Taupo student off to Microsoft world champs

By Laurilee McMichael

A Taupo student's expert computer knowledge has resulted in Microsoft in the United States selecting him to compete in a world championship competition.

Ben Kok, 16, says he's "pulled in" by computers. He loves learning from them, likes the way they evolve and develop, and likes building them from scratch.

So a free trip to compete for the coveted title of world champion in Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint is a dream come true.

Ben, a Year 12 student at Tauhara College, gained an almost perfect score in a Microsoft Word online exam last week, and a day later the school received confirmation he had won the trip to the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship Finals at the end of the month.

He will be in the US for eight days, four of them at the world championships. Up for grabs are prizes and scholarships worth more than US$25,000.

Ben was the only New Zealand student selected for the world championship and said he'd be "practising, practising, practising" his Microsoft skills in the lead-up.

The world champion will be the person who can score the highest in the shortest time.

It's a golden opportunity for Ben, who said he's always been interested in computers and enjoyed playing around with software and hardware.

Three weeks ago Tauhara College was one of only 10 New Zealand secondary schools to be officially designated a Microsoft IT Academy, which allows it to offer specialist Microsoft Office qualifications. Ben said he was excited about that because it meant he could gain certificates to help his future IT career.

He was already familiar with Microsoft Word through his schoolwork and did three or four hours' practice for the exam. The exam, which must be completed in less than 50 minutes, tests how proficient a student is with the Word package by asking them to complete a series of tasks, from simple jobs such as changing a font to more complex tasks such as protecting a document from editing. Ben completed the exam in just 12 minutes and hoped he'd done enough to qualify for the finals.

"[Deputy principal Iain] Mutch came into class and told me and congratulated me," said Ben. "I was very surprised, I wasn't expecting to get through."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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