LIHUE — Students earned praise and applause at the 18th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Poem Awards at St. Michael’s and All Angels’ Episcopal Church.
“These will become part of the world’s longest poem which, when completed, will be presented to the United Nations,” said Melinda Gohn, awards director. “We started the poem of peace 18 years ago, and it is not completed, yet.”
One of the student winners explained that the longest poem is about war. The poem being worked on by Gohn and her International Peace Poem Project crew will be longer.
Gillian Altman, a Kapaa Middle School seventh grade student under teacher Rene Relacion, was announced the Grand Winner for her composition on “A Boy in Atlanta.”
Relacion, a former Teacher of the Year honoree from the Department of Education, was named Teacher of the Year for the Dr. King Awards for bringing in a number of students to the contest during his first year of being involved with the program as well as placing four first place winners, including Altman who was the Grand Winner.
Martin Luther King’s work is not completed, yet, said JoAnn Yukimura, representing the Kauai County Council. She said the generation of her late Jiro Yukimura, was put behind barbed wire following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
“They were put in camps because of the color of their skin,” Yukimura said. “Today, we see examples of people being restricted because of the color of their skin. Martin Luther King believed and fought for people to be judged on the quality of their character, not by the color of their skin.”
Wally Rezentes, representing Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., said peace is important because of things going on in the world, and by listening to the children, we can see what peace means to them.
Koloa Elementary School Grade 2: Jerrall Yadfinay, Zhara-Lei Corpuz
Grade 3: Kennedy Braun (1), Daniel S. Schmidt (2), David Braman (1), Ella A. Batalucco (2)
Hanalei Elementary School Grade 3: Scarlett McIntosh (1), Kaia Dunford (2), Nicholas A. Collins (1), Noa Keola Castle (2)
Kilauea Elementary School Grade K: Blue Fleming, Siani Olanolan
Grade 1: Eric Hayden (1), Kealii Tolenoa (2), Makaya Heen (1), Tercel Lindsey-Estocado (2), Tavian Kaleiohi (1), Kaylee Moore (2)
Grade 2: Pearl Kinney, Pualea Fleming
Grade 3: Samuel Pangdan (1), EliJah Chavarria-MacConnell (2), Sahara Isabella Zietz (1), Christiama Gaia (2)
Grade 4: Ginger Hilliard (1), Tristen Wunschel (2), Chelsea Santiago (1), Ella Grijalva (2)
Grade 5: Tristan Hannahs (1), Cash Novoa (2), Noah Kostka (1), Isabella Bivens (2)
Kapaa Middle School Grade 7: Gillian Altman (1), Callum Meredith (2), Iyanah Villon (1), Lily Watari (2), Xailea Anderson-Iopa (1), Max Morimoto (2), Richard Cabalona (1), Brody Smith (2)
Kauai High School Grade 10: Kane Casillas, Jennilyn Negrillo
Circle of Eight: Eric Hayden (Kilauea), Jerrall Yadfinay (Koloa), Scarlett McIntosh (Hanalei), Nicholas Collins (Hanalei), Chelsea Santiago (Kilauea), Richard Cabalona (KapMS), Gillian Altman (KapMS), Kane Casillas (KauHS)
Grand Prize: Gillian Altman
Grand Finalist: Kane Casillas