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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kauai spelling bee goes marathon 37 rounds before winner is crowned

By Dennis Fujimoto
The Garden Island

LIHU‘E, Kauai — For Athena Abadilla, “protocol” was the winning word in the 2010 Kaua‘i District Spelling Bee.

The sixth-grade student at St. Theresa School in Kekaha outlasted Harmony Graziano, a Kapa‘a Middle School seventh-grader, by properly spelling the eight-letter word, which means a code of etiquette or set of convictions, recently at the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, according to spelling bee coordinator Billi Smith.

“She misspelled ‘rhinoceros,’ and I got ‘protocol’ to win,” Abadilla said during the county’s 13-and-Under girls basketball game, Thursday night at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.

Abadilla and Graziano both wing to O‘ahu for the state spelling bee March 14, starting at noon at the Paliku Theater at the Windward Community College.

If successful there, both have an opportunity to advance to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.

Abadilla, successful after 37 rounds, follows in sister Natasha’s footsteps. Natasha, now a senior at Waimea High School, also thrived in the Kaua‘i District Spelling Bee, winning in 2006.

“Athena and Harmony competed fiercely from Round 11 through 37,” Smith said in an e-mail. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a spelling bee go that many rounds. This is a ‘first’ for a Kaua‘i Spelling Bee since previous bee champions would emerge after about 20 rounds.”