His hands tremble. His black hair snakes down the middle of his back. He sucks in a deep breath.
Vasaifanua Hansell has prepared all day and skipped school to practice the words of a language he barely knows.
But he's still "terrified."
The language is Samoan. He must get it right. It's his people's national anthem.
He'll be in front of his classmates at Martin Middle School. More importantly, he'll be performing for Samoa's entire rugby team. He really must get it right.
The team adopted his school for the year leading up to this weekend's USA Sevens International Rugby Tournament of 16 teams, coming from Japan, Uruguay, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa and more.
Each team adopted a Clark County public school, and students studied the culture of their team's nation in preparation for pep rallies this week.
The Wednesday pep rally is Hansell's chance to be an ambassador for Samoa, "prove it to everybody" that he's not Hawaiian, which many of his friends think is the same thing.
"Sa-- what?" friends confusedly ask when he tells them he's Samoan. "To them it's just a big name with big people. 'Oh, the Hawaiians.' "
Hansell's shaking won't stop.
It works its way from his hands and hair into his voice as he begins, "Samoa, tula'i ma sisi ia lau fu'a, lou pale lea!" meaning "Samoa, arise and raise your flag, your crown!"
The standing team of square-jawed, broad shouldered behemoths aren't supposed to join in, but they do, taking pressure off the eighth-grade student.
"Samoa, arise: Your flag is waving, your crown!" the song ends.
The hundreds of students scream and holler, beginning the pep rally for their new school team.
Martin Middle School cheerleaders perform a Samoan cheer, and boys do a haka, which is a traditional ancestral war cry of choreographed chants, chest pounding, stomps and elbow punches.
Hansell leads the group, looking at his grandma behind the crowd of students in Samoan skirts (called elavalavas) for approval after he finishes.
She smiles. She came to America from Samoa -- a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean -- in 1982 with her eight children.
The rugby team then performs its haka of similar movements.
"The boys got a shot when the kids tried to perform their dances and songs," Samoa's head coach Stephen Betham said. "It's eye-opening that kids this side of the world are trying to imitate them."
That excitement about a foreign culture is just what Martin Middle School, an International Baccalaureate school stressing international education, is after for its students, said Spanish teacher Liza Morales, who led the school's Samoan efforts leading up to the rally.
"It's about the world and how we fit into it," Morales said, mentioning that some students of the school, near U.S. Highway 95 and Eastern Avenue, have never left the neighborhood.
"For some, going to Eastern and Flamingo (Road) is out of their comfort zone."
For 60 students, the experience won't end at the pep rally. They will be watching the tournament from the field this weekend.
The students were picked because of their involvement in Samoan art projects, dances and an essay contest.
But students didn't want the rally to end.
"Unfortunately, this is the end of our program," Morales said an hour into the rally after school.
The hundreds of students let out a disappointed, "Uhhh."
Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at email@example.com or 702-383-0279.