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‘Krewe’ eliminates Maui speller from bee

SIMIONE OLAKAUATU, New to national spelling bee

Lokelani Intermediate School’s Simione Olakauatu, who had taken home gold at the Hawaii State Spelling Bee in March during his first-ever spelling bee season, was eliminated in the first round of the virtual 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee last week.

Though the experience was brief, Olakauatu said competing in a virtual national spelling bee was “pretty fun because it was my first time ever going that big.”

About 200 students nationwide tried to advance through six rounds of preliminary spelling tests to qualify for the quarterfinals. Semifinals are held on June 27 with the 36 remaining students until the final contestants compete for the championship on July 7.

“I was nervous the whole time,” he said.

The word that took Olakauatu out of the competition was “krewe,” a mid-19th century word that means an organization staging festivities during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

“It wasn’t spelled like you would think it is,” he said with a laugh on Friday afternoon. “I have to study a lot (next year) if I got that word wrong. I’ll have to study a lot.”

Now that nationals is over, Olakauatu said he’s been focusing on summer school and training with the football team at Lahainaluna High School, which he plans to attend in the fall.

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