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Tauloto Tuiolemotu, an 8th grader from Leone Midkiff Elementary, made history for her school when she spelled “reprehensible” accurately, making her the first to win the Samoa News Territorial Spelling Bee from Leone Midkiff. This annual event marks the 19th Spelling Bee, and it is held each year inside the KVZK TV studios in Utulei.


The competition this year lasted twenty-six rounds, and in the end it was this young lady who remained standing. Of note, the last 13 contestants were all from public schools.


The day began when the 31 competitors were introduced by Samoa News general manager Robin Annesley Dalton who welcomed all on behalf of the newspaper and the Bee’s major sponsor, Hawaiian Airlines.


In an interview with Samoa News, Tauloto said this is the result of many sacrifices she made so she could win the territorial bee and go to Washington DC to compete at the national level.


“I’m very excited and happy at the same time, because all my time spent away from the television, my friends and- literally everything- has paid off. However, now I will work harder because I have one more competition to attend,” said the 12-year-old winner.


Tauloto, who is the daughter of Tafale and Si’u Leatanu’u Tuiolemotu. Tauloto from Malaeloa Aitulagi, thanked her family, friends and her coach Maria for their endless support and assistance. Tauloto also competed last year but bowed out in ninth place.


Tauloto was accompanied by her coach Maria Theresa Barja, a Special Education Teacher, who is a member of the English Committee that assists students with the Territorial Bee and the Young Writers’ essay competition.


“She’s an amazing girl who worked very hard to get to where she is now,” said Barja. "She worked harder after placing ninth last year and this year she was determined and confidant and her hard work all paid off. However, we have to work extra hard now for the national bee competition,” said the coach.


In the audience was her proud aunt, Tauloto Lovi Tuiolemotu, who in tears thanked her village of Malaeloa and the school for their tapuaiga (support).  


Perennial bee contestant, Walter Nevile Fa’apouli from Olosega Elementary School came in second place, as he was out when he spelled “striated” incorrectly. Fighting his tears back, Walter, who is a sixth grader, said he’s happy that he made it to the final round and was the only male left in the competition. Walter started competing in the Bee in the 4th grade, and this is his third time in the competition. Each time he was among the top ten spellers.  


Walter was accompanied by his grandmother and coach Siaganu’u Nevile and in the crowd were his grandparents Motu and Anna Fa’apouli Feagaimali’i. The grandmothers told Samoa News they are proud of their boy, who was the only male who made it to the final round.


Walter is the son of Leaupepetele Vili Fa’apouli and Rosa Nevile Ta’ase.  Siaganu’u thanked the people and the school of OIosega, Manu’a for their endless support. “He will work harder for next year’s competition,” said Walter’s coach.


Five students came in third place, a monumental record for the Bee, as this is the first time this has ever happened.


The five students who all tied for third place, were Reiara Apaula Talo of Lauli’i Elementary, Sapioamoa Steffany of Aua Elementary, Deborah Meleisea of Lupelele Elementary, Suilima Afusia of Olomoana Elementary and Melody Ve’e from Fitiuta Elementary. 


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. 


Tuiolemotu will travel with her coach to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, May 28-30 in Washington D.C. with their trip and accommodations underwritten by Hawaiian Airlines.


In addition to participating in the competition Tuiolemotu and Barja will enjoy sightseeing trips around the nation’s capital and a host of social activities especially set up for the nearly 300 spellers expected this year.




Samoa News, as the host and sponsor 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 sixth year sponsoring the Bee; and Consolidators International Inc. that generously donated Sylvania laptops and gift packs for each participant.


Other prizes were donated by the following:


GHC Reid, Nu’uuli Place Cinema, Bluesky Communications, Carl’s Jr., ACE American Industries, Vai's Flowers and Gifts, Samuel Lewis Sugerman Foundation, Britannica on-line, and Webster’s International Dictionary.


Of course, the Bee wouldn’t be the success it is each year, without the participation of elementary students, 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. Kathleen Kolhoff-Belle and Lewis Wolman for their contributions, as well as this year's judges Miss American Samoa, Arielle Tuilefano and Irene Kane, VP South Pacific Island Services for Consolidators International Inc. along with Annesley Dalton.


And of course, the day would not have been as successful with out the food and beverages compliments of Pizza Hut, Impex Pacific and Panamex Pacific.