From Hawai'i to New York
By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser Staff Writer
Letters written by six Hawai'i students after the Sept. 11 attacks will appear in a commemorative book to be published near the anniversary of the disaster and given to rescue workers and the families of the more than 2,800 victims.
Deborah Booker The Honolulu Advertiser
Koko Head Elementary student Shay Chun sent a letter to New York to show aloha to those suffering after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Deborah Booker The Honolulu Advertiser
The Hawai'i letters selected were written by five fifth-graders from Waiakeawaena Elementary School on the Big Island and a second-grader from Koko Head Elementary School on O'ahu.
The students are Shay Chun of Koko Head Elementary and Shanna Carreira, Deanna Jackson, Frantasia Kekaualua, Ty Miyashita and Scott Conol-Pavao of Waiakeawaena Elementary.
Each of the children whose letters are included will get a copy of the book, which will not be offered for sale.
The letters were selected by Libby Pataki, wife of New York Gov. George Pataki.
"Your child's letter helped George and I get through the terrible days, weeks and months that followed the darkest day in American history," Libby Pataki wrote to parents in letters announcing their children's selection. "We would like to share your child's inspirational message with the people who need it the most, the families."
The Hawai'i children were among hundreds in the state and worldwide who wrote letters as part of classwork following the terrorist attacks as educators tried to help students channel their feelings of seeing jetliners slamming into the World Trade Center into positive forms of expression.
"We are trying to give you aloha (and) that means hello and love,"
7-year-old Shay Chun wrote in her two-page letter. "I hope you have enough money for a house, food and clothes. ... I hope the families that lost there (sic) dads will fell (sic) better soon. I hope they make America safe."
In the case of the Hilo students, it was their drawings that particularly drew the attention of Libby Pataki, said her chief of staff, Wilson Kimball.
"Their messages were sweet, but Mrs. Pataki loved their artwork," said Kimball. "The vision of the artwork depicting a better globe, those images more than the words appealed to Mrs. Pataki. It was next to impossible to choose the letters. Every child had something special to say."
Deanna Jackson's letter includes clouds and angels superimposed over an American flag.
She wrote: "I feel really sorry for all the people who lost loved ones, but we did not lose special and innocent people, we have only gained angels."
Scott Conol-Pavao, who has since changed schools, drew the world as a heart, with the people of the world standing around it.
He wrote: "I love our island and our people. I would give my heart to everyone in our whole nation."
Frantasia Kekaualua wrote: "Everyone is different in their own shapes and sizes, but even when they're black or white you should always love them."
Shanna Carreira's letter was based on diversity and patriotism. Her drawing shows three women, one white, one Asian and one black, holding hands, with the American flag in the background. Her inscription says, "We have liberty and nobody can take that away."
Ty Miyashita, too, wrote in a patriotic vein.
"We won't lose this battle because God blessed America," he wrote. "We've won World War I and II, we'll win this war too. Stand together like the red, white and blue."
The students said they think their letters probably made New Yorkers feel better. They also said they feel safer now because of steps taken since Sept. 11.
"I feel better ... because people are watching out for us," said Shanna, 11.
The five were students of Sandra Nucci and Charlene Miyashiro.
Nucci was surprised and pleased at the students' selection for the book.
The goal was not to be published in a book but to enhance a discussion of fifth-graders whose focus this year has been American history, Nucci said.
Letters also were chosen from students in Australia, England, Canada and from nearly every state, Kimball said.
Koko Head alone sent about 100 letters, said Cecilia Lum, school principal.
"There were so many good letters," Lum said. "I wouldn't have known which one to select, myself."
The words written by Shay Chun came with no prompting from her parents, said Lisa Chun, Shay's mother.
"I was so excited when we heard," Lisa Chun said. "I was so proud of her. The words really came from her heart."
Advertiser staff writer Hugh Clark contributed to this report.