KOLOA — Excitement filled the air as students in the third, fourth and fifth grades of Koloa Elementary School crowded into a tiny classroom.
Melinda Gohn, International Peace Poem coordinator of Maui, clutched her materials as she watched students and parents crowd into the classroom.
Gohn announced the two selected poets from the school’s third, fourth and fifth grades, capping the presentation with the naming of Special Education teacher Enjoli’ Rapozo-Hoskins as the International Peace Poem’s Kaua‘i Teacher of the Year.
“The most gratifying part of this project has been the contributions of students in the schools,” Gohn said on the International Peace Poem website. “In many schools, especially throughout the United States, from Alaska to Hawai‘i, we have seen teachers take on the Peace Poem as a class project, teachers noting students feel a personal sense of accomplishment in being a part of this worldwide project.”
Koloa School principal Debbie Lindsey said Gohn, in addition to presenting the winners and Kaua‘i Teacher of the Year, was also scheduled to make other stops at schools, including an afternoon presentation at Kilauea Elementary School.
Koloa School winners included Kai Norman and Kendall Van Gieson from third grade, Quinlan Cano and Briana Silva-Lancaster from fourth grade, and Aukai Kaupu-Kaneholani and Wailana Carineo-Pascua from fifth grade.
When Rapozo-Hoskins was named Teacher of the Year, the students lost little time unveiling a variety of congratulatory lei, lining up to congratulate their teacher who inspired them to create haiku, most of the winners selecting the sea and ocean as a source of peace.
“Her teaching excellence is evident from the poetry submitted by her three SPED classes as well as her leadership and efficiency in arranging for student awards at Koloa School,” Gohn said in a letter to Lindsey.
Under a lesson plan for peace created by Rae Takemoto, a teacher at the Kula Elementary School on Maui, the goal is to inspire creativity in a peaceful way by writing a poem inspired by the individual’s thoughts on peace, according to the Peace Poem website.
The International Peace Poem was presented symbolically to the United Nations on Millenium Peace Day, Sept. 19, 2000, and Gohn said the winning poems from Koloa School will be added to a collection she will present to the United Nations later this year during a scheduled visit.
State Sen. Ron Kouchi, D-Kaua‘i, Ni‘ihau, furnished the certificates of honor presented to each of the announced winners. Maui artists Davo Sherman and Monte Perez created the special piece which was presented to Rapozo-Hoskins as the Kaua‘i Teacher of the Year.
The International Peace Poem is an all-volunteer, non-governmental organization supported entirely by donations.
Visit www.peacepoem.org or contact Gohn at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.