LIHUE — Peace and joy is all the world needs, said Javin Hennessy, a third-grade student at the Hanalei Elementary School, Monday evening at the St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.
Hennessy was named the Kauai winner of the 16th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Poem competition which was open to all the schools on the island and sponsored by the International Peace Poem Project.
“Martin Luther would be so pleased,” Hennessy’s poem reads. “Find the kind you want to see throughout the world deep in me. Peace is everywhere you can see. The dream flows through you and me. Hopes and joy go through the land, follow the teachings of this great man.”
Hennessy said penning the poem was not a hard task.
“At the time, I was sick,” he said. “I was recovering and my heart was open, full of hope and love. The words just came out. Martin Luther King was a great man.”
Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. was proud of the achievements of all of the 32 island finalists, but especially of Hennessy.
“While I walked over, I thought about how this ties in with being a parent, a student and a teacher,” Carvalho said. “The three important things I always talk about are faith, hope, and love.”
Melinda Gohn, International Peace Poem coordinator, said this is the first time Kauai has had a third-grade student win grand prize honors, and only the third one in the state since the poem contest started.
Finalists from the participating schools, including Eleele Elementary School, Koloa Elementary School, Hanalei Elementary School, Kapaa Elementary School, Kilauea Elementary School, and Island School gathered to read their award-winning poems before an audience of nearly 200 people.
“This all started with one person — Martin Luther King,” said Kauai County Council member JoAnn Yukimura. “Tonight, we celebrate the power of poetry and poets who express a common desire that is in each of us.”
Following Hennessy, Hanna Wamsley, a fifth-grade student from Kilauea Elementary School, was named the finalist selected from the seven finalists named to the Golden Circle for their poetic excellence.
Chloe Hannsz, a second-grade student from Kilauea Elementary School, was third place.
Students named to the Kauai 2015 Golden Circle include Lashya Masuda (Koloa), Mele Pahulu (Kapaa El), Kilinoe Brown (Kilauea), and Julia Randolph-Flagg of Island School.
Katelyn Constantino and Kamalani Gandeza were the finalists representing Eleele School. Koloa School finalists include Makena Jimenez, Daelin Grace, Kristian Bran, Lea Ramos, Lashya Masuda, Lee Avery Pagador. Hanalei School finalists under the direction of Brent Andrews, named as Teacher of the Year, include Hennessy and Slayden Pack.
Mele Pahulu and Cheysen Hirashima are on the finalists list for Kapaa Elementary.
Kilauea School, with winners being placed from first through fifth grades, had the most students in the house, including Elizabeth Padre, Zarea Burwell, Sam Pangdan, Alana Evers, Chloe Hannsz, Cian Jebens, Heimata Vaiho, Titus Schweitzer, Jaden Duran, Shyloh McCann, Kulia Kaleiohi, Kaleilani Pasadava, Kilinoe Brown, Seneca Lathrop, Hanna Wamsley, Anthony Gallego.
Julia Randolph-Flagg, Gabrielle M. LaFratta, Rebecca Rose Stevens and Jade Ireland Murphy are the 10th and 11th grade finalists from Island School.