Jarrett Helm, a fourth-grader in Mrs. Carson's class at Kaneohe Elementary School, captured the grandeur of the Koolaus in his winning poster, on display at the state Capitol through Jan. 4.
Kaneohe's youngest residents share what is special about living in their town
There's a little set of treasures in the chambers of the state Capitol. They're not of the razzle-dazzle sort; there are no sparkles or bells and whistles. To the casual observer, these "gems" are simply 10 posters painted by schoolchildren, nothing more, nothing less. But for folks in Kaneohe, the humble collection represents a bright promise of the future.
The works, created by students of Kaneohe and Puohala elementary schools, are the best of some 400 entries from six Windward Oahu schools that express all the reasons why Kaneohe is a great place to live. The contest was part of the "Celebrate Kaneohe" project, a yearlong series of events organized by the Ko'olaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club and dozens of community groups and individuals, to celebrate the history and heritage of the town.
Janae Naka, a first-grader at Puohala Elementary School, says of her painting, "Dad and I are swimming at a beach in Kaneohe. I float on his back and swim with him."
State Sen. Jill Tokuda, who represents the district, dovetailed her STAR (Senator Tokuda's Art Review) Program with the project to create the poster contest.
"These works highlight the artistic talent on the Windward side," Tokuda said. "The Senate has been having so many special sessions, I thought why not put art on the walls to share with my colleagues how our young people connect with their community."
Tokuda started the STAR program to support the arts in her area because "I could see that some of the enrichment that helped us as children in school, unfortunately, has been given less and less (priority) with all the focus on test scores and No Child Left Behind."
Plus, "Art is for all ages."
The Kaneohe student posters will hang on the chamber walls through Jan. 4. Other winning works are on display at the Windward District office and at King Intermediate School, where all 50 entries from the school are exhibited.
Tokuda said there's a special culture in Kaneohe, and folks there have an especially strong connection to their community.
"It's a feel, a way of life," she said. "The poster contest was one of the ways to involve the younger (residents) in celebrating what it is that makes Kaneohe special."
Third-grader Tyler Ebisuya's drawing of "the beautiful scenery of Kaneohe Bay from my back yard." Ebisuya attends third grade at Kaneohe Elementary School.
Puohala's Kaylee Craft, a student in Evelyn Oshima's second-grade class, depicts the waterfalls along the Koolaus.