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Jordan Foo from Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) is national Champion Speller

Singapore, 28 April 2012 - Jordan Foo Bao Luo, 12, a primary six pupil of Anglo-Chinese School (Primary), beat 28 others to become the Champion Speller in the final showdown of the inaugural RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship which took place earlier today.

He spelled his way to the top spot at the Collyer Ballroom at Raffles City Convention Centre after spelling correctly the word "jodhpurs” in the eighth round, knocking out his face-off opponent, Shaughn Chan Hsu Young, 11, also from Anglo-Chinese School (Primary), who was named the first runner-up.

The second runner-up was Joshua Leow Yan Rong, 11, from Tao Nan School.

For his hard-fought victory, Jordan took home $5,000 and a Challenge Trophy for his school, while the other two top spellers won $3,000 and $1,000 respectively. All three winners received their prizes from Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Madam Halimah Yacob.

The top winners in the four zonal rounds each received $500 cash and $200 worth of book vouchers at the prize presentation today. All finalists were each given a medal too.

In the most competitive round of the spelling quest on Saturday lasting more than an hour, the 29 finalists, who had battled through two earlier exciting rounds - the zonals on April 14 and the preliminaries on March 10 - slugged it out on stage, facing a judging panel of media representatives and Ministry of Education officials, and a convention hall packed with their fellow student supporters, teachers, principals and parents.

Each of them took turns to spell out the words read out by a pronouncer. Determined to fight on to the bitter end, the finalists battled through 90 words. As the rounds progressed with increasing difficulty, they were eliminated one by one after they were tripped up by words such as apocalyptic and gesundheit.

The decisive play-off narrowed down to between Jordan and Shaughn. And then there was only one standing on the stage. Jordan Foo was declared the champion, to rapturous applause from the audience.

Speaking just before the final showdown began, Madam Halimah commended the contestants for taking spelling seriously, and for that, she said they deserved top honours.

"They represent a cross-section of this country’s primary schools, and have pulled through many weeks of competition. In addition to their considerable skill, they have also demonstrated bravery and good sportsmanship by playing a good game. That alone is an achievement, never mind the results," said Madam Halimah.

"In preparing for the finals, you have accomplished that and more. You have shown true grit. Indeed, competitive spelling is a battleground worthy of any star athlete, and over the weeks, you have impressed everyone watching with your determination. To stand in front of a critical audience and judges, then articulate a series of often confusing letters in the correct order, that is no mean feat. It takes nerves. Your devotion to excellence is something even adults can learn from."

Earlier, in his opening address, Mr Warren Fernandez, Editor of The Straits Times, said spelling is not just about memorising words, and he urged students to read widely, starting with the daily newspapers, to improve their knowledge of current affairs and discover the world and themselves.

"Reading is a great way of ensuring that you are exposed to correct spelling and grammar. You need to read a lot and read widely. If you can make reading a habit, or better yet, if you grow to love and enjoy reading, you will have a big head start in life," he said.

"Reading opens up your mind. It allows you to let your imagination wander far and wide, and develops your creativity. These are all increasingly valuable assets in today’s world, where getting good grades alone will no longer be enough."

Chairman of RHB Banking Group, Tan Sri Azlan Zainol, who flew in from Kuala Lumpur with several top management executives to catch the finals, said of the spelling quest: “It is not just about testing their spelling skills but also about building a new generation of thinkers with Emotional Intelligence which is about self-confidence, self-management, motivation and social skills. During the course of this competition, these young people are encouraged to overcome spelling challenges with these qualities in mind.”

Dr Tan Bee Geok, the Ministry of Education's deputy director for Gifted Education, said she hoped an annual competition such as this one would raise the standard of spelling and, hopefully, interest in acquiring a rich vocabulary, among primary pupils.

"We hope that they (the pupils) have also developed a healthy spirit of sportsmanship in the process, learning to both win and lose graciously. Besides, at this level, they are all winners in our eyes. By collaborating with our corporate partners, we have access to resources that have enabled more pupils to be given the chance to participate and to benefit from the experience,” she said.

The contest, which was open to primary 4, 5 and 6 pupils, drew a record number of 1,200 students from 130 schools in the preliminary round - nearly double that of last year's, which was organised by the Ministry of Education. The spelling championship was supported by the National Library Board and the Speak Good English Movement.


For more information, please contact:

Andrea Thum (Ms)
Assistant Manager
Editorial Projects Unit
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 1016
Email: andreat@sph.com.sg

Khalid Khamis (Mr)
Assistant Manager
Editorial Projects Unit
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 5669
Email: khalidk@sph.com.sg

Gary Yeo (Mr)
Assistant Manager
Corporate Communications
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 1225

 Email: garyyeo@sph.com.sg


About The Straits Times

The Straits Times, the English flagship daily of SPH, has been serving readers for more than a century. Launched on July 15, 1845, its comprehensive coverage of world news, East Asian news, Southeast Asian news, home news, sports news, financial news and lifestyle updates makes The Straits Times the most-read newspaper in Singapore.

The Straits Times also has an online presence at www.straitstimes.com. The site features top stories, blogs and an online forum threads. Also under The Straits Times' umbrella are citizen journalism site Stomp and online television service RazorTV.

For more information, visit www.straitstimes.com.


About RHB Bank Singapore
 
Established in 1961, RHB Bank Singapore is a full-licensed bank with a network of 7 branches situated in various locations. It also operates 15 Bureau de Change outlets in Singapore Changi Airport. The Bank provides a comprehensive range of financial products and services to consumer, corporate and commercial clients, ranging from various types of deposits and loans, treasury to investment banking.
 
RHB Bank Singapore is the first full bank to be conferred the prestigious S-Class (Service Class) award by SPRING Singapore as well as the first and only bank in Singapore and Malaysia to be awarded the prestigious “Best Customer Experience Management of the Year Award” in banking service by APCSC Hong Kong and most recently, awarded the SQC (Singapore Quality Class) by SPRING Singapore in June 2010.
 
For more information on RHB Bank Singapore please log on to www.rhbbank.com.sg.


About Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

Main board-listed Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH) is Southeast Asia's leading media organisation, engaging minds and enriching lives across multiple languages and platforms. It publishes 18 newspaper titles in four languages and over 100 magazine titles in Singapore and the region. On an average day, – 2.92 million individuals or 74 percent of people above 15 years old, read one of SPH’s news publications. SPH’s internet editions of its major newspapers enjoy over 330 million page views with 18 million unique visitors each month. Other new media initiatives include AsiaOne, omy.sg, ST701, Stomp and The Straits Times RazorTV. SPH has also ventured into book publishing, broadcasting, out-of-home advertising and properties.