In a school of almost 400 students, winning the schoolwide spelling bee is no small task. And winning two years in a row is even more impressive.
But that’s exactly what fifth-grader Shylene Villa has done at Kualapu’u Elementary School. Molokai’s largest elementary school, and its only charter school, held its annual school spelling bee Wednesday and Shylene proved to be the last person standing.
In front of a cafeteria packed with students and parents, 10-year-old Shylene broke a six-round tie for first place by correctly spelling “caravan.” She beat out sixth grader Brendan Keanini who misspelled the word “elaborative.”
It took 16 rounds to decide a winner. After round 10, Villa and Keanini were the only contestants remaining. Villa correctly spelled “consignment” while Keanini spelled “haughtiness” to make it to the final two.
The tie between these two top spellers continued as they stumbled with the following words: “accomplishment,” “empirical,” “fantastically,” “recyclable,” “consistency,” “prominent,” “intuitive,” “indivisible,” “integral” and “advocate.”
For winning, Villa took home $50 in cash and two $5 gift certificates to Kamoi Snack ‘N’ Go. She also advances to the Maui District Spelling Bee taking place at Baldwin High School Jan. 31. She can move on to the state spelling bee on Oahu and, potentially, the Scripps National Bee.
To prepare for Maui, Villa said she will “study all of my words.” She added that her family does help by testing her on her words every night. To get ready for Wednesday’s bee, Villa said she studied all night and even during physical education time. She also said she reads a lot of books.
Villa’s fifth grade teacher and organizer of the spelling bee, Joyce Haase, praised Shylene and talked about what spelling bees offer to all students.
“I think that the best part about it for her is that now she knows how she needs to prepare for the district bee,” said Haase. “So she’s going in knowing that she needs to study the words because there is a lot of competition at the Maui District Bee.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to develop their vocabulary and understand word derivations,” she added. “Students have a place to excel and feel they can practice the words and share with people all the new words they learned.”
Villa said she was happy about winning and plans to go for three years in a row next year. “I will keep on studying my words,” she said.