Leilehua Team Wins $25,000 For Photo-mosaic Mural Project


Leilehua’s catalyst team includes (back) Kevin Sumera, Asa Arhelger, Aulani Pang, (front) Michelle Masutani and Theresa Tasani. Photo courtesy Leilehua High School.

Five Leilehua High School students on the Wahiawa Environmental Action Catalyst Team (WEACT) took first place in the fifth annual Lexus Eco Challenge with their project idea of a photo-mosaic mural.

Individual images of community members performing energy-saving acts will be arranged to form a larger image of a pineapple, which depicts the agricultural history of Wahiawa.

The WEACT project is so big and significant it still won – even though it has not yet been completed. December is the target date.

According to adviser Karen Yamamoto, Hawaiian Electric Co. will calculate the amount of energy people in the Wahiawa community would save if they were to perform these acts on a daily basis.

The team’s goal is to unify and bring pride to the Wahiawa community and to reinforce the idea that everybody has to participate in their own energy future.

“We want to show the community and hopefully the world that even if they do something small, if they do it in unison it will amount to something big,” she explained.

The team already has started the project, which will require 1,000 tiles that are 4-by-4 inches in size. Their goal is to unify and bring pride to the Wahiawa community.

Juniors Asa Arhelger, Michele Masutani, Kevin Sumera and Theresa Tasani and sophomore Aulani Pang make up the WEACT team that was awarded $10,000 for its entry in the Air-Climate Challenge earlier this school year. Now, as a first place winner in the final challenge, Leilehua High School will receive another grant for $15,000.

WEACT is one of eight first-place teams across the country. The Lexus Eco Challenge, which is an education program and contest created by Lexus and Scholastic (a children’s book publisher), inspires and empowers middle and high school students to learn about the environment and take action to improve it.

The Mules’ team focused its final challenge efforts on how critical it is for Hawaii residents to understand the need for energy conservation and the adoption of renewable energy technology.

According to Yamamoto, the students feel strongly about the community’s role in the degradation of the environment, and they want to be part of the solution.

The students of WEACT are working to educate fellow students and others in the community about the effects of carbon emissions and our state’s dependency on petroleum. They also have presented their idea to public officials, businesses and community organizations.

Their goal is to collect at least 3,000 pledges from residents and community members to be in photographs, and they also are continuing to recruit community participants and solicit local sponsors. If interested or for more information, email Yamamoto at leilehuaecoclub@yahoo.com or call her at 622-6569.

To see the Lexus Eco Challenge’s winning entries or to find out how to participate in next year’s program, go to scholastic.com/lexus.