Friday, April 19, 2013

The big spell zonal

Spelling Bee Zonal rounds
A horde’s worth of about 1400 students has now been compressed into that of about a hundred plus. In addition to the vast change of participants to cater for, the dynamics, agenda and requirements has also been remoulded. Fortunately, the time span we were given was about a month, a less taxing and less burdening time constraint compared to the rushed 2 weeks we were given for  the preliminary rounds.
Not too long ago, the Diploma of Business Informatics (DBI) students joined us, on 4th march. Not only a steady form of manpower for us to repurpose, they also turned out to be valued company. We learn from them just as much as they have learnt from us too. Shuffled and merged, the class seemed ever noisier, but ever more fun too. Social circles enlarged and conversing outlets opened up as we melded in with our new surroundings.
Essentially, the EMRS class, now compromising of about 25 people had to be split up into 4 zones; North, East, South and West, with about 6 per zone. Not only did we need to prepare for a new set of stickers, participant bibs, with self-formed designs, and other miscellaneous components, we had to prepare and jot out 4 different venues’ floor plans and deployment. Suffice to say, we were glad that we had much less students to accommodate for, but in turn, had to cater for the manpower branching.
East-side Zonals
With our new donned level of adaptability and acute precision from the preliminary rounds, we tailored a new system and structure, stitching up the loose ends here and there, in pursuit of a more impeccable performance for the Zonal competitions.
With the assumption that the structure of various items, like presentations and registration lists, had to be similar for all 4 zones, we had to closely check against the other ‘zone teams’ to ensure that we are all on the right track together. A single mistake or difference gone unnoticed and discovered too late would not confuse, but it would also cause inefficiency. We guess you can say it was important to uphold clarity while communicating well. In a sense, we had to be a little more perfectionistic.

As for the event itself, we proceeded to our own destination; namely, Tampines’ Library.

Overall, everything panned out well, the registration bit was a breeze, with all attendances accounted for, and all bibs placed quickly and properly. The kids enjoyed their freebies and Koko Krunch while their parents engaged in a little chit-chat. Surprisingly, the participants seemed quite calm and collected, given the impending competition.
Onto the allocated library hall where the event took place, audience members and participants alike began to fill up the seats. Eager and beginning to get anxious, they were warmly greeted and slightly entertained by the emcee. Soon thereafter, students got up, lined up and proceeded onwards. The event had commenced in unison with the other zones.
Throughout the competition, we noticed a couple that had been constantly mouthing letters of listed spelling words for one contestant in particular. After reporting, the student was eliminated, with the couple sent to the back of the hall.

One by one, students were gradually eliminated, descending back to their seats in heart-shattering tears or overly-bashful smiles until the last 2 students remained, competing for the east-zonal spelling title. After a short string of wrongly spelt words, a St Hilda’s student emerged the victor, assuring him a spot in the Finals for the Spelling Bee.

More focused to our duties in the hall, we believe that we carried them out well, as all the needs of students, parents, supporters, and judges were accommodated for.
Overall, everything went impeccably. Winning participants reigned victorious while those who lost retreated to their parents in some humiliation and disappointment. On task with fluent execution, there was no remarkable issue reported, which implied meant that the team had worked well and effectively together.
North-side Zonals
Students began to flow in rapidly even before 8:30am, our designated registration time. Nervous and queued up, we synced with each other and registered the participants, who all turned up for the occasion, quickly and on time before their briefing.

Some of the parents wanted to pin the bibs on their own children out of a little overprotectiveness, complaining that the pins were rather small and difficult to use. In any case, this sped up our registration process, regardless.

With the exception of one missing student, participants were embraced by the unusual warmth of the library, prepped to listen in to their briefing. In addition to minor problems encountered, one of the participant’s bib was torn by its safety pin holes with that safety pin missing. Easily rectified, we fixed the bib up and sent all the students to get ready for the start of the event.

Emcees nullified the nervousness of participants and the audience by entertaining them with comically-induced sarcasm and jokes. For example, the emcee wanted to entertain everyone by singing a song, only to be sadly rejected by one of the participants who confidently said “No, thanks”.

With that, and the introduction of the officials by the front row, the event began promptly. Words continuously became larger and more confusing, what’s even more surprising is that the contestants successfully spelt them with ease.

Throughout the event, microphone adjusters, ushers and the time keeper did their jobs flawlessly, causing no delay and proving ourselves competent.

Anti-climactic as it is, the champion was quickly decided upon as the other two contestants had spelt their words wrong. What made it even more anti-climactic was that the second and third place took forever to derive.

Through it all, we think that we did a good job and the event went well with very few problems.

West-side Zonals
With our venue decked up with the necessary preparations placed the day before, coupled with our months’ worth of preparation for the occasion, we were ready and eager to get it through and over with.
With clear knowledge of our tasks

and time spans, we took a good one and a half hour to wrap up the registration, ending at about 9am. As such everyone was punctual and we had accomplished everything we needed to in our designated time span, causing no delay.

As the entrance to building and the location of the event, the EDUtorium, were relatively far apart, an usher was placed to ascertain the direction of supporters and students to the venue.
Eager and jumpy, the students quickly went to their seats, with their parents trailing and sitting behind them. Interviewers and media leered closely to the competition throughout to get the scoop they needed.
As the south zone took the longest to get ready, given the quantity of their students, everyone had to wait a short moment patiently. After the somewhat quiet wait, the students were brought up to the stage in an orderly manner.
Starting at 10am sharp, words were issued and spelt correctly, mostly that is. With the ticks of the clocks and minutes that pass by, students drained back to their seats in a flood of unhappy emotions. The stage became increasingly vacant as did the pressure of the remaining contestants.
2 hours had passed and it had finally come down to 2 students. Knowing it was going to end soon, the students had plastered smiles on their faces, summoning all the knowledge they had. In the end, a Unity primary school kid won and beaming with pride he accepted his triumph and secured his position in the final rounds.
Roles were executed well and overall, it was a good and memorable experience spent with both my team-mates and supervisor.
South-side Zonals
Equipped with the skills that we’ve picked up from all the previous events that we’ve observed and partaken, we planned an executed the zonal round in the south side with a banked readiness and steadiness.
Taking place in our own school, Nanyang Polytechnic, TFA, we’ve had to hand prepare the venue from scratch, an ironic ‘home advantage’.
Naturally, among the 4 zones, we took the longest to register and usher as we had the most amount of students to cater for, 44 students. Nevertheless, the process was swift and the venue became swarmed with people.

The manpower was vigilant just as the students were confident; rounds by rounds were cleared, with not a single person eliminated till the later rounds. Imaginably, one would think that it would have taken forever to finish this round of the spelling bee. Honestly, it did, it ended 2:30pm from 10am.

As the students slowly got eliminated, emphasis on the ‘slowly’, it finally came down to 4 finalists, competing for the first and third place. Tension built up and burst into applause as the winner emerged from Catholic High Primary.
All in all, it was a good event. Despite its lengthiness, it was fun and rather worthwhile. The roles were relatively easy and was simple to plan and handle.
Overall, on all 4 sides, everything went impeccably. Winning participants reigned victorious while those who lost retreated to their parents in some humiliation and disappointment. On task with fluent execution, there were no issue reported in any of the 4 segments, which assumedly meant that the teams have worked well and effectively together.
It’s been about one and a half months already, and the DBI students have come to the end of their stay with us. Though their stay was but two-thirds of ours (6 weeks), you can say that it’s good that they came along when they did. We definitely needed the help. The fun, cheers and laughter were but valued perks. In such a short time, we’ve learnt to collect ourselves and unravel. Not too long ago, this pool of noisy EMRS companions was, believe it or not, silent, docile and awkward classmates at the start. Whisking past the short-term reminiscing, everything on this end seems pretty awesome; the people, the tasks, the event results, and of course, our lessons and companionships. One final event waits on the horizon, finals. Till then, we remain gratified and delighted.