(TACOMA, Wa.) — Fifita Lotulelei, the Taupou representing the United Pacific Islanders Impact claimed the best Taualuga prize in the 4th Annual Samoan Arts & Academics Competition.
Along with the honour, UPII's Taupou received a $100 prize from Miss American Samoa 2004 Trixy Taua Petaia, a competition judge.
"I am beyond proud of these kids who have shown not only pride in their culture and identity but have also excelled in academics," Petaia told tautalatala. "I see these kids in our community in Washington state. They are excellent role models who show pride and respect."
UPII, led by Sia Gin Soni Lotulelei includes students from these high schools: Mt. Rainier, Eastside Catholic, O'Dea, Evergreen, Garfield, Renton, Auburn Mountainview and Pacific Middle School.
Petaia, from Faga'alu, American Samoa, holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology and a minor in Biochemistry. She currently serves as a Case Manager for the Pierce County Department of Aging and Disability.
"I serve and assist over 100 elderly and disabled Samoan clients," Petaia said.
"I give credit to the organizers, counselors, teachers and all the students and parents who have tirelessly sacrificed their time to make this event a SUCCESS. It will get bigger every year."
Students from 41 schools competed in five teams. Lumana'i o le Pasifika, led by Mane T. Tuiaana, retained the Overall Champions Honour.
Petaia is one of five, leaders in Washington's Pacific Islander community, who sat on the judges' panel for the SAAC, held Saturday, May 5 at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall.