HPA Students Among 25 Selected in Writing Contest

May 26, 2016, 4:48 PM HST
* Updated May 28, 11:58 AM
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my hawaiiTwo Big Island students were among 25 middle schoolers throughout the state to be selected as top winners for their poems and short stories at the annual “My Hawai’i” environmental writing contest.

Students from the sixth through eighth grades were eligible to participate in the contest, which was sponsored by the Pacific Writers’ Connection, the Hawai’i Conservation Alliance, and multiple Hawai’i conservation agencies and organizations.

Sofia Howard and William Wawner, both of Hawai’i Preparatory Academy, were each selected for their pieces “A Spider’s Web” and “The Point of No Return,” respectively.

All 25 stories of the anthology will be distributed to schools and libraries across the state.

“Planet at the Crossroads” was chosen as the theme, to align with the 2016 International Union for the Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress that will be held in Honolulu in September.


The students’ writing represents personal reflections on the environment, cultural values, kuleana, stewardship, and place-based writing which contributes to youth literature that is unique to Hawai‘i.


The My Hawai‘i Story contest provides an educational approach that develops interdisciplinary thinkers. Many of the stories and poems include knowledge from diverse backgrounds and provide good examples of successful collaborations that integrate traditional cultural values and contemporary life in Hawai‘i.

Since the contest began, 250 middle school students have had their stories and poems on the environment published. While academic testing provides a measure of content knowledge, creative writing can capture students’ thoughts, passions, beliefs, and values.

“We are very excited to celebrate our 10th anniversary of this highly successful and inspirational annual children’s writing contest with our haumana (students), the people of Hawai‘i, and with international world conservation leaders who will be gathering in Honolulu for the IUCN World Conservation Congress,” said Takiora Ingram, director of the Pacific Writers’ Connection and main driver of the writing contest. “The 2016 winners will have an opportunity to showcase their poems and stories at the Congress.”


The contest is co-sponsored by the Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance, Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance Foundation, Hawai‘i Department of Education, Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawai‘i Environmental Education Alliance National Park Service, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Hawai‘i Office of Planning, Coastal Zone Management Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. 

The 2016 “My Hawaiʻi” writing contest winners are:

Kaila Apo, Yearning to Be With Them Again, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School

Kalama Arquette, Kuʻu Hawaiʻi Aloha, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School

Draelee Cabinatan, The Monster in Humans, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School

Lexi Cowan, The Legend of Kaimana, Sacred Hearts Academy

Madison Enos, Following in the Footsteps of Our Kūpuna, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School

Pono Estores, Kulāiwi, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School

Levi Fisher, Whoosh, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School

Jordynn Haumea-Harding, He Koho Ka Hawaiʻi, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School

Sofia Howard, A Spider’s Web, Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy

Jason Huynh, Small Choices, Deadly Results, ʻĪao Intermediate School

Gabe Li, Ulu Pono Alu Like, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School

Pono Lupenui, Koʻu Honua: Your Earth, My Earth, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School

Shaylee Mahi, How About Hawaiʻi, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School

Alex Melemai, Restoration of Our Island Nation, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School

Taylor Moniz, Hope for Humanity, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School

Joseph Paci, Everything to Its Proper Place, ʻIao Intermediate School

Onipaʻa Pung, LiFeStYlE, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School

Creighton Purdy, Hōkūleʻa, Kamehameha Schools Maui

Aleina Reyes, ʻŌhiʻa, Kamehameha Schools Maui

Sean Sakamoto, Karaʻs Lesson, Kamehameha Schools Maui

Emily Smith, Voices Of Nature, Hoʻala School

Justice-Lee Vannatta-Kapoi, Mālama i ka ʻĀina, Kamehameha Schools Maui

William Wawner, The Point of No Return, Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy

Kanani Wong, Aloha ʻĀina, Kamehameha Schools Maui

Jonah Keolu Yuen, Guardians of the Moku, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School

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