Lei’n it on!


Two Molokai schools excel in statewide lei contest

By Léo Azambuja

Every year the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) puts out a statewide challenge to Hawaii students called “Sew a Lei for Memorial Day” contest. The schools that produce most lei per student, and most lei overall win prizes to be used in classrooms. The lei are shipped from all islands to Oahu, where they are used in the Memorial Day festivities at Punchbowl.

Two Molokai schools, Kilohana Elementary and Molokai Middle School, took the challenge seriously, with their students making a combined number of over 1,100 lei.

DPR representative Arnold Galacia came especially from Oahu last Tuesday to present awards to the students of both schools.

Students from Kilohana Elementary School made 801 lei, an impressive rate of 8.2 lei per student. The school took second place statewide in “most lei per student” category.

This is not the first time the Kilohana School has won merits in the Memorial Day Lei Contest. The school’s principal, Leighton Kawae, said the school took first place in this colorful contest last year, wining a Mac computer. But he was hardly disappointed with this year’s performance.

“We came in second, and it was really good,” Kawae said.

Kawae has at least one big reason to be happy, the school won a large projector, which will come in handy for classroom presentations and lectures.

Already looking toward next year’s competition, Kawae has one wish. “I hope we can repeat ourselves again,” he said. He also mentioned the other Molokai school that won an award did a great job.

Molokai Middle School took sixth place statewide in the same category, with its students producing 310 lei – 1.8 per student.

“Our students did such a good job,” Jennifer Ainoa said. The proud teacher works at the Molokai Middle School, and could not hide her excitement. For their efforts, the children won a VCR player.

Ainoa said the students gathered their own materials, and brought them to classes. Teachers coordinated the lei making efforts, and collected the lei after they were finished. She said Camie Kimball spearheaded the program, inspiring everyone to participate.

Students from all over the State contributed with 35,000 lei to the last Memorial Day’s celebrations at Punchbowl, in Honolulu, according to Galacia. The result was a stunning display of Hawaiian culture. Galacia said the boy-scouts come in a day before the celebration and decorate the national flags with the lei, while the girl-scouts decorate a chapel.

Congratulations to all Molokai students who participated in the state challenge.


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