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Kapolei Youths Honored For Academics, Art, STEM Work

Among Kapolei Middle School's 192 recipients of this year's Po'okela Award are (from left) Rusty Neitzel (grade 7), Hunter Copp (grade 7), Cody Liu (grade 6) and Rachelle Lariba (grade 8). The students were presented with their awards by Reps. Sharon Har and Ty Cullen, complex area superintendent Heidi Armstrong, and principal Bruce Naguwa at a June 13 ceremony. Photo from Rep. Har's office.

Among Kapolei Middle School’s 192 recipients of this year’s Po’okela Award are (from left) Rusty Neitzel (grade 7), Hunter Copp (grade 7), Cody Liu (grade 6) and Rachelle Lariba (grade 8). The students were presented with their awards by Reps. Sharon Har and Ty Cullen, complex area superintendent Heidi Armstrong, and principal Bruce Naguwa at a June 13 ceremony. Photo from Rep. Har’s office.

Second City Spotlight…Rep. Sharon Har

It is easy to become disillusioned by the news, as negative stories seem to dominate the coverage. There is, however, a plethora of good news stemming from some of the youngest members of our community. This week I want to shine the Second City Spotlight on Kapolei Middle School’s Po’okela Awards, which highlight the hard work being done by great students at the school.

When Bruce Naguwa took over as principal of Kapolei Middle in July 2012, he wanted to develop an event to recognize the achievements of exceptional students.

KMS is one of the largest middle schools in the state, with approximately 1,470 students. With the blessing of his staff, principal Naguwa chose to name the annual award “Po’okela,” which is Hawaiian for “excellence.”

The award recognizes student achievement in a variety of categories, including academics, art; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Prior to the end-of-the year awards ceremony, a congratulatory dinner for parents, students and honored guests is hosted by the James Campbell Company.

Last year, I was proud to attend the first two Po’okela Awards ceremonies to present congratulatory certificates to all 178 award recipients for the 2012-2013 school year. I was honored to be invited back May 29 and June 13 of this year to help recognize and congratulate another 192 students, many of them repeat recipients.

The Po’okela Awards are much more than an awards ceremony. It is the culmination of countless hours of hard work, drive, dedication and focus by students.

In a world filled with a multitude of distractions, it is refreshing to see the commitment that these students have made to themselves, their parents and their teachers.

It gave me a great sense of joy to personally congratulate each and every student who received a Po’okela. These youths have much to be proud of, and I am thankful to principal Naguwa and his staff for creating an opportunity to recognize KMS students for their exemplary work.

Congratulations to all of the 2014 Po’okela Award recipients!

Call state Rep. Sharon Har, D-District 49 (Makakilo/Kapolei), at 586-8500 or email her at rephar@capitol.hawaii.gov.

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