A message from the first lady

ELEELE — A fifth-grader at Eleele Elementary School received a handwritten letter.

No big deal, right?

Wrong.

This particular letter came from first lady Michelle Obama.

Kayana Niheu-Kamaka, an 11-year-old student of Ms. Carol Crouch’s reading class, received a letter from Mrs. Obama on Wednesday in response to a letter Kayana sent the first lady six weeks ago as part of a class assignment.

“Mrs. Obama read the letter carefully and responded to everything she asked her about,” said Mrs. Crouch. “It was a very thoughtful note.”

Kayana said she asked Mrs. Obama if she liked school as a girl, and how she lives her life and if it was fun to be the president’s wife. She also asked Mrs. Obama how to become a good leader and perhaps, how to become president someday.

“She told me that I should reach my goals and achieve what I want to do in school and anywhere else,” Kayana said. “She said that I should take my education very seriously and prepare myself for the future.”

Mrs. Crouch said all 22 students in the reading class studied stories from “Trophies,” a book that talked about Rosa Parks and other people in history all around the world that serve as role models for others.

The other 21 classmates were excited about Kayan’s letter. Others wrote to President Obama, several professional baseball players, parents, and even fourth-grade teacher Bernard Riola.

“They wrote to anyone they saw as a role model to ask them how they want to live their life,” Crouch said. “They were all nice letters and some got immediate responses and some had to wait a little longer for their response.”

This is the second year of the letter project. Crouch said that a student in last year’s class also wrote to Mrs. Obama and her office sent back a form letter with glossy photos. The class didn’t expect anything different this year — but Kayana said she believed that she’d hear from the first lady, and has already written a follow up letter.

Kayan is the oldest daughter of Kimo and Miriam Kamaka. She has five younger brothers and starts sixth grade next year at Waimea Middle School. She enjoys all of her subjects but especially mathematics, art and poetry. Her favorite poet is the late Sheldon Allan “Shel” Silverstein.

Dear Kayana,

You sound like an amazing young lady. Thank you for taking the time to write to me.

The best thing you can do right now to be a leader is to prepare yourself for leadership. This means that you have to take your education very seriously.

When I was your age, I knew that it was my job to get the most out of my education. So no matter what was going on around me, I focused on class; I worked hard every single day. I found teachers to help me when I needed it.

As a result, I was able to go to college and develop the skills needed to raise a family and help others. But you have to remember that you are the only one responsible for your success. Get your education and the rest will come. Also, remember that I am proud of you and I believe that, with hard work, you can do anything you set your mind to!

Warmly,

Michelle Obama

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