Art Contest Winners Capture ‘Puna Strong’

December 8, 2019, 4:53 PM HST
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High school students from across Puna channeled their experiences during and after last year’s Kīlauea eruption to find inspiration, creating original artwork to symbolize what it means to them be “Hawai‘i Island and Puna Strong.”

Six of those students were announced as winners in the Nā ‘Ōpio o Puna Art Contest during meeting of the Hawai‘i County Council in Hilo on Wednesday, Dec. 4. The contest was organized by Hawai‘i County’s Kīlauea eruption recovery team and its partners.

“They dug down deep and they reflected on how the Kīlauea eruption impacted them, their families and their community,” said Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz. “But beyond that, they wanted to celebrate what they feel makes Puna and Hawai‘i Island strong.”

The winners are:

  • Jubilee Nelson Drakee of Hawai‘i Academy of Arts and Science (first place)
  • Cayla Peat of Hawai‘i Academy of Arts and Science (second place)
  • Janelle Chang of Pāhoa High School (third place)
  • Tara Davis of Hawai‘i Academy of Arts and Science, Travis Chai-Andrade of Kamehameha Schools and Serenity Waiki of Pāhoa Intermediate School (honorable mentions)

Each student is awarded an individual development account (IDA) with Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA) in amounts of $250 for honorable mentions, $500 for third place, $750 for second place and $1,000 for first place, according to a Hawai‘i County Kīlauea eruption recovery team press release.


The top three winners and their families also receive a one-night stay at the Grand Naniloa Hotel, courtesy of the hotel.


An IDA is a restricted matched savings account often used for university expenses, career training or entrepreneurial opportunities. The contest IDAs are sponsored by Tetra Tech, SSFM International, Hawai‘i Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development and HCA.

The students will work with HCA to determine the parameters of their savings goals.

Winners were determined by a selection committee consisting of Kierkiewicz, Puna Councilman Matt Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder, Recovery Officer Douglas Le, Pāhoa High School alumnus and University of Hawaii at Hilo student Keinan Agonias, and Puna Action Committee Vice-Chair Franny Brewer.


“Today, you should have a little bit more confidence in proceeding through life and in being part of your community,” commented Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder.

The County will use this contest to explore an expanded pilot program to build financial resilience across Puna through financial education and savings opportunities for students and their ‘ohana, the release said.

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