Matteo Romero wins statewide essay contest

  • Submitted by Frances Dinnan

    Matteo Romero’s teacher at Kalaheo School is Crystal Kalauawa.

KALAHEO — Matteo Romero, a fourth-grader at Kahaleo School, is the county and state winner in the annual Kaua‘i Association for Family and Community Education’s 2020 Character Counts! essay and art contest.

This is the third year in a row a Kaua‘i student has won statewide honors in the contest.

Romero’s work will represent Hawai‘i’s fourth-graders on the national level, and will be judged in July by the National Association for Family and Community Education.

“Respect” is this year’s essay and art contest theme. Kaua‘i fourth-graders were tasked with describing in words and pictures ways in which we treat others with respect by following the “Golden Rule;” demonstrate tolerance and acceptance of differences; use good manners, not bad language; be considerate of others’ feelings; how to not threaten, hit nor hurt anyone; and how to deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements.

Second place went to Brooke Hashimoto of Wilcox Elementary School, and Koa Rine of Kapa‘a Elementary took third place. Honorable mentions went to Alina Evanoff, Myron B. Thompson Academy (home-schooled), Ka‘imilani Miyasato, Wilcox Elementary, and Princess Sabirano, King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School.

KAFCE received 62 entries from 12, fourth-grade teachers. The award ceremony and luncheon were canceled due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Each winner was mailed their respective awards, which included monetary awards, certificates of accomplishment, booklets with stories and activities, yarn lei, and stuffed animals “Icky” the parrot.

The KAFCE, a community-based, nonprofit organization of volunteers who support family literacy, leadership and community action, sponsored the 2020 Character Counts! contest.

The Character Counts! movement reaches about 8 million young people nationwide.

Initially, the program focused on the development of core ethical traits — trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship (known as “The Six Pillars of Character”).

This program establishes a student’s foundation while promoting a positive school climate, mindfulness, growth mindset, and behavioral change. It began as a partnership with Family and Community Education and the Josephson Institute. Michael Josephson, a law professor, founded the Josephson Institute in 1987 and, upon his retirement in 2019, The Ray Center at Drake University has become the home to Character Counts!

For more information, contact Carolynn Lum, KAFCE vice president, 246-0004.

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