Wilcox Elementary students sweep Olympiad awards

LIHUE — Wilcox Elementary School students had a lot to celebrate Tuesday morning at the Historic County Building as the Science Olympiad teams were recognized for their performances in the recent Science Olympiad Tournament’s Elementary Division.

The students in the Olympiad teams got a chance to speak with County Council members about their projects that led them to first and second place finishes and a Spirit award.

“I made a bottle rocket and launched it. It took many, countless hours to practice,” said fifth-grader Talen Macugay. “It feels good because it feels like all your hard work is paying off instead of it all feeling like it’s going to waste.”

Lauryn Hashimoto, a fourth-grader, focused on “Science Skechers,” an experimental design where she learned the ins and outs of scientific theory and the periodic table during her project.

“It feels amazing,” Lauryn said. “We know that we made a difference, we did something good, you know? My favorite part was working together with my team and just being there at the competition.”

Natsumi Yamasato, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teacher and Science Olympiad Coach, said it was their first year competing, so they had to learn on the fly.

“We didn’t know what to teach, but this is really amazing … it was a real team effort,” Yamasato said. “And the students, they worked really hard. Our goal is not to place in first or second place, our goal is to learn how to work in a team.”

Winning first and second place in the competition was an impressive feat and wasn’t lost on councilmember Arryl Kaneshiro.

“First and second place? You guys never gave other schools any chance, ah?” Kaneshiro said to the students.

But the common theme amongst the students wasn’t individual glory or praise: It was about team effort.

“My favorite part was working with my team,” said fourth-grader Amalia Abigania. “I’m really excited because this shows us that we worked very hard and it actually paid off.”

Mailani Yamamoto said their success was not a surprise.

“We all supported each other through this so no matter how many mistakes we made, we all supported each other through the competition,” Mailani said.

Even though Yamasato said she didn’t know what she was doing when the Olympiad came around, her students knew that she would help them no matter what they needed.

Natalee Zyskowski, a fifth-grader, said that Yamasato pushed them to achieve, even when they didn’t think they could do it.

“No matter how hard you try, you just have to keep giving more and more until you can’t,” Natalee said. “You just have to stick together as a team.”


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