PUKALANI - An 8th-grade student from Molokai Middle School won the grand prize in the 11th annual Maui County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Poetry Contest.
Michaella Tancayo was selected from a field of more than 420 entries.
Mayor Charmaine Tavares presented her with a certificate, and she also received a glass peace sculpture created by Elan Vital.
Michaella Tancayo (second from left) won the grand prize in the Maui County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Poetry Contest. She is shown with (from left) Melinda Gohn, contest coordinator; Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares; Kahu Alalani Hill and Ayin Adams.
Tancayo's poem "Freedom" weaves English and Hawaiian into images of King's strength and character, beginning with the lines, "Listen closely for I have a tale/No kekahi kanaka i ha'awi kona leo/he preached and preached with his strong mana/Ua ha'awi kona pu'uwai i na kanaka a mina 'ohana."
Melinda Gohn, county coordinator of the International Peace Poem Project, said, "Michaella's poem describes King's struggle and dream. She implants a unique Hawaiian tone to her work. We are delighted to receive work of this complexity from Maui County students."
The project recognized more than 80 students with posters of King and a certificate.
Some 200 people attended the awards ceremony held May 5 at the Hannibal Tavares Community Center.
More information about the project is peacepoem.org.