For the sixth year, Oleai Elementary School won first place in the 2013 Parade of Books of the Rotary Club of Saipan on Saturday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium.
The 30-member team captured the approving nods of the panel of judges and defended the title against seven other elementary schools, receiving a score of 94.6 for their interpretation of the Carolinian myth called The Legend of Lipe’pee’lmo’ng.
The story tells of a man who was discriminated by the people of his village for being born weaker than others. When canoes within the village began to disappear, Lipe’pee’lmo’ng led a search to find the missing men and encountered obstacles that proved the strength and magic he had within all along.
Playing the lead role was Yarawe Ythemar, who brought the character of Lipe’pee’lmo’ng to life.
Ythemar, 12, said he only memorized the script for a day and acknowledged the mentorship of his coaches and his family, which hails from Chalan Laulau.
“I feel awesome and excited that we won because I know we did a good job and we worked pretty hard for this. We really expressed our feelings out there,” said Ythemar.
OES teacher Jasylene Parico revealed how their team almost didn’t join the contest due to other school events. She said they only began preparations on April 1, less than two weeks before the actual competition.
“Everybody helped put it together,” she told Saipan Tribune.
Parico said they chose the Refaluwasch legend as their piece because “we were talking about which is the best book to choose and so we decided on this. It was a beautiful story when we went through it.”
Parico said they also drew on the expertise of Lino Olopai, who wrote The Legend of Lipe’pee’lmo’ng. Olopai, in a separate interview, said the story emphasizes the importance of respect for one another regardless of what people look like.
“The basic moral of the story is to never judge people on what they look from the outside. You need to get to know that person from the inside to give you fair judgment of the person,” he said.
Olopai reminded OES students a day before the competition to respect their fellow students, teachers and other school staff, parents and other family members. “Before you do anything bad, don’t forget the story of Lipe’pee’lmo’ng.”
OES took home the $1,000 first prize plus waterpark passes at Pacific Islands Club for winning the Best in School Spirit award.
Other winners were Koblerville Elementary School which presented The Legend of the Breadfruit Tree, a tale about two brothers from separate villages who discovered the breadfruit tree that provided food for their people and addressed the famine that struck their islands. KES got 91 points to win the second prize of $750 and an overnight stay at PIC for bagging the Best in Director award.
In third place for 88.5 points was Garapan Elementary School, which won $500 for their performance of The Legend of the Flame Tree, a love story about the beautiful daughter of a chief and a warrior.
In fourth place was San Vicente Elementary School, which received 79.3 points and won $300 for their rendition of Taga, the Boy, a legend about the son of the strongest and biggest man in Guam.
Fifth place winner was Mount Carmel School, which won $200 for their presentation of Banana and Coconut, a legend about the cycle of life, death, and new life.
Other contestants that won consolation prizes were Eucon International School, which performed Juan Malo & His Miraculous Medicine; Kagman Elementary School, which portrayed The Great Sea Race; and Dandan Elementary School, which presented Sirena.
The competition is now on its 9th year. This year’s judges were MHS principal Cherlyn Cabrera, educator Jessica Barcinas Taylor, Ph.D., Tan Siu Lin Foundation manager Maggie Sablan, and CNMI Library Council chair Mark Rabauliman.
Hundreds of students, families, and other community members watched the weekend competition. Visiting members of the Kishiwada North Rotary Club in Japan also witnessed the festivities.
Pete Shilling, Saipan Rotary Club president, noted their organization’s focus on literacy through programs such as Parade of Books.
“If our young people are not literate, they will not flourish as adults,” he said. “They have to be literate and we support projects that will promote literacy.”
Shilling said this year’s theme, “Legends and Myths of Marianas and Micronesia,” is also an effective means for young learners to know about the mythology of the region.
“We don’t want our young people to forget our history. Every culture has its myths and legends and they are carried on by performances like this or through word of mouth. I think it’s very important that we chose this year’s theme to help our young people remember the old stories that our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents grew up with,” said Shilling.