“I saw as a teacher how, if you take that spark of learning that those children have, and you ignite it, you can take a child from any background to a lifetime of creativity and accomplishment.”
-Paul Wellstone

Po‘ohala Essay Contest

Po‘ohala Essay CoFoundersBackground
The Po‘ohala Essay Contest is Maui Waena Intermediate School’s first ever community-partnered essay contest.

Brittany Yap and Roderick Pontemayor founded the contest in January 2013: with the support of Po‘ohala Atay’s family and the Friends of Maui Waena. Yap and Pontemayor remain the key sponsors of this annual event.

In its first year, all 8th grade students at Maui Waena Intermediate participated in the essay contest. Students chose one of three different topic questions and wrote a 2-4-page essay. Maui Waena 8th grade language arts teachers chose the top essays from each class and submitted them to the essay committee members. The committee then chose the winning essays based on critical thinking, vocabulary, grammar, and organization.

Contest winners were announced on May 22, 2013 at Maui Waena’s 8th grade matriculation ceremony. Awards were given for first place ($300), second place ($200), third place ($100), fourth and fifth place ($50), and honorable mentions ($25-$30 gift cards). See list of winners below.

“I wanted to do something fun that would help students become more confident at essay writing and that would prepare them for high school and college,” said Yap. “We hope to make the essay contest an annual event.”

Yap, who is a Maui native and Maui Waena Intermediate School alumna named the contest after her friend, Po‘ohala Atay, who passed away on August 5, 2012.

Atay, 27, was born in Wailuku, Maui and was a VIP host at clubs in Hollywood, Calif., Las Vegas, Nev., and Miami, Fla. Atay attended Kahului Baptist Preschool, Lihikai Elementary, Maui Waena Intermediate, Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama Campus, and Mesa Community College in San Diego for a short time.

“We are very pleased with this donation that ties into our writing standards and honors one of our former students,” said Maui Waena Principal Jamie Yap. “The Friends of Maui Waena continue to build partnerships with community members and we hope more people will be willing to support our students.”

 

2015 Winners.

1st Place: Noah Pilotin – “My Life’s Time Clock” ($300)

2nd Place: Kaleb Makimoto – “Dangers of GMO” ($200)

3rd Place: Christian Mailem – “My Ideal Job: Pilot” ($100)

4th Place: Colette Anne Laxamana Cerrafon – “My Ideal Career: Writer” ($50)

5th Place: Jennifer Nguyen – “Physician-Assisted Suicide for Terminally Ill” ($50)

6th Place: Milika Hifo – “Not Good Enough” ($30)

7th Place: Maria Hea Arabella Inong – “My Greatest Fear” ($30)

(L to R) Maui Waena Intermediate School Principal Jamie Yap, Noah Pilotin, Kaleb Makimoto, Christian Mailem, Colette Anne Laxamana Cerrafon, Jennifer Nguyen, Milika Hifo and Maria Hea Arabella Inong.

Honorable Mentions: ($25 Target Gift Card)

Dyna Lynn Soriano, Misty Dela Cruz, Kymani Sombelon, Romeo Cabading Jr., Rachael M. Damasco, and Mariana Joy Decena

All winners and participants of the 3rd annual Po’ohala Essay Contest.

Mahalo to our 2015 Donors.

Britt Yap & Rod Pontemayor
Betsey Dickerson
Malia Hudgins
Lani Chargualaf and Kai’noa
Friends of Maui Waena
Clayton Fuchigami
*Countless others who purchased apparel from Perpetuate Hawaiian Culture to support this contest and the scholarship fund.

 

 

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2014 Contest Flyer.

Coming Soon.

2014 Winners.

1st Place: Asia Hoylman – “A Little Dirt Wouldn’t Hurt” ($300)

2nd Place: Kianna Lutero – “Instagram: How it Changed Society” ($200)

3rd Place: Yasha Ronquillo – “What’s Positive About Being Positive?” ($100)

4th Place: Kaycee Arase – “Setting and Accomplishing Goals” ($50)

5th Place: Axl Daguio – “Forgiveness” ($50)

6th Place: Alysha Lia Baysa – “Bigger Than Just a Band” ($25 gift card + movie pass)

7th Place: Alexis Aglugub – “Writing is a Good Habit” ($25 gift card + movie pass)

8th Place: Karen Tabbada – “The Person I Admire” ($25 gift card + movie pass)

Honorable Mentions:
*20 students won either a gift card worth $25 for Ka’ahumanu Shopping Center or Consolidated movie tickets

 

Renee Matsuda
Michaela Gamboa-Ruggeiro
Kisses Mari Quema
Jaymar Quedding
Ysanne Sanchez
Camille Kimoto
Pablo Gonzales
Chanelle Green
Liliola Vehikite
Ralph Pacubas
Camryn Ban
Emily Tsuhako
Ray-Anne Dela Cruz
Shaelyn Moracco
Rhea Lynne Tabbay
Emily Mitra
Jessa Mae Sagario
Katelen Orquia
Stacie Saito
Mary Jicel Butac
top8

Mahie Atay, cousin of the deceased Po’ohala Atay in which the essay contest is named after, with essay co-founder Britt Yap and the Top 8 winners.

top8withrod

Essay co-founders Rod Pontemayor and Britt Yap, along with Maui Waena Intermediate Principal Jamie Yap, congratulate the Top 8 winners. (One student was absent).

Here are the 20 Honorable Mention Awardees with Britt Yap and Mahie Atay.

Here are the 20 Honorable Mention Awardees with Britt Yap and Mahie Atay.

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The 2014 8th grade class of Maui Waena consists of nearly 400 students. The essay contest awards were presented to the 28 winners at the school’s 8th grade banquet on the final day of school.

Mahalo to our 2014 Donors.

Britt Yap & Rod Pontemayor
Betsey Dickerson
Malia Hudgins
Keoho Enomoto
Jo-Ann Yap
Ruby Pontemayor
Ruth & Rudolfo Pontemayor
Jayme Ing
Merv Oana
Nicole Kato
Lani Chargualaf and Kai’noa
Candance Thoth
Malia Beter
Friends of Maui Waena
Clayton Fuchigami
*Countless others who purchased a Perpetuate clutch to support this contest and the scholarship fund.

 

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2013 Contest Flyer.

Po'ohala-Essay-Contest-FlyeClick here to download the essay contest flyer.

 

 

2013 Winners.

1st Place: Rachel Nagamine ($300 & 2 movie tickets)

2nd Place: Renezel Lagran ($200 & 2 movie tickets)

3rd Place: Alexandria Tyau ($100 & 2 movie tickets)

4th Place: (TIE)-Sydney Dempsey & Mitchell Gray (Each received $50 & 2 movie tickets)

5th Place: Wesley Sakutori ($50 & 2 movie tickets)

Honorable Mentions:
*Each student won a gift card worth $20-$30

 

Jeb Rulloda
Sheena Garo
Joshua Medeiros-Taylor
Joseph Kim
Jamaica Aquino
Keely Takayama
Courtney Cadiz
Denise Torres
Tehina Brito
Nathalie Taroma
Nicole Yuzon
Aimee Nathan
Jonel Dumelod
Kristine Villon
Columbus Patrocinio II
Gina Apuna-Boyd
Andrell Elvena
Jayven Acosta
Aljon Almarez

 

 

(L to R) Wesley Sakutori (5th), Sydney Dempsey and Mitchell Gray (tied for 4th), Alexandria Tyau (3rd), Renezel Lagran (2nd), Rachel Nagamine (1st), Essay Co-founders Rod Pontemayor and Britt Yap, and Maui Waena Principal Jamie Yap.

(L to R) Wesley Sakutori (5th), Sydney Dempsey and Mitchell Gray (tied for 4th), Alexandria Tyau (3rd), Renezel Lagran (2nd), Rachel Nagamine (1st), Essay Co-founders Rod Pontemayor and Britt Yap, and Maui Waena Principal Jamie Yap.

Special guests Rep. Justin Woodson and Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran were in attendance.

Special guests Rep. Justin Woodson and Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran were in attendance.

Essay Contest Co-founders Britt Yap and Rod Pontemayor, along with Po‘ohala Atay's family and Maui Waena Principal Jamie Yap, congratulate Rachel Nagamine on her first place essay that persuades people to make reading a healthy habit in their everyday lives.

Essay Contest Co-founders Britt Yap and Rod Pontemayor, along with Po‘ohala Atay’s family and Maui Waena Principal Jamie Yap, congratulate Rachel Nagamine on her first place essay that persuades people to make reading a healthy habit in their everyday lives.

Thirty students won a prize in the First Annual Po‘ohala Essay Contest. Winners were announced on May 22, 2013 at Maui Waena School's matriculation ceremony. There were six top winners who were awarded a cash prize.

Thirty students won a prize in the First Annual Po‘ohala Essay Contest. Winners were announced on May 22, 2013 at Maui Waena School’s matriculation ceremony. There were six top winners who were awarded a cash prize.

 

Mahalo to our 2013 Donors.

Britt Yap & Rod Pontemayor
Betsey Dickerson
Malia Hudgins
Ann Masaki
Klaire Trajano
Robin Reis
Keoho Enomoto
Janet Brown & Hope Chapel
Maui Contractors Women’s Auxiliary
Jamie & Reese Yap
Jo-Ann Yap
Friends of Maui Waena
Clayton Fuchigami

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Donate.

We greatly appreciate any donations from people in the community. If you would like to donate to the essay contest, please email britt@brittyap.com for more information.

Press.

30 Honored in 1st Annual Po’ohala Essay Contest
May 28, 2013, Maui Now

Brittany Yap KSK’02 Pays it Forward with Scholarship
Spring 2013, Kamehameha School’s Alumni Magazine