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Discovering what’s in the pizza box

KAPA‘A — Why does it take more than one person to deliver a pizza box?

Jolynn Galiza, the restaurant manager for the Hawai‘i Pizza Hut Kapa‘a branch, got help from two of the eatery’s associates to deliver a special pizza box to the Kapa‘a Library, Wednesday afternoon.

But it was not just a delivery, as inside the box was a special gift for Kendra Vega, a patron of the Kapa‘a Library and a seventh grader at Kapa‘a Middle School.

Vega had just finished her first day of school and in the company of her mother, Chantal Omo, had come to select more books from the library when the delivery arrived.

When the lid of the pizza box was opened, Vega was speechless. Instead of a pizza, there was a letter notifying her that she was the winner of a $1,000 shopping spree at the Pearlridge Shopping Center on O‘ahu.

The shopping spree was the grand prize in the 2008 Hawai‘i Pizza Hut and Hawai‘i State Public Library System Teen Summer Reading “Back to School Shopping Spree” sweepstakes, and according to Lani Kawahara, librarian at the Kapa‘a Library, Vega was selected from a field of 3,000 entries.

This was a fitting end to the first day of school for Vega, and the seventh grader remained searching for words as her mother said this was the first contest Kendra has ever won.

Joining Vega, Kelly Kay, another seventh grader at Kapa‘a Middle School, was presented with an iPod Shuffle by State Librarian Richard Burns who was accompanied to the presentation by Kaua‘i Board of Education member Maggie Cox.

Cox, a former educator and principal, could relate to the elation felt by the two middle school students.

“This is the kind of support the Department of Education can really use,” Cox said. “But it’s also a great opportunity to recognize the roles parents play in educating students.”

Parents are the ones who encourage students to read. Parents are the force behind students signing up for summer reading programs and other programs, Cox said.

“Without the parents, students wouldn’t be reading as well as they do,” she said.

As Kelly accepted her iPod prize from Burns, her younger sister Frances looked on with her parents Kevin and Shannon Kay.

“Frances has two more years before she can be in the program,” Shannon said. “She’s still in elementary school and this program was for teens.”

The Hawai‘i State Public Library System conducts the only statewide reading program in the nation for teens, a press release from the Hawai‘i State Public Library states.

About 3,000 teens who took part in this year’s HSPLS Teen Summer Reading program were eligible to enter the sweepstakes which was won by Vega.

An iPod prize was appropriate for the theme of this year’s program titled “iRead” which highlighted books and information about technology, innovation and ingenuity.

During the program which was open to teens entering the seventh grade in the fall through graduating high school seniors, the participants collectively read approximately 25,000 books, the release states.

Galiza, who brought the delivery to the library, is no stranger to literacy programs as she related how John Cox used to bring students to Pizza Hut as a reward for literacy programs he ran while he was an educator.

“Pizza Hut also bought the first bookmobile for the island,” Galiza told both Richards and Cox.

Hawai‘i Pizza Hut, a staunch supporter of literary efforts, has been the corporate sponsor for this popular teen reading program for the past 16 years.

Each branch library received 10 Summer Reading Pizza Award certificates for lucky drawing prizes from Hawai‘i Pizza Hut.

Additionally, Hawai‘i Pizza Hut will be flying Vega and her mother to O‘ahu where they will be picked up in a limousine along with the second- and third-prize winners.

Tia Bryant, who registered at the McCulley-Moiliili Public Library, and Jeremy Brouard, a patron at the Kailua Public Library, will receive sprees of $500 and $250, respectively.

But the joy of winning was not restricted to Vega and her classmate, as Kawahara remembers a similar presentation to a young boy when she opened the Princeville Public Library back in 1999.

“That was my first library, and my first state winner,” Kawahara said. “This is my second library, and now I have my second state winner.”

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