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8th grader eyes career in computer programming

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Stella Brockman School eighth grader and champion speller James Quiaoit, Jr., shown with his grandmother Marcy Quiaoit, holds his Spelling Bee trophy and certificate of achievement from Manteca Uni...


POSTED February 18, 2014 1:05 a.m.

Edna Quiaoit was doing some spring cleaning in the kitchen. Suddenly, she heard a voice behind her asking a question.

 “Mommy, what is two?”

She turned around and saw her son pointing at the timer in the oven. Instead of answering her son’s query, its implication not sinking in right away, “I continued sweeping the floor,” she recalled.

Suddenly, a thought occurred to her: “If he can tell numbers, what else does he know? Can he read?”

She quickly walked up to the refrigerator door covered with several decorative magnetic letters and, grabbing three at a time, formed a few simple words which her son was quick to read without difficulty and without any prodding.

Astounded at that unexpected discovery, all Quiaoit could think of was, “He can read! Oh, my gosh, he can read!”

Until that day, she and her husband thought their two-year-old’s speech was a bit delayed. He was never a loquacious child and, up until that time, never gave any inkling about his speaking and reading abilities. But he did impress his parents when he started walking at eight months.

At age four, he quickly became the favorite of her Parks and Recreation Preschool teacher, a student at Manteca High, letting him read in front of the class. He always brought books to the two-hour sessions which he shared with the other children.

The twelve-year-old is now an eighth grader at Stella Brockman Elementary School and is still enamored and fascinated with words. He proved that again this year by his sterling performance in the annual Spelling Bee competition. He was one of the top winners at the San Joaquin County level and has claimed the distinct honor of representing Manteca Unified and the San Joaquin County of Education to the State Spelling Bee competitions to be held on May 3 at Miller Creek School in San Rafael. He will be competing in the seventh- to ninth-grade category.

James Quiaoit, Sr. said he and his wife recognized that the older of their two children “at an early age, had the potential to learn really fast – from walking, talking to reading.

“He was really involved at an early age. We didn’t treat him like a four-year-old. We treated him like an adult. We talked to him like I’m talking to you. He always had the initiative to challenge himself, and one of them was the spelling bee. He was really good at it.”

This is the second year in a row the Dolphins’ eighth grader has earned the honor of being one of the school district’s top spellers.

He excels in other areas as well besides spelling. He was in the school band for a couple of years playing the trombone. He is also learning golf from his father who works for the state lottery in Sacramento.

“He is into golf now,” and learning not just the joy of the game but valuable lessons in sportsmanship and teamwork as well, “and he likes that,” said Quiaoit, Sr. whose wife is an architect working for an architectural firm in the Bay Area.

Even as the younger Quiaoit prepares for his eighth-grade graduation in June, Stella Brockman’s top speller has already made a head-start toward his high school education at Sierra High where he will be attending in the fall. Before he starts classes at his school, he goes to Sierra High where he is taking Spanish 2 and 3 classes which goes from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.

But although he excels as a wordsmith and a speller, James, Jr. said he would like to pursue a career in computer programming someday.

“I’ve always liked computers ever since I was three years old. I enjoy it a lot,” said the 13-year-old who speaks with the disarming manner of someone who is much older than his tender years.

His proud grandmother, Marcy Quiaoit, said she always make an effort to give her grandson “a lot of encouragement” but “no pressure” as he gets ready for the state spelling bee competitions.

“I’m a bit anxious, but it’s a good challenge for him,” said Marcy who lives with the family. Her late husband, Jose, worked for the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department after finishing his service stint with the U.S. Air Force.

James, Jr. is not the only good speller in the family. Younger sister, Alejandra, who is in seventh grade at Stella Brockman, has also won top berths in the annual spelling bee competitions.


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