Class project sparks kindness mural at Kohala Middle School

  • Aisha Elmer, Naomi Brooke and Adrianna Leitch work away.
  • Averie Sasaki, Raven Diaz and Mahea Pasco are hard at work.

  • The winning design was sketched out before it was painted.
  • Kalia Riveira paints away on the mural before it’s hung. Courtesy photo

  • Proud students pose next to the finished project.

  • Liosh Winne and Kalei Webster work on the kindness mural at Kohala Middle Schools. Courtesy photos

NORTH KOHALA — The idea was sparked by an assignment.

It’s one that Lauren Canton gives to the students in her peer mediation class every year — to come up with kindness projects that “promote peace and kindness on the KMS campus.”

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This year, a group of her students took the idea and ran — better yet, painted — and came up with the idea to create a kindness mural on the Kohala Middle School campus.

“I wanted to do something different from everyone else and something that would last a long time,” said student Adrianna Leitch, who came up with the idea to do a mural, which her fellow students quickly supported.

Helping her see her vision to reality were eighth-grade students Naomi Brooke and Megan Hoopai and sixth-grade students Isaac Salvador-Libron and Aisha Elmer.

The students began their project by holding a mural design competition and asking their fellow students to submit a mural design with the quote “Aloha Kekahi I Kekahi” or “Love One Another.” Peer Mediation students then voted on the winners.

Third place design winner was sixth-grader Aisha Elmer, second place was awarded to seventh-grader Lulia Perez, and the first place mural design winner was seventh-grade student Jayline Salvador.

“I feel proud of myself and I’m happy that my parents are proud of me,” Jayline said. “I made something that can be here [in Kohala] for a long time and more kids can see that they can do whatever they want and they can achieve the goals they set for themselves. I want people [when they pass the mural] to feel that they don’t have to be mean to others and they can spread love to the world. Being mean is not going to help the world. Instead, you can be a role model by being kind and loving to others.”

After the design was selected, the next step was finding a local artist to help the students create the mural.

Canton reached out to Anna Flint, co-director of the new Artist’s Cooperative and Community Center in Kapaau, who referred her to Raven Diaz. Diaz’s hard work, dedication, and leadership helped the mural turn out to be a beautiful success. Diaz and the students spent hours planning, tracing, painting, and coating the mural. After several weeks, the mural was complete and ready to be hung. Llosh Winne and Kalei Webster helped hang it on the east (Pololu) side of the KMS campus, facing the street, outside Andrew Henderson’s classroom.

This project is a result of the hard work of so many members of the community.

“What I love about this project is that it is a true community effort. So many people came together to make it happen, from the school custodians, school principal, local artists, and parents,” Ms. Canton wrote. “And at the forefront of the mural success are the students who had the idea, designed the mural, and did the painting work. I am so proud of them. Their hard work and team effort paid off to result in a beautiful mural that will brighten up our community for years to come, reminding us of the important message to love one another.”

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Adrianna shared her feelings about the finished mural.

“I’m really happy with the mural. It’s big and beautiful and everyone can see it,” she said. “I’ll remember it for a long time. I want people who pass it to know how hard we worked and that KMS is a good place and to remember to love one another. The ‘Love One Another’ quote means we need to love and respect one another. Loving someone means being kind to them, being there for them, and supporting them. The process making the mural was fun. I got closer to the kids in my group. We learned about teamwork. We met some nice people. It was a fun, relaxing, bonding experience. It was a big moment for all of us when we saw the mural put up and we thought ‘We did that.’ I want to say thank you to everyone who helped us and made the mural happen.”