‘I can be the best I can be’
Fourth-grade student wins essay contest
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.