VIDEOS: HISTORIC WIN FOR MANU’A AT SAMOA NEWS 20TH ANNUAL SPELLING BEE
It was a milestone for Manu’a as Walter Nevile Fa’apouli of Olosega Elementary School made history for his school when he spelled “abstract” accurately, making him the first to win the Samoa News Territorial Spelling Bee from Olosega, Manu’a. It was Walter’s fourth year to participate in the annual Bee.
Yesterday’s contest also made history, as it marked the Territory’s 20th Spelling Bee, which is held each year inside the KVZK TV studios in Utulei.
The local Bee’s major sponsor is Hawaiian Airlines, which is in it’s 7th year.
The competition this year lasted thirty rounds, and in the end it was Walter who was the last man standing. Samoa News would like to point out that the top five contestants were all from public schools this year.
The judges had to skip the mandated list at the end in order to determine the winner, and four rounds later — with all the spellers doing a phenomenal job — the judges moved to the list of words which the spellers had not seen.
Also known as the “off the chart words” — sometimes referred to as the special list — it comprises 300 words sent separately by the Bee’s founder, Scripp from the mandated list. Samoa News notes this year the list was part of the National Spelling Bee’s security measures — it was sent only 8 hours before the contest, via e-mail, and could only be assessed using a password sent by Scripps to Samoa News’ designated Bee contact.
The day began when the 29 competitors were introduced by the Samoa News general manager Robin Annesley Dalton who welcomed all on behalf of the newspaper and the Bee’s major sponsor, Hawaiian Airlines.
Rules were then explained by Mrs. Evelyn Lili’o-Satele, who has been with the Bee for the entire 20 years, coordinating the students for the yearly event, and at times the event itself. Samoa News has long appreciated Mrs. Lili’o-Satele’s dedication to the student-participants of the Bee — preparing them for the event, no matter what school they attend, all on a volunteer basis. A special fa’amalo goes out to her from Samoa News.
At the end of this year’s Bee competition, Dalton noted it had many “firsts” — Walter being the first male winner since 2002 and the first winner out of Manu’a — as well as it being the Bee’s 20th Anniversary.
(Samoa News further notes that prior to Walter, there have only been 2 other male winners of the Bee, and both were students of Manumalo. They are: Kuldip Shergill Jr.- 8th grade and Lawrence Fernandez, who won twice — in 1997 as a 5th grader and in 2000 as an 8th grader. This makes Walter the first male Territorial Bee winner not attending Manumalo, and only the 3rd to win the territory’s Bee.)
Dalton continued, saying in this year’s Bee the spellers were almost flawless when spelling the words and in the end they had to go into the “off the chart words”, to seek a winner, which indicates the students are getting better every year.
She further stated that Walter, a seventh grader from Olosega, has participated four years in a row, sending a message out to other spellers that they should never give up, but “keep on trying until you achieve the goal.”
Walter echoed the sentiments of Mrs Dalton, noting that it took him four tries to achieve his goal. “It’s not easy, it took a lot of work, including sacrificing my play time to achieve my dream goal of winning the Samoa News Spelling Bee,” he told Samoa News, adding that his next goal is to go further to win the National Spelling Bee in Washington DC.
“Anything is possible,” he told Samoa News.
Walter, is the son of Leaupepetele Vili Fa’apouli and Rosa Nevile Ta’ase from Olosega Manu’a. Overly excited, Walter thanked his family, friends and his hardworking coach, his grandmother Siaganu’u Nevile for their endless support and assistance.
Tauloto was accompanied by his coach and grandmother, and his grandfather, Leau Nevile, from Manu’a. Siaganu’u told Samoa News Walter is an amazing young man who worked very hard to get to the level he’s in now and he will be working extra hard as he prepares for the National Spelling Bee.
Walter started competing in the Bee in the 4th grade, and this is his fourth time in the competition. Each time he was among the top ten spellers.
In the audience, cheering for their grandson were his proud grandparents, Motu and Anna Fa’apouli Feagaimali’i. Anna, who was fighting back her tears, said she’s proud of her second eldest grandson.
Second place winner is Fa’aiuina Nurana Tuitama, who participated in the Spelling Bee for the first time this year. She was accompanied by her teacher-coach Tina Iosefa and cheering in the crowd was her mother. Fa’aiuina attends Pava’ia’i Elementary School.
Four students came in third place, and this is the second time that more than one student has come in third place.
The four students who all tied for third place were: Angelo Mayer of Tuato’o Alofau Elementary School, Reinara Apaula Talo of Lauli’i Elementary, Sapioamoa Steffany of Aua Elementary and Vaelua Pearl Misiata of Matatula Elementary School.
Samoa News points out this is the second time, Reinara and Sapioamoa have come in third place.
The Territorial Bee is the final contest for the winners from every eligible school and only students from third to eighth grade are allowed to participate, according to National Bee rules.
Samoa News congratulates all the contestants, their coaches and parents and is very proud to honor the winners, who have worked hard to participate in the Bee.
Walter will travel with his coach to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, May 28- 30 in Washington D.C. with their trip and accommodations underwritten by Hawaiian Airlines.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS — FA’AFETAI TELE LAVA MO LE FESOSOANI
Samoa News, as the host of the Territorial Bee would like to acknowledge the following generous community donors who have helped make this Bee the tremendous success that it is:
The Major Sponsor, Hawaiian Airlines, in their seventh year sponsoring the Bee.
Other prizes were donated by the following:
Bluesky Communications, Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s American Samoa, Nu’uuli Place Cinema, VCX Internet, Video Plaza, GHC Reid Co. Ltd., Britannica on-line, Webster’s International Dictionary, and the Sugerman Foundation.
Of course, the Bee wouldn’t be the success it is each year, without the participation of elementary students and the teacher-coaches of the ASDOE public schools as well as the private schools of the territory.
Samoa News is also grateful to Bee pronouncers, Dr. Lina Scanlan, who is the director of the Teacher Education Program at ASCC and Lewis Wolman, who is currently serving as Chamber of Commerce chairman, and Bluesky Communications’ Country Manager, for their contributions, as well as to this year's judges: Evelyn Lili’o-Satele representing the Department of Education and Ethan Lake, the Sports Commissioner, along with Robin Annesley Dalton.
And finally, thanks to KVZK for their 20th year of live coverage of the event.