ONE of the young spellers in the spotlight at the Arts Council on Friday.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
ONE of the young spellers in the spotlight at the Arts Council on Friday.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

KARACHI: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That’s how it was for the national finalists of the 15th Dawn in Education Spelling Bee competition at the Arts Council of Pakistan here on Friday.

The steps where various school teams used to sit, whispering among themselves as they discussed the spelling of the words given to them were all gone. In their place were tall stools on which the best of the best, the cream of spellers in the country were seated competing individually in the country’s biggest inter-school spelling competition.

This year, there were 8,100 participants, who were gradually eliminated in the search for the spell masters in Pakistan in different age categories.

There were two main rounds in the finals.

The first round ‘Choose your category’ had four main categories to choose from such as ‘Dawn’, ‘Animal world’, ‘Silent letters’ and ‘Geography’. There were words in each category. ‘Dawn’ had words picked from the newspaper, ‘Animal world’ had the names of various species from the animal kingdom, ‘Geography’ had plenty of names of countries, cities, rivers, etc. One was not allowed to choose a category more than two times.

Around 8,100 participated in this year’s competition in different age categories

Following the first round, there would be elimination rounds called ‘To be or not to be’, which were played between students who had tied.

The second round was the ‘Rapid bee’, which had negative marking. There was a minus two for each word spelt incorrectly. One could also pass twice but not more than that.

The judges kept reminding the contestants not to be hasty when spelling out words during the ‘Rapid bee’ round. Yes, they would get more points for spelling out more words but in their haste they were eating the words and making it difficult for the judges to decipher what they were saying. Everything is recorded at the Spelling Bee and there were plenty of replays due to the children’s at times unclear pronunciation.

Championship results

Age group: 15 to 17 National champion: Nail Khan — Roots IVY International School, Lahore.

1st runner-up: Aamna Ahmed — Aga Khan Higher Secondary School, Karachi.

2nd runner-up: Eemaan Fatimah Humayun — Roots School System, Islamabad.

Age group: 12 to 14

National champion: Ozair Ahmed — EMS High School, Islamabad.

1st runner-up: Muhammad Taquee — EMS High School, Islamabad.

2nd runner-up: Mominn Nabeel Nawaz — Aitchison College, Lahore.

Age group: 9 to 11

National champion: Hashim Talal Malik — Roots Millennium Schools Abbottabad.

1st runner-up: Nael Ahmad Sheikh — Aitchison College, Lahore.

2nd runner-up: Umar Asif — Garrison Academy for Boys, Lahore.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2019