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Manumalo 12th grader to represent Am Samoa at 2019 Pacific Symposium

Koneferenisi Purcell

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Of the 12 students named as 2019 Pacific Symposium for Science and Sustainability (PS3) semi-finalists, only one is from American Samoa. The rest are from the Aloha State.

Koneferenisi Purcell, a 17-year-old senior at Manumalo Academy, placed 5th during last year's 31st annual American Samoa High School Science Symposium (STEM related competition), hosted by the local Dept. of Education's Science/Health Division of the Office of Curriculum and Instruction.

But his project, entitled: "Sealed For A Better Deal: Converting Polystyrene Into Roof Sealant Using Gasoline," was good enough to impress a panel of off-island judges and secure him a spot in the Top 12 for this year's PS3, which is open to students in both public and private high schools in Hawai’i, American Samoa, and Micronesia.

The local symposium was held Nov. 9, 2018 at the American Samoa Community College multi-purpose center. A total of 22 student research papers were reviewed by a panel of scientists and university faculty, and the Top 12 student finalists were selected to present on symposium day, which was judged by locals.

In that showdown, Kone, as he is known to family and friends, placed 5th. But things moved in his favor when he was notified that his project was the lone one selected from American Samoa as a semi-finalist for this weekend's PS3, a two-day event set to be held Jan. 19- 20, 2019 at the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel.

According to the Hawaii Academy of Science, the PS3 serves as "a regional competition for students to advance to the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS). The JSHS is a national program funded by the United States Department of the Army, Navy, Air Force and sponsored by the Academy of Applied Science." The goal is to encourage high school students to pursue research — and studies — in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Five finalists at PS3 will receive expense-paid trips to the national JSHS in April/ May and the Top 3 finalists will win scholarship awards: 1st place - $2000; 2nd place - $1500; 3rd place - $1000.

Kone is from Atu'u and is the son of Genevieve Purcell.

When asked for comments about his most recent accomplishment, Kone said, "It feels great! All the hard work you put in… no matter how easy the project may seem, if you put in hard work and effort, it will pay off. Effort is key."

When he's not busy with school work, Kone likes to spend his free time dancing and playing volleyball.

His acceptance to the PS3 is only one of his many achievements as a high school student. Last year, he took first place overall in the individual exhibit category and second place overall in the high school division during the annual History Day competition.

As a result, Kone was one of the students who represented American Samoa at National History Day in Maryland last summer.

His words of advice for local youngsters: “If you work hard and trust in God, you will be blessed abundantly."

Congratulations Kone! O ou mama na.