Six U.S. students to test Microsoft Office skills at world championship event

Usually it's professional athletes who go to Disneyland after they win something. What better way to bask in the awesomeness of a transcendent triumph than by celebrating your success at The Happiest Place on Earth? Students in the annual Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship also go to Disneyland, but they go to engage each other on the field of battle. To triumph and win fortune and glory, or lose and slink away in defeat.

At this year's event, coming up July 27-30, six students who are already winners at the U.S. National Championship level will square off against champions from other corners of the globe. The competitors are all certified — you can't compete unless you've passed a Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam in the 2007 or 2010 versions of Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. So whether they win or not, all participants earn a widely acknowledged IT certification.

The six U.S. winners, announced last week, include one champion for each of the qualifying certifications:

Daniel Hill of Green Hope High School in Cary, N.C., is the Microsoft Office Specialist who bested all comers in Microsoft Excel 2010, while Stormy Skyles of Caldwell Parish High School in Columbia, La., grabbed the Microsoft Excel 2007 honors. Among Microsoft Office Specialists competing in the Microsoft PowerPoint categories, Timothy Holdiness of Ouachita Parish High School in Monroe, La., claimed the title of PowerPoint 2010 national champion, while Tyler Millis of Dunbar High School in Fort Myers, Fla., rose above the PowerPoint 2007 competitors. Finally, in the Microsoft Word categories, Kyle Forst of Bridging Communities Regional Career and Technical Center in New Kent, Va., seized the Word 2010 crown, while Dominique Howard of East Harlem Employment Service in New York City, N.Y., was tops among all Word 2007 competitors.


Those six will represent the United States in Anaheim, where competition is scheduled to take place at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which boasts a special Disneyland theme park entrance, as well as its own themed pools and waterslide.

In all, finalists from 110 countries will compete at the Grand Californian, where all students take exams covering the certification that represents their area of expertise. The winner is the contestant who achieves the highest score, with the tiebreaker being the amount of time required to complete the test. World Championship winners are announced in August at a special ceremony.

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GoCertify's mission is to help both students and working professionals get IT certifications. GoCertify was founded in 1998 by Anne Martinez.