A 10-year-old fifth grader from San Vicente Elementary School emerged as this year’s big winner of the Public School System State Spelling Bee after besting 31 other top spellers from public schools.
Holly Sarah Liban sealed her victory after she correctly spelled the winning word “remora” during the 33rd round of the competition, held Saturday at Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center.
Liban’s final opponent in the nerve-wracking head-to-head battle was Marian Miranda of Garapan Elementary School.
Miranda’s incorrectly spelled the word “aventurine” in the final round to land her in the second top spot. She, together with third placer AJ Samonte, will join Liban at the upcoming regional spelling bee in Guam where the champion will be sent to the national spelling bee in Washington, D.C.
“I am very happy and excited to go to Guam!” Liban told Saipan Tribune after the competition, disclosing that this will be her second time to go to the Guam regional contest. She finished Top 4 last year.
This year’s big winner is the daughter of Lorna and Marshall Liban. A consistent academic achiever, the young Liban was San Vicente School’s spelling bee champion last year.
Before facing her opponents in Saturday’s competition, Liban shared her secret: “I just mostly studied everyday…but before the competition, I made sure I am relaxed and so was my mind.”
If she landed Top 4 in last year’s regional competition in Guam, Liban is determined to bag the championship this time and be at the nationals this year. She vowed to better prepare this time to make this happen for her.
Liban said her victory is not all hers. “God helped me to win this competition.” She also credited the valuable help of her brother, Mark Anthony Liban, who helped her prepare.
For the second best speller, Miranda, she said there’s nothing more satisfying than to see the fruits of her hard labor. Though she was nervous the whole time, Miranda is happy that she was able to regain and maintain her confidence up to the end. She is the daughter of Rafael and Marina Miranda. Like the champion, the young Miranda aims to be at the national spelling bee.
According to Bobby Cruz, PSS English Language program coordinator and overall in charge of the competition, there were a total of 32 participants in this year’s competition. These are all top spellers in the public school’s third to eight grade level.
2014 marks the second year of the PSS State Spelling Bee.
Cruz said the Top 3 winners—Liban, Miranda, and Samonte—are the official representatives of PSS in the regional competition slated on March 8 in Guam.
For Lynette Villagomez, Territories and Freely Associated States education grant program director of PSS, the outstanding performance demonstrated by the top winners shows how committed they are to do well at the regional event.
“We’re very pleased with the performance of our students. I am confident that they will make us proud in the Guam competition. They worked really hard and I have no doubt that it can be done,” said Villagomez.
Judges at Saturday’s spelling bee included Tyler Collins, Frank Borja, and Brandon Decker. SSHS principal Jonathan Cabrera served as the competition’s pronouncer while Hopwood principal Jonas Barcinas served as the event’s master of ceremony.