De Jesus is state spelling bee champ


The 2018 state spelling bee champion Latisha Anne De Jesus, left, and runner-up Diego Metran pose for a photo after the spelling bee competition last Saturday at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Hall. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

The Public School System’s state level spelling bee lasted more than 40 rounds before naming Olei Elementary School’s Latisha Ann L. De Jesus as the state champion.

It was the first time for the spelling bee to go on for 42 rounds, according to Suuad Younis San Nicholas, Public School System Office of Curriculum and Instruction English Language Arts program coordinator.

De Jesus went head-to-head with Garapan Elementary School’s Diego Metran.

From round 17 to 42, De Jesus and Metran battled for the title of 2018 state level spelling bee champion. The fifth graders were able to make history by blowing through the entire spell list.

“We actually ran out of words from this year’s spell list so we used another spelling list from two years ago and that’s how we were able to determine the winner,” said San Nicholas.

She said the students were so passionate about the competition that they completely memorized the spell list they were given, resulting in the use of a spell list from a previous competition year.

“Seeing that both students had the 2018 list, they were able to study those words and know it pretty much by heart and by memory and in order to break that we needed to get another list,” she said.

San Nicholas said that it was good practice for the students because it challenged them to further enhance their vocabulary.

“I think it’s a good experience because having the other words from the other list would teach them not just to focus on memorizing certain words but expand their knowledge and skills so they can learn more words,” she said.

De Jesus would be representing the CNMI in the Pacific regional spelling bee competition that will be held in Guam on March 3. Metran will be her substitute.

De Jesus feels happy that she was able to make her family, friends, coaches, and her school proud. She hopes that she can continue to make them proud as she goes off to regionals.

When asked about preparations, De Jesus said her coach, June Seman, helped her prepare for the competition through various vocabulary activities.

De Jesus made it to the state spelling bee competition in the last three years. Last year she placed 11th.

Aside from De Jesus and Metran, the other competitors were James Thorson from GES, Selina Villena from GTC, Chit Moe for GTC, Charles Baybay from KES, Cassandra Fernandez from KES, Auriella Feger from Koblerville Elementary School, Nicole Sundiam from Koblerville Elementary School, Dereck Rangamar from OES, Edreanne Corrales from SVES, Omari Joab from Sinapalo Elementary School, Ashley Cayabyab from Sinapalo Elementary School, Glenn Valdezco from Sinapalo Elementary School, Juris Cabarles fron Tinian Elementary School, Clarize Rodriguez from Tinian Elementary School, Lhouanne Sison from WSR, Jenaya Cheng from WSR, Mary Grace Caras from Hopwood, Kristina Achas from Hopwood, Mariessa Babauta from Cha Cha Ocean View, Kiku Tudela from Cha Cha Ocean View, Elicia Cabrera from Dandan Middle School, Juliet Inocencio from Dandan Middle School, Janis Taitano from Francisco Sablan Middle School, Maria Ayuyu from Francisco Sablan Middle School, Leirha Erich Manalo from Tinian Jr. High School, and Angela Joy Esteban from Tinian Jr. High School.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at

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