Pang Zheng Bin with the first prize in the secondary school category yesterday.ARAU: It was a triple celebration for SMK Derma when three of its eight spellers landed in the top five spots at the secondary school category of the Perlis RHB-New Straits Times Spell-It-Right (SIR) Challenge. Pang Zheng Bin, 15, emerged as the champion while his schoolmates, Amir Aiman Abu Bakar, 16, and Wan Nur Solehah Wan Abdullah Zubir, 17, won third and fourth places, respectively.
Pang said he was happy to make his school proud.
"Our principal Norlia Mohd Zin's biggest wish is to see her students win the contest," said Pang at the state challenge held at Dewan UiTM Arau yesterday.
Besides the RM3,000 prize and plaque, Pang will represent the state at the national challenge in Kuala Lumpur on July 16.
This would be his second time representing Perlis -- he was the 2008 state champion in the primary school category, but lost in the preliminary rounds of the national challenge.
"After taking a long break, I decided to try my luck again this year but I didn't expect to win as the other spellers were equally good," said the school prefect.
He took the SIR title when he correctly spelt "termitarium" in a gruelling tie-breaker round with second place winner, Muhammad Hilmi Mohd Rosli.
Pang also nailed words such as "venipuncture", "graminivorous" and "hydrogasification" to beat his contender.
First-time contestant Hilmi, 15, from SMK Syed Sirajuddin was thrilled to come in second as he had only targeted fourth place.
"Last year, I was in the audience observing the competition. I learned a lot of new words today," said the third-former who took home RM2,500 and a plaque.
Second runner-up Amir Aiman joined the challenge with no high expectations due to his unfamiliarity with the contest.
The fourth child of a petroleum engineer who works overseas said he had been to schools in Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia, and only returned to Malaysia eight months ago.
"The contest was the perfect opportunity to test my spelling skills. The standard is very high and I hope NST will continue to raise the bar," said Amir Aiman, who won RM2,000.
While Amir Aiman's victory was clear cut, Wan Nur Solehah and Mohd Danial Fahim Mohamad Nasri, 17, had to endure a long tie breaker to determine the fourth and fifth place winners.
In the end, Wan Nur Solehah emerged the better speller and won RM1,500.
"It was exhausting. I was determined to be in the top five spots because as a senior in school, it would be embarrassing for me if I lost," said the bubbly fifth-former.
On the other hand, Danial, from MRSM Beseri, was satisfied with his RM1,000 prize.
The participants received goodies and certificates of participation, and were treated to a lunch sponsored by McDonald's.
The SIR Challenge continues on April 16 and 17 at Tropicana City Mall, Petaling Jaya, and Danga City Mall in Johor Baru.
NST, 11 April 2011.
Well done Pang.... We've made us proud !!!!
Have a nice day....