‘Peace begins with me’

ELEELE — At Eleele School Friday, a foster child pulled the attention of kindergartners toward creating a paper crane, or tsuru, from a peace poster that read “Peace begins with me.”

“Peace means loving,” said Kaenon Torres, a fourth-grader at the school. “Peace is aloha. And mahalo.”

The Eleele School fourth-grade class is spearheading an effort to fold 1,000 paper cranes in observance of the International Day of Peace on Thursday.

“They’ve already reached the goal,” said Gerald Hirata of the Kauai Soto Zen Temple, one of the community leaders for the free event which will blanket Hanapepe on the day designated by the United Nations General Assembly to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

Hirata said everyone is welcome to Pledge for Peace.

The Eleele School students will have an event at the Kauai Soto Zen Temple from 9 to 11 a.m.

“During the day, from noon until the program starts at 5:30 p.m., visitors are encouraged to stop by and make a pledge for peace, fold paper cranes, and enjoy a cool drink under the tent,” Hirata said. “Everyone is encouraged to wear a ‘Pledge for Peace’ button.”

Ahead of the formal program, which takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the students will gather at the Storybook Theatre of Hawaii on Hanapepe Road, home of Sparky’s Garden, where they will march to the World Peace statue located at the Kauai Soto Zen Temple on Kaumualii Highway in Hanapepe and join other students in placing paper cranes and pledges for peace around the statue.

Sparky’s Place is named for Kauai native and former U.S. Sen. Sparky Matsunaga, a lifelong proponent of world peace.

The celebration of peace continues the legacy of two Hanapepe residents whose visions for peace left an indelible mark in our community, Hirata said.

Matsunaga attended Eleele School and Kauai High School, was a proponent of peaceful resolution of disputes and is the founder of the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.

The Rev. Koichi Miyoshi was a resident minister of the Kauai Soto Zen Temple from 1971 to 1998. He envisioned a symbol of peace where people would pledge that there would be no war and could pray for peace and remember all who gave their lives in the pursuit of peace.

He spearheaded the effort to erect the World Peace Kannon marble statue on the church grounds in 1991 because he felt that Kauai, with its beauty and tranquility, was the perfect setting for the statue.

Entertainment will include hula, taiko performances, and students sharing stories of peace with Mark Jeffers of the Storybook Theatre and Hirata.

“I am Kauai,” states a poem penned by Kiana Rita, an Eleele School fourth-grader. “I am the oceans and mountains; I am the sunsets; I share aloha every single day; I am Kauai.”

The poem was placed within a poster inspired by artist Carol Yotsuda, who pulled pigments from Kauai’s earth and put it all together as a collage.

Guest speaker for the evening is state Senate President Ron Kouchi, also a Westside native. All donations will benefit the Eleele School fourth-grade class, which is planning an excursion to the Big Island.

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