Konawaena Sixth-Grader Wins Hawaii Spelling Bee

March 25, 2012, 1:13 PM HST
* Updated March 25, 1:24 PM
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A sixth-grader at Konawaena Middle School won the aio Hawaii State Spelling Bee Saturday night, earning a spot in the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee to be held May 29 to 31 near Washington, DC.

Taggart Nakamoto, 12, won the competition in the 16th round after correctly spelling “billabong,” PBS Hawaii said on Facebook. The competition was broadcast from the PBS Hawaii studio on Oahu.

Another Big Island student, Roland Afaga, Jr., a sixth-grader at Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School, was the runner-up among Hawaii’s 14 district finalists in the competition.

Billabong, which was defined as “a backwater caused by overflow from a river and forming a stagnant pool,” probably wasn’t the toughest word that Taggart Nakamoto faced, PBS Hawaii President Leslie Wilcox said on her blog. She said that distinction fell to the world “Bildungsroman,” which Nakamoto earlier spelled correctly.

Bildungsroman, for the uninitiated, is a noun originally from the German language and means a novel dealing with a person’s formative years or spiritual education.


Nakamoto comes from a family of accomplished spellers. His older brother, Talmadge Nakamoto, won the state spelling bee in 2009 and went on to compete in the national competition.

Students from 80 public, private and charter schools in Hawaii vied for a spot in Saturday’s competition.


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