Marianas High School, the only representative of the CNMI Public School System at the annual Chamoru Language Competition in Guam this year, returned home victorious after bagging seven awards on Tuesday.
The MHS Chamorro Club emerged champion in all categories it competed in and was presented with gold medals in five categories: oratorical, poetry recitation, proficiency, dance, and skit. MHS also bagged a silver medal in the male singing contest and a bronze in the proficiency category.
The annual Chamorro language competition, which aims to preserve and strengthen the region's indigenous language, was part of the University of Guam's Charter Day celebration on its 61st anniversary.
According to MHS principal Cherlyn Cabrera, the school sent this year 26 students to the competition.
Named gold medalists were Alan Delos Santos, oratorical contest; Francine Sablan, poetry recitation; and Raymond Nakazato, proficiency category.
MHS' 12-member dance troupe won the gold in the traditional dance category, while another 12-member group bagged a gold in the skit competition
The dance group's coach and adviser Luis John Castro was also presented with a special recognition.
Cabrera, who was also one of the group's chaperones, credited the students for their hard work and commitment. She disclosed that besides the diligent rehearsals of the group, students also spent a lot of time and effort in finding money for their airfare.
She also recognized the hard work of the teachers and coaches and the support and understanding of parents and community partners.
Last weekend, MHS Glee Club Rhythm 'N Harmony also emerged overall champion in the Tumon Bay Music Festival and was presented with the prestigious Sweepstakes Trophy, making it two years in a row for the group. Cabrera credited the “strong community partnership” built by MHS with the Glee Club's musical director, Paul Dujua.
Saipan Tribune learned that MHS has been joining the annual Chamoru Language Competition since 2004 where it started sweeping major recognitions.
“We're very proud of these achievements. This is a great honor not only for MHS but for the entire PSS and the Commonwealth. This is just a reminder why educators do what they do. We're here to really bring out the best in our students. It is about dedication, commitment, and excellence.something they can take into their academics and into their lives,” Cabrera told Saipan Tribune.
Lack of funding
Lumi Bermudes, PSS coordinator for the Chamorro language program, disclosed yesterday that many schools skipped the Guam competition this year due to “diminished funding” from the school system, which has to assess “competing priorities.”
In acknowledging the importance of the language competition, Bermudes said PSS is planning to revive the PSS-wide Chamorro competition this year after being suspended last year.
If plans push through, the event will take place in May, coinciding with the Heritage Month celebration and will mark the second year of the PSS-organized competition. Bermudes said the plan will depend on the funding to be identified for the purpose.
Last year alone, PSS spent over $70,000 to send participants to the Guam contest. Having the statewide competition, Bermudes said, would limit the number of delegates from schools as only major winners will compete in the Guam event.
Students of the Tinian Elementary School were disappointed upon learning that they won't be able to compete in the Guam event last Tuesday.
TES principal Dionne Santos told Saipan Tribune that this was the first time for the school to skip the competition after 10 years of participating. She said the school normally sends 40 to 50 students to the contest and spends about $25,000 to $30,000 each year. Each year, the group comes home victorious.
“We're ready to defend title [this year]; however, funding is the challenge. This is the first time we skipped the competition because we didn't have funding to support the students' participation,” she said.
Hopwood Junior High principal Jonas Barcinas cited the same reason for the school's inability to join the competition. The school has been joining the event for three years and usually sends over 20 participants at a cost of more than $10,000.
Both Barcinas and Santos are hopeful that their schools will resume participating in the language competition and vowed to plan better next school year.