Read to Succeed
year when I got a letter in the mail that said I was nominated and picked to go,” Jershon said.
During the forum, Jershon will visit Capitol Hill, meet a member of Congress, visit the U.S. Supreme Court and get an insider’s look at the Library of Congress – and that’s only the first day.
The rest of the five-day leadership council will be just as action-packed. A group of students from all over the world will get a behind the scenes look at many of the country’s most famous landmarks as well as break into smaller groups to learn how to be more effective leaders.
Making It Happen
Jershon was nominated for the honor by long-time Kaunakakai School teacher Kini Tokailagi. Tokailagi taught Jershon in first grade and said she thought he was a good fit because of he did well academically and always acted as a leader.
“He is very intelligent, very responsible and I could see he was a good leader,” she said.
After his acceptance to the program, the only thing standing between Jershon and the experience of a lifetime was money. The program tuition is nearly $2,500 and a round trip flight to the east coast would tack on another serious price tag.
Jershon decided that he would bring attention to his cause by holding a “Read To Succeed Read-A-Thon.” He pledged to read 2,500 pages during school vacation from Oct. 4-10 and asked that community members help him get to the leadership forum in return.
The Kaalekahis posted signs around town and set up a booth at the Molokai Film Festival on Oct. 10 that was busy throughout the night. Money poured in from close relatives, friends from the island and complete strangers who just happened to be visiting. Several paddlers who were visiting for the Molokai Hoe stopped by at the film festival to offer their support.
Jershon held up his end of the bargain. He spent the week reading Harry Potter, taking his only real breaks for football practice each afternoon.
“I think it went really well,” said Jershon’s mother Kristin Kaalekahi. “At times it was kind of challenging. Most of his time was dedicating to reading, but we were all so excited for him.”
The read-a-thon raised enough money to cover the cost of tuition and put a solid dent in the plane trip.
“It was actually way more than we expected we were more than pleased and really overwhelmed from the support,” Kristin Kaalekahi said.
Jershon said he plans on holding a presentation when he returns from the mainland to share all he has learned with the local businesses and people who helped get him there.