jan van Riebeeck High School. “He has a very positive attitude. The kids really prepared for this competition from the beginning,” Ms Swart said.

As a result of their strong performances, the teenagers represented their school at the WOW Spelfees provincial round at Stellenbosch on Saturday September 9.

While they did not make it through the national round, they both placed in the top 10 of their categories.

“I feel very proud, very good about my gold medal,” Joel said.

“I was very surprised at my result. Before the competition I was very nervous.

“My mom said she knew I was going to win the spelling competition, and she’s very proud.”

He said he had a passion for life sciences, and would one day like to pursue a career in the medical field. He also paid tribute to Ms Swart, calling her a very “loving and caring” teacher.

Lezhan said she became increasingly confident as the spelling competition went on.

“I knew I was going to win.

“The Afrikaans spelling bee is good because it improves our Afrikaans vocabulary,” she said.

Mr Van Wyk hoped the success of the two pupils would inspire others at the school to enter the competition next year.

“It was an awesome experience. I also think the competition will help pupils to improve their marks.

“I am now giving my Grade 8 and 9 pupils some words from the competition, and I can already see they are improving,” he said.

“I have been testing the children on a Friday, and they’re very excited about it.

“They now ask me on a Thursday whether we will be having a test on the Friday.”

Ms Swart said she was thrilled that the teenagers had performed so well at such a prestigious Afrikaans competition.

“The schools in our district are not traditional Afrikaans schools, and teaching Afrikaans schools, and teaching Afrikaans when the learners do not use academic Afrikaans at home can be a bit difficult.

“So I have a lot of respect for the marks the kids scored in this competition.