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Windward Students ‘Present’ At Absenteeism Video Contest

Skipping a day of school seems harmless enough. But chronic absenteeism, even in elementary school, has been linked to increased high school dropout rates. That’s why the Windward school district launched a “Be Pono — Be in School” campaign last August, culminating in a recent video contest with winners from five area schools.

Students from all area public schools were invited to produce a 30-second video advocating the importance of regular school attendance.

In the Group category, Aikahi Elementary’s third-grade language arts students won the top prize with Pono and Zono, the tale of two boys with very different attitudes on attendance. Second and third place went to King Intermediate’s Lunch Video Club for Rewind and Be.

Kalaheo High swept the Individual category: Katherine Graham took first with Freedom, a whiteboard reminiscence on the consequences of cutting class. Chloe Christensen placed second with Good Choice, and Jason Goldstein’s Welcome to My Library earned third.

The School category — productions by the entire student body working together — went to Maunawili Elementary for Be Pono, Sunset Beach Elementary for One School’s Opinion and Enchanted Lake Elementary for Let’s be Pono.

More than 1,500 students contributed to a total of 60 entries. Prizes, including $10,000 cash, pizza parties, field trips and more, were donated by local businesses, such as Kualoa Ranch, Glow Putt Mini-Golf and Polynesian Cultural Center.

Running the “Be Pono” campaign were district educational specialist Paula Wong and a team of seven social workers, who are already planning next year’s events.

Students, meanwhile, can start the 2014-2015 school year off right by showing up for the first day of classes Aug. 1.