Finalist on 'Idol' lived on Kauai until 2000
Most fans of Fox network's "American Idol" recognize current finalist Sanjaya Malakar, 17, as the youngest male left in the competition.
Or they recognize Malakar as the guy who cried when his sister, Shyamali, 19, was eliminated as the group of hopefuls was narrowed to 40 singers.
Some Kauai residents, however, remember the Malakars from their days on the Garden Isle. The Indian-American family spent four years on Kauai prior to moving to Federal Way, Wash., in 2000.
Shyamali and Sanjaya were already talented singers during their time on Kauai, even though they had not yet hit their teen years, said Debra Blachowiak, of Hawaii Children's Theater.
The two often performed in the theater's plays, and their mother, Jill Recchi, was on the board.
"We totally support Sanjaya and are rooting for him all the way," Blachowiak said.
Over at Island School in Puhi, members of the junior class also remember Sanjaya and have been heating up the phone lines in support of their former classmate as well, said Island School Principal Robert Springer.
"They're incredibly talented," Springer said of the Malakar siblings, and "extremely good students."
Connie Kakalia, Sanjaya's second-grade teacher, said she is not even a fan of the TV show. But she has been tuning in every week to check out her former pupil and voting for him as well.
"It's so exciting to see someone (you know well)," she added.
Kakalia said Sanjaya and Shyamali were never "shy to get up and sing."
Sanjaya was, as Blachowiak said, "skewered" by "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell on Tuesday's show, but he still made it through to the next round in last night's results show.