This took place in April.
The RHB-Straits Times National Spelling Championship 2016.
In my boys' school, the P4 to P6 would be invited to sit through a selection test in school every year. The kids have to spell 20 words and out of the over 800 pupils, only a handful will be picked to represent the school in the first round of the spelling competition.
I understand that usually only 2 or 3 in Primary 4 and 5 would be picked and the remaining top spellers would be from Primary 6 classes. And most of these seniors will be from the same class - the only top class. The school selection is purely based on merits, so it is all very fair.
While I know that my eldest has a gigantic vocabulary and has never had problems spelling big words, I had never paid any attention to this competition in the past. Being in an academically competitive school means that there is stiff competition amongst peers for every opportunity to represent school. So it was a pleasant surprise when he came home one afternoon to inform me nonchalantly that he was one of the 15 selected, along with another 8 from his class.
He went to the First Round and competed against 1800 students from all over Singapore.
With such fierce competition, and this being his first time, we did not expect more especially after we learnt from fellow parents that 2 of his classmates are competing for their third consecutive year. These must be the previous top spellers of the cohort. Experience does matter a lot for such events since winning counts on one's ability to remain calm in addition to his ability to spell.
But he conquered the First Round, as one of the 119 Spelling Warriors! And the only 4 left from his school to make it to the second round - the Zonal Round.
The second round was much harder as they had to spell in front of an audience. Unlike in the paper and pencil round where pupils can correct their spelled words, in this second round where they spelled into the microphone, they were eliminated the moment they spelled one word wrongly.
Unfortunately he fumbled and his journey ended here. It was a word that we knew he could spell, but he just did not manage to that day. Perhaps the nerves got the better of him that moment he was the focus of everyone's attention. Still, we were extremely proud and pleased that he gained some experience. The results did not matter much really, since there could only be one eventual winner and he did make it all the way to Zonal round which was still quite a feat for a first-timer.
We are already grateful for the many lessons he could learn from this valuable experience. His best friend, who was competing for the third consecutive year, did eventually make it to the Final round and emerged #7 nationally this time. So there was still plenty for us all to cheer for.