Ron Rocky Coloma threw his hands in the air with a big smile on his face after successfully spelling the word “pastiche” in the final round of the 2014 Scripps Regional Spelling Bee, on Saturday, at LeoPalace Resort’s Hotel Belvedere in Guam.
Coloma, a student at Santa Barbara Catholic School, was crowned champion at the regional spelling bee, with Saipan Grace Christian Academy 7th grade student Justine Theola Calayo—who went head to head with Coloma in the last few rounds—placing second.
Both students made it to the eighth round and approached the microphone for the next four rounds to compete for the title.
Both of them correctly spelled the words “achromatic and “cartesian.”
It was then Caloma’s turn. He correctly spelled the word “abaca.”
Calayo, however, misspelled her word in the next round: “diptych.”
Coloma then correctly spelled “serviette.”
At this point during the competition, the Santa Barbara Catholic School student needed to spell the next word correctly to lock in his victory.
After asking for the definition, word of origin, a sentence, and the announcer to repeat the word again, he correctly spelled “pastiche.”
His parents in the audience and other family members jumped off their seats and cried tears of joy after hearing the announcer John Anderson tell their son that he spelled the word right.
This year’s winner bested 55 other top spellers from Guam, Rota, Saipan, Palau, and Pohnpei in Saturday’s competition. He now prepares to represent the Pacific region in the 87th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee scheduled for May 25 in Washington, D.C.
“Second place feels great, considering that it’s my first time going to the regionals. I had to stay after school four days a week until 4:30pm. I’m looking forward to trying again next year,” Calayo told the Saipan Tribune.
Her teacher coach, Ami Danganan, said she is proud of her student. “Her victory was unexpected and more than what we prayed and asked for. Our prayer that morning is that she would get the words she knew and that whatever the result would be would bring glory to God and a blessing to others,” she said.
Dangana said Calayo remained “calm and cool” during the entire competition.
“We also appreciate how the other Saipan schools were cheering with us,” she added.
Saipan sent several other student representatives from private and public schools.
CNMI state champion Holly Liban garnered 10th place. The middle-school student misspelled “bobbejaan.”
San Vicente School principal Boni Pangelinan flew to Guam to support the students and said she was at the edge of her seat throughout the competition. “She got a word she didn’t know.”
“Holly was very confident, she was not nervous at all. I know for us as teachers, administrators, and parents that we are even more nervous than the students,” she said. “We were rooting for Saipan the whole way through.”
Rota Grace Christian Academy student Rency Camacho was eliminated in Round 7 after incorrectly spelling “plenipotentiary.” The middle school student said it was both an exciting and nervous experience for her. Camacho placed 8th.
Marian Miranda of Garapan Elementary School survived until the second round.
A.J. Samonte from Oleai Elementary and Green Meadow’s 4th grade student Alijanah Manabat also participated in last week’s event.