SINGAPORE - Around 1,800 pupils islandwide gathered at Suntec Singapore on Saturday (March 26) morning to take part in the first round of the RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship.
A few turned up as early as 6.45am, ahead of the 8am registration time, anxious to familiarise themselves with the venue.
When they streamed into the fourth level hall for the 50-word pen and paper round, some pupils were wide-eyed at the scale of the competition - the biggest in the event's five-year history.
In subsequent rounds, shortlisted participants have to spell out words aloud.
After Saturday's round, only the top 20 or so spellers in each zone - north, south, east and west - will proceed to the next round on April 16. Spellers will be nationally ranked with the top 20 or so going on to the finals on April 30 to vie for the championship trophy and the top $5,000 prize.
The Big Spell is organised by The Straits Times and RHB Banking Group, with the Ministry of Education as partner. It is supported by the National Library Board and Nanyang Polytechnic, with venue partners Singapore Zoo and Suntec Singapore.
For more information: www.straitstimes.com/bigspell