Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The National Spelling Championship Preliminary Round 2013

To say that the National Spelling Championship Preliminary Rounds 2013 was jam-packed and fascinating would be a severe understatement. Crowds of students, teachers and parents gradually swallowed the grounds of Fairmont ballroom’s interior and exterior. Mascots paraded around established booths, nearly immediately catching the keen eyes of the primary school students who would otherwise think that the waiting area would be drab, dense and dull or maybe even stressful and unnerving without them.

As the ballroom doors opened, participants flourished sporadically through the door and to their seats like a flush of water. Chilly, humongous and anxiety-inducing, the ballroom, decked with milo packets and worksheets welcomed the students to the very first round of the Spelling Bee, along with the MOE representative Mrs Soo of course.

Intensified and mind-tingling, the silence of the ballroom ensued as the first word began. Surveying the room, you could see many types of faces; scared, confident, reluctant or simply brutally confused. Nevertheless, the event went by smoothly, children began to be dismissed, and interviews started almost immediately thereafter. Students retreated to the embrace of their parents, teachers and guardians, in fear and glory as the event concluded.

Atmosphere aside, the team has learnt of the values of planning, executing and performing; a skill that will undoubtedly prove most useful when we are aloft into our own jobs and lifestyles in the future.

Supposedly, some of the more highlighted components we have learnt on planning were that certain variables, like supporting and initial information and time constraints, can change almost instantly, distorting the structure, position and the procedure execution of our plans. Back-up plans, universal processes, measures to mitigate risks through checks and audits and the ability to morph and mould a new form of plan performance were our best friends.

It’s safe to say that the experience from planning the preliminary rounds has challenged and propelled our ability to adapt to new, fresh situations into in an ever-changing environment. One example, is the drastic increase to the number of students we had to accommodate, which increased by more than 100, changing our zone allocation, registration list and floor plans. Even then the list continued to change, requiring us to make amendments on the spot, as the time grew short and the event was on the horizon.

Teamwork-wise, we can strongly vouch for the fact that we have worked extremely well together for the Spelling Bee Preliminary Rounds, being both effective in our doings and efficient in our resource management. There were absolutely no heated arguments, mainly because we took votes to certain key points, like the structure of the registration list and sticker allocation process. We shared our thoughts, implying the possible scenarios, boons and banes; and in the end, share a single consensus and decision, with a little bit of help and direction by our teachers and supervisors too, of course. After all, a well-oiled machine gives good results, right?

Above everything, the event was a success. Taking note of the more prominent problems faced last year, mainly the registration bit, we had the necessary knowledge and means to find and tailor our own structure and procedure. Despite the tight quantity on manpower, especially male manpower, we have been able to ascertain majority of the problems and scenarios we have assumed through planning. But of course, nothing is perfect; a few components in our process, such as asking for EZ-link cards for registration and the lack of ushering strength have proven as challenges. Nevertheless, it tested our wits and has possibly enhanced our spontaneous solution thinking. Despite the bits and bobs strewn about as a result of our mistakes, the event was planned competently and proficiently. I’m sure we can all recall when an SPH representative told us at the end of the event that ‘the results and performance this year was 200% better than last year’, which naturally made the pressures and stress of planning all the more worthwhile.

Though only 2 weeks have passed, and only 1 event was done, we can confidently say that the next 2 rounds of the Spelling Bee will be much more viable for us to do, given the skills and mistakes we have picked up from doing the first. Above that, these skills, and memories will carry on with us, even when we leave and conclude our stopover at EMRS. Looking forward to the next few weeks we have together. Contented, hopeful and satisfied.