Molokai Youth Summit
By Ric Ornellas
The Molokai Youth Summit on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the MHS gym is looking for dialogue and solutions to a big question: how do we make everyone feel welcome? Diversity, equity and inclusion.
Adults often forget the hurdles of growing up: searching for personal identity, finding self-worth, being accepted by peers, learning to move and dress a developing body, among other obstacles. Beyond academic work, all Molokai educators and administrators tackle these important student questions on a daily basis.
HSTA, the Hawaii state teachers’ union, the HSTA Human Civil Rights Committee, and the HSTA Molokai Chapter, 109 teachers strong, are all working to consider these student concerns which were asked previously at the Social Justice Youth Summit Molokai 2019. The pandemic hit just months later, and we now live in a changed world with ongoing trauma yet unaddressed.
The purpose of this Molokai Youth Summit – beyond fun — is to highlight how to make everyone feel welcome in our changed world and the student-centered classrooms of 21st century Molokai schools. The summit will have displays of student work, both text and visuals, artwork, and a special Letters from Molokai to Maui Students project, where students can write encouraging letters of support to Maui students. Another special Maui project will be Hae Aloha Flags with materials and markers to make supportive flags, like traditional flags of Tibet or Nepal, to send and encourage Maui students. There will be activity booths, community agency booths, food for sale from the MHS Culinary Club and Pacific Eatery, student talent, and storytelling for the younger ones.
Highlighting student success will be Madisyn Howe, the first Molokai girl to win the Miss Hawaii Jr High pageant and an eighth grader at Molokai Middle School. Ms. Howe will emcee the summit agenda and activities and participate in a student-adult panel covering youth social issues that continue to affect our young: poverty, bullying, child abuse, drug use, suicide, and LGBTQ+ awareness.
The keynote speaker will be Kumu Hina, known for her work as a kumu hula, a filmmaker, artist, activist, and community leader in the field of Kanaka Maoli language and cultural preservation. She teaches Kanaka Maoli philosophy and traditions that promote cross-cultural alliances throughout the Pacific.