East Point Academy Students Shine at the Palmetto Chinese Star Competition

Students of East Point Academy participated in the 10th Annual Palmetto Chinese Star competition at the University of South Carolina on Saturday, February 23, taking home first, second and third place awards in the middle division and second and third place awards in the elementary division.

East Point Academy was also recognized with an “Outstanding Organization” award, one of only four awarded among the nearly 20 organizations that participated and the only one not at the collegiate level.

The Palmetto Chinese Star competition, which is the largest of its kind in the state, provides a stage for students in colleges and K-12 schools of South Carolina to compete in the areas of language proficiency, which accounts for 70% of the score, and cultural performance, which is 30% of the score.

East Point also took home top honors with the title of Future Chinese Star, won by seventh grader Saba Pontens-Alemu.

“I love to participate in Palmetto Chinese Star and look forward to it each year because it gives me the opportunity to use what I learned at school in the real world,” said Pontens-Alemu, who performed a puppet show for the language portion of the competition and danced in the cultural part of the competition.

Eleven East Point students in all competed. Other winners included second place winners Ivory Paavola, Mia Rodriguez, Cade Waters and Emily Zheng. Third place awards went to Kasiah Hart, Kendall Givens, Aria Le and Jadon Page. Kate Stover and Shelah Whitney were awarded honorable mentions.

Performances included poetry, calligraphy, storytelling, speech, cello and dance.

“I am so proud of all of our students who competed this past weekend. We are educating globally minded citizens who embrace all cultures,” said East Point Assistant Principal Junlan Li.

This is East Point’s sixth year competing in the Palmetto Chinese Star and its fifth time bringing home the top award.

“East Point Academy provides a rich and rigorous education to the students we serve,” said East Point Head of School Mark Bounds, “Our showing in the competition reinforces that we are equipping our students with the skills they need to succeed in a 21st century job market.”


East Point Academy, founded in 2011, is a globally minded public charter school in West Columbia, S.C., serving over 630 students in preschool through eighth grade. East Point students at the elementary level receive half of their daily instruction in Mandarin Chinese. Middle school students receive approximately 25% of their daily instruction in Mandarin, with placement from novice to advanced levels. The school is tuition free and open to all students in S.C., regardless of their zoned district.

East Point Academy has been voted Best Private or Charter School in Columbia by the readers of the Free Times and the State’s Best Public Charter School by the readers of The State newspaper. It has also been named a top school of 2019 by Niche and a South Carolina Public Charter School District School of Distinction.

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