Contest encourages pupils to hone their story-writing skills in the English language.
NOTHING is impossible. That was what pupil Choong Cheng Ken learnt from his experience participating in the Step Up Story time contest organised by The Star.
The bespectacled 11-year-old from SJK (C) Keh Seng, Melaka, was one of the four grand prize winners of the writing contest.
“When you put your mind and soul into achieving something, you will get it. Never give up even if you don’t know what to write about at first,” he said after the contest prize-giving ceremony held at Menara Star recently. He also added enthusiastically that he would participate again if the opportunity arose.
The other three lucky winners were Denisse Khong Shin Whye from SK Methodist Girls School, Penang, Kavinisha Suresh from SK Bukit Raya, Selangor, and Pang Yee Tong from SJK (C) Notre Dame, Melaka.
The Story time contest, which ended on April 24, was open to primary school pupils in Years Five and Six nationwide.
Pupils were required to pick one to four pictures from The Star and, based on the chosen pictures, weave an interesting tale in 80 to 100 words.
Grand prize winners of the Story time contest won a two-day, one-night holiday stay for four and theme park tickets for two, sponsored by Resorts World Genting.
Ninety consolation prize winners, from both national schools and vernacular schools, walked away with a theme park ticket each, also sponsored by Resorts World Genting.
The schools with the top five highest entries received books sponsored by Scholastic Asia.
In her speech, Resort Communications & Public Relations vice-president Katherine Chew said that she was delighted to be part of an initiative that promoted education in a fun way.
“Resorts World Genting has always been passionate about contributing to the development of children – and in this case, helping them to improve their English by taking part in a writing contest. It is a meaningful and significant way of teaching our young minds.
“Contests such as the Step Up Story time contest contribute to the development of young ones. Storytelling plays an important role in early literacy development.
“Most importantly, I would also like to thank the teachers for guiding pupils to write well and submit their stories. Teachers deserve applause for all their hard work. Without them, none of this would have been possible.”
Scholastic Asia education sales manager (Malaysia) Karwai Goh said he hoped students would be able to benefit from joining the contest.
“I like this contest by The Star as it really cultivates students’ interest in writing.
“We hope to nurture students’ skills in reading and writing. If a child is able to read, then the child can source for information on his own.”
“Educators play a very important role in terms of motivating students and inspiring them, but we also need to provide them with the correct tools,” he added.
Also present at the event was Star Media Group executive editor Brian Martin and NiE editorial manager Sharon Ovinis.
Fellow grand prize winner Kavinisha exclaimed: “I am excited and happy!”
The Year Six pupil said that when writing, pupils should not be focused on one point alone but to look at other angles.
“Be creative and open,” she added.
She said participating in the contest had taught her new words in the English language.
“I had fun writing for this contest. English is important as it is an international language,” she added.
Delighted with her daughter’s win, Sunita Gopalan, 39, said she hoped the win would encourage Kavinisha to write more.
Consolation prize winner, Kerosshan Paramasivam, 12, was thrilled to have gained a new experience.
A bookworm who possesses five shelves of books in his room, the SK Mahmud, Raub, Pahang, pupil wrote a tale of a girl who grows up to become a guitarist.
“I want to participate again! It is a good contest for pupils who love English and wish to learn the language.
“It is an international language. In many countries, people may speak in their mother tongue but will communicate with others in English because it is widely spoken,” he added.
His mother, Rajeswari Saundrapandian, 46, said the contest was a good opportunity for Kerosshan to express himself.
“More students should take part in contests like this; it is a good platform for them to learn English.
“The NiE pullouts are really good, there are a lot of activities for students. Teachers and parents should make use of them,” she said.
Contest judge NiE freelance trainer Teh Soo Choon said that criteria she looked for when vetting through the entries were creativity and organisation.
“The pupil who has thought through a story is organised as it will have a clear beginning, middle and end.
“Then, I also look for the ‘wow’ factor. Unique stories stand out because of the way they are presented. I look for storylines that would impress the reader, such as humour or a twist.
Pupils should not just pick up a pen and simply write, Teh said.
“When they do this, there will be no structure to their stories and the sentences are not properly linked. Pupils should be made to think through their stories first.
“Each story should have a good and clear introduction. The main characters should be properly introduced. The middle should have the bulk of the story, and finally, there must be interesting conclusions.
“The essays of grand prize winners were well-structured and had good use of vocabulary. Although it was just 100 words, they managed to put across a story well.”
SJK (C) Notre Dame English panel head Gan Kai Jun said that since her pupils were not exposed to English competitions, the contest was good exposure.
“The winners from my school were very surprised and happy to win a prize. This will encourage them to write more.”
English teacher Harlina Hamdan from SK Bukit Raya said that the winning pupils from her school were excited and could not wait to enjoy themselves at the theme park.
“Step Up Story time is a good contest that encourages pupils to write because it gives them a chance to write interesting stories based on their own experiences and to compete with other pupils at a national level,” she added.
The Story time contest template was published in Step Up on March 14 and 16. The template was also in the Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) pullout on March 15.
Step Up is a 24-page bilingual pullout with fun workbook exercises and activities for primary school pupils in Years Four, Five and Six.
The pullout comes in two versions - a Bahasa Malaysia version and a Chinese version. Each version features translation of difficult English words.
The pullout features syllabus-based content and is endorsed by the Education Ministry. Full results will be published at http://contests.thestar.com.my/stepupstorytime/ on July 19.
Did you find this article insightful?