Through a powerful poem expressing a Holocaust survivor’s story of “conquer[ing] unbelievable odds,” Maile Fowler '22 earned 2nd place in the high school poetry division of the 23rd annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest. The Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education at Chapman University, the 1939 Society, the Samueli Foundation, and Yossie & Dana Hollander sponsor this prestigious international competition. This year, the contest drew entries from 258 registered schools and thousands of students from across the U.S. and eleven other countries. Maile’s recognition as a finalist is the second for KCS, following Emily Kuwaye’s '19 winning poem in 2018.
For their prompt, contest participants identified a part of the survivor’s testimony that was “a source of courage, resilience, or hope” as the survivor moved forward in life after the war. Maile’s poem, "Hate Will Never Win," voices Celina Biniaz’s inspiring story to combat and eventually defeat the fear, hate, contempt that once lingered in her heart. Maile credits her 3rd quarter European Literature curriculum, in which students read and studied Night and The Hiding Place, for providing the context from which to better understand what Ms. Biniaz endured. Maile’s poignant poem utilizes imagery and figurative language to build to her final insight.
A photo of Maile and Literature Teacher Mrs. Fong (above) was shared during the live stream presentation of the awards ceremony held on March 11 at Chapman University. When reflecting on her 2nd place recognition, Maile acknowledges, “In a time where I am constantly searching for my talents and gifts, it is nice to see, tangibly, what skills God has given to me.” The process of composing the poem also made a profound impact on Maile. As she dove “deep into the words” through her writing, she experienced a new appreciation and insight into the power of courage and forgiveness that resonates throughout Celina’s story. Congratulations, Maile, on your award-winning poem and perpetuating the legacy of Celina Biniaz!
High school Bible, science, and math teacher, Dr. Julian “JR” Cuevas, released his third book on September 30, utilizing the “athletic analogy” theme found in Scripture to present timeless truths for living with wisdom. In The Parable of Sports, Dr. Cuevas reflects on his unique relationship with sports, from a childhood disinterest to engaging in sports at every level “from recreation to vocation to competition.” Through his wide range of experiences in athletics, coupled with his roles as teacher, pastor, mentor, and tutor, Dr. Cuevas presents twenty-seven devotional-style lessons filled with personal stories and biblical wisdom.
As Dr. Cuevas feels more gifted in teaching or speaking, he readily admits that “writing is hard.” Despite navigating the challenges of the editing process and writing for a broader audience, Dr. Cuevas acknowledges that he enjoys how writing brings systematic thinking, clarity, and a crystallization of ideas. For this book, the idea of compiling biblical life lessons from sports began with a conversation in the car with a former high school student, further encouraged by Dr. Cuevas’s friends and colleagues.
Recognizing the significant role of athletics in American culture and the lives of youth, Dr. Cuevas hopes that using a medium as relatable as sports prompts his reader to apply the same principles from the Bible to everyday living. When asked to share favorite lessons from the book, Dr. Cuevas highlights “Learning to Take Risks and Put Your Abilities on the Line” (Chapter 2) and “Learning How to Win When You Are Not at Your Best” (Chapter 6). He notes that the life lessons drawn from these chapters are often best illustrated on the playing field and not in the classroom, affirming the value of students participating in sports. As Dr. Cuevas writes in his introduction, “Sports really serve as a parable for Christian living; there are simply things that you learn from competitive athletics that you can’t really learn in the classroom or your living room.”
Dr. Cuevas looks forward to using this text as a devotional study with his Senior homeroom class next semester. The Parable of Sports is available on Amazon and is part of the Big Truth Little Books series published by With All Wisdom Publications.
On October 28, the Hawaii Pro Bono Celebration livestream event not only celebrated the generosity of attorneys who ensure that access to justice is achieved but also the valuable volunteer efforts of seven Hawaii high school students. This year’s Hawaii Access to Justice Commission essay contest centered on the theme “Many hands make light work: How my work as a volunteer helped to build and/or strengthen my community.”
Senior Zachary Kao’s essay was selected by the Access to Justice Commission, and he was awarded $500 by Tamashiro Sogi & Bonner, A Law Corporation. During the ceremony, Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald recognized Zach’s essay titled “The Power of ‘Insignificant.’” In Zach’s reflective piece, he shares how his interactions with patients, as a volunteer for Queen's Medical Center, made a profound impact on him. Despite being tasked with seemingly mundane work, Zach realizes the joy that comes from “tiny but powerful actions.” His concluding thought highlights the power of volunteer work as he writes, “Although we don’t always expect it, what feels like the most insignificant of actions could create the most extraordinary of outcomes.”
Congratulations, Zach, for making a difference in the community! Special thanks to high school literature teacher, Mrs. Fong, for working with Zach to craft such an excellent essay!
Throughout these challenging times, comfort can often be found through genuine relationships. For about a year and a half, a handful of married couples, who are a part of an ‘ohana group from Kaimuki Christian Church (KCC), have paired up with the class of 2022. Despite meeting only once over Zoom this school year due to COVID-19, these adults and students met every month last school year before the pandemic. ‘Ohana group members would visit the class during lunch, attend their basketball games, and communicate with the students frequently. The groups plan to restart meeting regularly over the next couple of months.
These meetings have impacted both the ‘ohana group and the students deeply. The junior class welcomes these new relationships in their lives. “Having the opportunity to talk to the fun aunties and uncles in the church group is such a blessing,” says Kamalani Aipa. Megan Hirasaki explains how the mentors “fill the room with laughter, listen closely to each of us, [and] encourage all of us when we need it most.” Not only have the 'ohana group members mentored the students emotionally, but also spiritually. Kyle Sleeper remarks that the leadership from the men in the group has helped him to “to embrace the Lord.”
Connecting these two groups together has come through fun activities and conversations. While the uncles make an effort to bring joy into the day through competitive games of charades and Pictionary, the aunties elaborate on their self-starter bands, Hillsong Worship College experiences, and their wonderful children. Caz Sands, wife of KCC Lead Pastor Bryan Sands and one of the aunties leading the group, affirms the purpose of building these new relationships, noting that their ‘ohana group “wanted to reach out to students and just encourage, mentor, and be there for them, with no agenda.” She describes her love of spending quality time with the class and deepening their relationships. Caz, as well as the other mentors, hope that the students know that they are cared for and fully supported in their walk through life.
The class of 2022 hopes that they will be able to continue meeting with the ‘ohana group until graduation, and similarly, the ‘ohana group looks forward to the day when they can meet in person with the students once again. This is a unique opportunity not only for mentorship but also for friendship. Both the adults and students are grateful for the memories they created within the group, and they pray that God grants them many more.