The forerunner of the CHamoru Language Competition was the All-Island Secondary Schools Competition that was held for nine years at the University of Guam’s former College of Arts and Sciences now named the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. The All-Island Secondary Schools Competition, headed by the college’s Modern Languages Program involved the middle and high public and private schools on Guam. The languages featured the skills of students in CHamoru, French, German, Japanese and Spanish. The All-Island Secondary Schools Competition in its ninth year ended in 2001 under the chairmanship of CHamoru language assistant instructor Peter R. Onedera who also chaired the previous eighth annual competition.
During a two-year hiatus, attempts to revive the all-island competition failed and Onedera decided to pursue the competition with just the CHamoru language. The first competition was launched in 2004 as a part of the annual Charter Day observance of the University of Guam. For that first competition with over four hundred students, five schools competed in the middle school category while five schools competed in the high school category. For the first time, schools from the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas joined in with representation from Tinian Elementary, Marianas High and Rota High. The competition has now regularly included schools from these islands and at the same time has also become an annual event in conjunction with the University of Guam’s Charter Day.
The genres in the All-Island Secondary Competition were proficiency, dramatic presentation, song and dance and poetry recitation. Onedera expanded the genres in the CHamoru Language Competition to include oratorical, chant, choral reading, essay for the middle schools and the high school male and female singing. Unlike the all-island competitions, an annual theme was also incorporated into the CHamoru competitions.
For the fifth competition in 2008, elementary schools were added and they competed in the genres of spelling, storytelling, drawing and choir with two divisions, that of grades kindergarten to second and grades third to fifth. For the first time in the history of the competition, the first Catholic School participated and that was Mt. Carmel School in Agat.
At the 6th competition on March 10, 2009, the island of Tinian sent its first non-denominational school, that of Grace Christian Academy in the middle school division. The school's representatives captured the gold medal in oratorical, an individual event; a silver in the essay and a gold in the choral reading genre which is a group event. In addition, Guam's archdiocesan Catholic school system added another school to its roster of participants, that of Saint Anthony which captured two drawing golds and one silver respectively and a bronze medal in the children's choir.
It is hoped that future competitions will involve the non-denominational schools on Guam and additional ones from the CNMI, the Department of Defense Domestic Dependants Elementary and Secondary Schools and that of mainland CHamoru organizations who continue to instill pride in the culture and the perpetuation of the CHamoru language among its children.
The event now involve university students enrolled during the semester in the CHamoru language classes, judges who are pillars of the CHamoru speaking community in both Guam and the CNMI as well as with grant support from the Guam Visitors Bureau's Cultural Heritage and Community Outreach program and the Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency. Previously, monetary support was also received from notable civic and business entities.
Event founder, Assistant Professor Peter R. Onedera may be contacted for additional information at 671-735-2808, by cellphone at 671-486-3210 or at his home at 671-477-4234 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.