Boys & Girls Club Youth of Year chosen today

LIHUE — Who will be the Kauai Youth of the Year?

Five of the Kauai Boys & Girls Club students — Kimberly Matutina, Tavia Rapozo, Lexi Freeman, Ben Ludgate and Bryden Ka‘auwai — will be vying for that honor today during a luncheon event aboard the Princess Cruise liner that will be docked at Nawiliwili Harbor.

“This is amazing,” said Tina Albao, the Kauai B&G business manager. “Princess Cruise is offering us the space at no cost.”

The Kauai Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year program also got help from Macy’s who worked with the candidates and provided the outfits the students will wear during the speech phase of the competition.

“Credit should go to Kevin Moriguchi,” said Diane Melchor of Macy’s. “He authorized the outfitting for the youth candidates. We have worked with the Boys & Girls Club with this program for a long time. It is such a gratifying feeling to watch these youth grow to become successful.”

Matutina, a junior at Kauai High School, was ecstatic over her outfit.

“I just love it,” she said. “It’s so beautiful. I like the colors and how everything goes together.”

Leah Nuesca, the Kauai Youth of the Year coordinator, said the five youth have been working for the past several months on developing their presentations, focusing on public speaking and essay writing.

“These teens are enthusiastic and energetic,” Nuesca said. “From the beginning when they started, until now, just days before the Kauai presentation, they have grown a lot — especially in public speaking. When I was in high school, I didn’t even know about Boys & Girls Club. Otherwise, I would have done all of this.”

Rapozo, a freshman at Kauai High School, said the candidates learn interviewing skills, including how to speak and ask and answer questions. During the sessions with Melchor and Macy’s, candidates learn etiquette and poise as well as networking in the community.

The event is the local portion of the Boys & Girls Club of America’s recognition program for club members which was started in 1947. One person will be selected as the National Youth of the Year to serve as an ambassador for all Boys & Girls Club youth.

The journey starts for Kauai candidates Saturday when someone is selected to represent the island at the state presentation.

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