Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022 |
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Jayson Hawthorne didn’t tell anyone at school why he was going off-island last month, but his destination was the Hawaii State Supreme Courtroom on Oahu.
It was the first time the 16-year-old from Wailua had ever been inside a courtroom, but it was for a good reason — he was being recognized as one of the winners of the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission’s student essay contest.
“I wouldn’t want to be in that courtroom for any bad reason,” Jayson said, “but going there and seeing it and meeting everyone was really cool.”
Jayson and his mother, Denise Hawthorne, joined The Hawaii Access to Justice Commission on Oct. 29 for their 2015 Pro Bono Celebration. Various lawyers from across the state were in attendance, as well as judges, legislators and Gov. David Ige.
“This was the third year that they’ve held the essay contest, and it was the first year that the governor made an appearance,” Denise said. “That was really special. “
Jayson, a Kapaa High School junior, said he and his family have made a point to start working on scholarship applications for college, and that is why he applied for the essay contest.
“I won a $500 scholarship and every little bit helps,” Jayson said. “We’re making this our new hobby until I graduate.”
It was the scholarship that Jayson was after. He didn’t even know that there was a trip to Oahu involved, but he said getting off-island was a great bonus.
“I didn’t even know that I had the chance to go to the Supreme Court when I wrote the essay,” Jayson said.
The essay contest asked students to write about how and why they volunteer in their community and how they get their friends to jump on board with giving back. More than 240 essays were submitted by public and private high school students grades 10 through 12.
“Because they’re a Pro Bono group, they’re really trying to get the next generation to focus on giving back to the community,” Denise said, “and they picked students who volunteered outside of regular school activities.”
Jayson’s pet volunteer project is a grassroots effort he dubbed, “Play it Forward.” Through the project, he collects used cleats, shin guards and other sports equipment to distribute to kids on Kauai, and around the world.
“We first were focused on Africa and getting cleats to kids in Africa,” Jayson said.
The effort expanded, however, and Jayson is collecting gear for his fellow islanders.
Sandra Combs, one of Jayson’s teachers, said she was proud of him, but that his recognition was a surprise for her.
“I didn’t even know that he submitted the essay or won anything until after he was back,” Combs said. “But that’s Jayson, he’s humble and stays under the radar.”
Because Jayson is a junior, Combs said now is the perfect time to start filling out scholarship applications, and that he’s right on track.
Though he’s on a mission to piece together the money for a college education, Jayson admitted the paperwork can be daunting.
“I just keep remembering that I’m doing this for my future and for my family,” Jayson said.
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