For the third year in a row, the statewide spelling bee winner is a boy and a Neighbor Islander--it's Akira Takabayashi, an eighth grader at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School in Lihue, Kauai. Here he is, left, with his mom and his sister. Recent past winners were Taggart Nakamoto of the Big Island and Christopher Kim of Maui.
2013 aio Hawaii State Spelling Bee judges were (left to right, below) Adria Campbell, head judge David Tumilowicz, and Helen McNeill.
KHON2's Justin Cruz, below, hosted community supporters in a tent outside our TV studio while I served as bee pronouncer.
Akira, 14,was born in Japan and didn't learn English until a few years ago. He spends time reading while waiting for his mother's quitting time at her school job. He likes science fantasy novels and aspires to be a scientist. Akira seemed calm and upbeat and cheerful during the bee, which dished out some tough words. The winning word was one of the easier ones he spelled tonight: lamentation.
Congratulations are also due to Hayley Dietrich, an eighth grader at Le Jardin Academy in Windward Oahu, who took the #2 spot in the statewide bee.
Good luck to Akira as he now gets ready to represent Hawaii in the Scripps National Spelling Bee near Washington DC May 28!
Susan Eichor from sponsor aio sent all of the contestants home with a heavy SWAG bag--SWAG as in Spelling Winners are Great.