Sacred Hearts students win awards in ‘Eddie Would Go’ Essay Contest
LAHAINA – Maui-born Eddie Aikau became one of Hawaii’s most celebrated heroes while laying down his life for his crewmen aboard Hokule’a, a replica of the ancient Polynesian canoes crafted by Hawaii’s first inhabitants. But while Aikau’s death aboard Hokule’a may have been an utter tragedy, his legend continues to inspire people in a variety of ways.
One such example is the annual “Eddie Would Go” Essay Contest, an event hosted by the Eddie Aikau Foundation.
The foundation, run by several of Aikau’s surviving family members, uses the essay contest as a way to connect Hawaii’s young burgeoning writers with Eddie’s unwavering spirit.
Every year, students in grades 7-10 from around the islands submit their essays in the hopes of winning a variety of prizes, from cash awards to Eddie Aikau memorabilia.
This year’s Maui winners included two students from Sacred Hearts School. Seventh-grader Erika Ramos Lagunas received an honorable mention for her essay, “Eddie’s ‘Ike,” while eighth-grader Grace Devane took second place for “Eddie Aikau Lives On.”
“I tried to write an essay that explores and captures Eddie’s ‘ike (knowledge),” explained Ramos Lagunas, “one that shows his passionate knowledge for the ocean. I was inspired by his selfless courage.”
Devane said, “I was really inspired by him, too. Eddie cared about everybody so much and loved Hawaii. He also cared for the ‘aina, and that makes him a huge role model for me.”
Grace believes that with today’s pressing environmental and social issues, everyone has a lot to learn from people like Eddie – people who wanted to Malama Honua (care for island Earth).
On Nov. 15, both students traveled to Oahu to attend the award ceremony alongside their families and their Language Arts teacher, Mary Anna Enriquez.
Enriquez is no stranger to the Aikau story and the concept of Malama Honua. In August/September 2014, she served as the education specialist aboard Hikianalia, the sister ship to Hokule’a.
“Every lesson I teach revolves around the concept of Malama Honua,” Enriquez said, as the students walked toward the stage to receive their awards. “These special moments show me that they really understand it.”
(Beau Ewan is a former teacher at Sacred Hearts School in Lahaina. He is now a faculty member in Languages, Linguistics and Literature at Kapiolani Community College.)