Student wins grand prize in peace poetry contest


Fifth-grade student Stella Garnier from Sacred Hearts School was the grand prize winner for Maui County in the 20th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Poetry Contest.

Former President of the African Americans On Maui Association Gwyn Gorg, speaking before an audience of 160 people, congratulated Garnier and all the contest winners and spoke of the importance of promoting peace and nonviolence.

Garnier received certificates provided by Gov. David Ige and Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino, recognizing her achievement May 17 at the Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani.

Event organizer Melinda Gohn; Gov. Ige’s representative Leah Belmonte; and Victorino’s representative Stacy Crivello presented Garnier with the certificates. She also received the Maui grand prize, a canvas painting donated and presented by Maui artist Davo. Garnier’s poem was selected from a field of more than 500 Maui County student entries.

Gohn said Garnier’s winning peace poem, “The Love of a White Dove,” uses metered rhyme and metaphor to describe finding peace in the natural world.

Garnier begins, “Peace is the seed to a wonderful life/Peace is sky on a starry night.”

She continues, “Peace is God in his best form/Peace is a rainy and windy storm.”

Garnier concludes, “Peace is the love of a white dove/and it makes you happy with all its love.”

“Garnier’s poem contains unusually perceptive meta-phors to create a poem uniquely reflecting a child’s wonder with the natural world. We are delighted to receive work of this caliber from Maui County,” said Gohn.

Four students from Maui schools received Gov. Ige’s certificates for writing poetry in Hawaiian — Kahekili Magliato-Vierra, Mia Kowianowski, Kaikaina Pagelsdorf and Kainalu Kapaku.

In all, 70 student winners were awarded certificates, including 18 students who competed from Molokai. Gov. Ige also provided a certificate for teacher Alicia Jacobson of Haiku Elementary School as the “Peacepoem Teacher of the Year.”

All winners received a certificate from Mayor Victorino and a limited edition poster commemorating Dr. King, donated by the International Peace Poem Project. The photograph in the poster contains an image of the majestic mountain peaks on Kauai, was donated by photographer Tony Novak-Clifford.

The contest is to promote peace through writing and recognizing the contributions of the late Dr. King, who was instrumental in using nonviolent means in obtaining civil rights for African Americans and other minorities.

International Peace Poem Project volunteers, who started the poem in June 1996, attended the United Nations Millennium Peace Day in September 2000.

International Peace Poem Project is a nongovernmental organization of volunteers that sponsors the competition. More information about the project and the Dr. King awards may be obtained by visiting peacepoem.org.