05/25/16 – “My Hawai‘i” 2016 Student Writing Contest Winners Announced; “Planet at the Crossroads” is theme of 10th annual contest

Posted on May 25, 2016 in News Releases

News Release


For Immediate News Release May 26, 2016

“Planet at the Crossroads” is theme of 10th annual contest

HONOLULU – The imaginative visions of middle school students reveal their insights on the environment in Hawai‘i today, and their dreams for tomorrow. Twenty-five Hawaiʻi middle school students were selected as top winners for their poems and short stories on May 13 in the annual “My Hawai‘i” environmental writing contest for students in grades 6, 7 and 8, sponsored by the Pacific Writers’ Connection (PWC), the Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance and multiple Hawaiʻi conservation agencies and organizations. 

Their entries were selected from more than 500 submissions from across the state and for most of the winners, this will be their first work ever published. The anthology with all twenty-five stories will be distributed to schools and libraries across all islands. “Planet at the Crossroads” was chosen as the theme, to align with the 2016 International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 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.

Takiora Ingram, director of the Pacific Writers’ Connection (PWC) and main driver of the writing contest said, “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. The 2016 winners will have an opportunity to showcase their poems and stories at the Congress. Mahalo nui to our winners and our partners and sponsors.”

For the past ten years, the following organizations have co-sponsored the My Hawai‘i Story contest:

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

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


For more information news media may contact:

Deborah Ward

DLNR Communications Specialist

Phone: (808) 587-0320