Monday, November 1, 1999

‘Leaders for a
Day’ air views

Grade-school winners of a
state essay contest have
ideas for our isles

By Pat Omandam


If Scott Nozaki of Waiakea Elementary School were governor for a day, he would improve Hawaii's beaches and the educational system.

Chris Sheehey of Pahoa High and Intermediate would build a state-of-the-art stadium and legalize gambling.

And Ann Weaver of Sacred Hearts Academy would organize Hawaii's youth and help the homeless.

While all three won't be seeking elective office anytime soon, they and other students got a taste of state and county governments last week by shadowing elected officials as winners of the 1999 Hawaii Leaders for a Day contest.

The contest, sponsored by Hawaii Medical Service Association, was part of Children and Youth month in October. Contestants from grades 5 to 12 submitted an essay on the topic "If I were governor, the three things I would do to help improve Hawaii would be ..."

Gov. Ben Cayetano said the contest provides good experience and better appreciation by students of some of the nuances of being a government leader. Still, Weaver -- who was governor for a day -- seems to have a good grasp of the big picture in Hawaii, based on her essay.

"Hawaii isn't perfect, just like any other state," said Weaver, a junior, as she read her essay to the governor and others Thursday.

"The economy is struggling; many young people are moving away to the mainland; homeless people are living in parks and the airports; and our education system needs improvement."

Other contest winners are Erin Kimura, ninth grade, Castle High; Sheehey, eighth grade, Pahoa High; Nicole Wilke, seventh grade, Kauai Arts and Science Academy; Kaitlin Luther, seventh grade, Kalama Intermediate; Kelli M.L. Koga, seventh grade, Kawananakoa Middle School; and Nozaki, fifth grade, Waiakea Elementary.

Aside from spending a day with an elected official, the students each received a $100 U.S. Savings Bond and a certificate of achievement.

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