‘I can be the best I can be’

Fourth-grade stu­dent wins es­say con­test

The Garden Island - - Morning Briefing - Den­nis Fu­ji­moto

LIHUE — Mandy Gokan, a fourth-grade stu­dent at the Ka­paa El­e­men­tary School, wants to be­come a res­cue he­li­copter pilot when she grows up.

Her as­pi­ra­tion was the theme of her Char­ac­ter Counts es­say and art­work con­test that earned first place in the Kauai As­so­ci­a­tion for Fam­ily and Com­mu­nity Ed­u­ca­tion con­test that pro­motes ethics among stu­dents us­ing “Six Pil­lars of Char­ac­ter,” in­clud­ing Car­ing, Cit­i­zen­ship, Trust­wor­thi­ness, Re­spect, Re­spon­si­bil­ity, and Fair­ness.

This year’s theme was Cit­i­zen­ship.

Gokan was the win­ner, fol­lowed by Kekoapono Miyasato of the Elsie Wil­cox El­e­men­tary School get­ting sec­ond place. Collin Francks of Wil­cox El­e­men­tary was the third place award win­ner and Aubry Agena and Asia Cam­pos earned hon­or­able men­tion awards. Jas­mine Ben­ton of the King Kau­muali‘i El­e­men­tary School also earned hon­or­able men­tion ac­co­lades dur­ing the awards pre­sented by KAFCE mem­bers at the Lihue Neigh­bor­hood Cen­ter, Satur­day.

Gokan also earned first place in the state com­pe­ti­tion. A copy of her es­say has been sub­mit­ted for na­tional con­sid­er­a­tion.

“‘Cit­i­zen­ship’ to me means a per­son who is thank­ful for the rights and priv­i­leges of a par­tic­u­lar coun­try, and in re­turn, uses the rights and priv­i­leges to give back to the com­mu­nity to make it a good place to live,” Gokan wrote. “In sim­ple terms, it means to fol­low the rules and do great things with them.”

She said “Cit­i­zen­ship in other coun­tries can be good, or hard.”

“Here in Amer­ica, at first the rules did not of­fer much op­por­tu­ni­ties for girls,” Gokan wrote. “But now, be­cause of the right to free speech and equal op­por­tu­ni­ties, there are great rules for girls. I re­al­ized that there are more fe­male doc­tors, en­gi­neers, and other highly re­spected peo­ple be­cause of be­ing a U.S. cit­i­zen.”

She said she re­al­izes there are other coun­tries where it is dif­fi­cult to be a cit­i­zen.

Gokan said she comes from a fam­ily with three girls.

“In some coun­tries, I wouldn’t be able to help out when­ever I can, and be nice to peo­ple,” she said. “I would have to do what my fam­ily does, won’t have choices and op­por­tu­ni­ties and can’t use my strengths or in­ter­ests to make them happy. As a U.S. cit­i­zen, I can be the best I can be.”

She said she is lucky to be a U.S. cit­i­zen.

“Here in Hawaii, we say ‘ku­lia I ka Nu‘u — strive for the fullest’,” she said. “Be­cause of all those who served to pro­tect our free­doms, I can strive to be a good cit­i­zen. I will be­come a fe­male res­cue he­li­copter pilot and save fel­low cit­i­zens to make this coun­try safe and proud.” ••• Den­nis Fu­ji­moto, staff writer and pho­tog­ra­pher, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfu­ji­moto@the­gar­denis­land.com.

DEN­NIS FU­JI­MOTO / THE GAR­DEN IS­LAND

Kauai As­so­ci­a­tion for Fam­ily and Com­mu­nity Ed­u­ca­tion es­say win­ners Collin Francks, Aubry Agena, Mandy Gokan, Kekoapono Miyasato, and Jas­mine Ben­ton are pre­sented by Wil­cox School prin­ci­pal Cory Naka­mura, Kauai Area Com­plex su­per­in­ten­dent Wil­liam Arakaki, Ka­paa El­e­men­tary vice prin­ci­pal Marlene Leary, KAFCE’s Laurie Ho and Quee­nie Daligdig, Satur­day dur­ing the KAFCE awards lun­cheon at the Lihue Neigh­bor­hood Cen­ter.

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