Taggart Nakamoto, a 12-year-old sixth-grader at Konawaena Middle School on Hawaii island, will represent Hawaii at the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee after becoming the Hawaii State Spelling Bee Champion Saturday night.
Nakamoto won the 2012 aio Hawaii State Spelling Bee by correctly spelling "billabong" — defined as "a backwater caused by overflow from a river and forming a stagnant pool" — during round 16 of the competition held Saturday night at the PBS Hawaii studio.
Sixth grader Roland Afaga Jr., 11, of Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School, is Hawaii’s first runner-up.
"Taggart and Roland Jr. are both remarkable spellers," said 2012 aio Hawaii State Spelling Bee coordinator Sherie Char. "Before the championship round, Taggart correctly spelled difficult words, such as ‘whortleberry’ and ‘Bildungsroman,’ with ease. His extraordinary spelling talent amazed us all."
Nakamoto enjoys reading and wants to become a forensic chemist or a chemistry professor.
Two of his older brothers participated in previous Hawaii State Spelling Bees: Teagan, 19, was a finalist in the State Bee in 2005 and 2006. Nakamoto’s second oldest brother, Talmage, 16, won sixth place in the State Bee in 2007, and advanced to the National Spelling Bee in 2008 and 2009.
The 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee competition will be held on May 29 to 31 near Washington, D.C.
On May 31, the live broadcast of the semifinals will air on ESPN2, and the final competition will air live on ESPN.
PBS Hawaii will show a rebroadcast of the 2012 aio Hawaii State Spelling Bee at 1 p.m. March 31.
The competition featured 14 finalists ranging from 9 years old to 14 years old. They represented Honolulu, Central Oahu, Leeward Oahu, Windward Oahu, Maui, Big Island and Kauai.