Inspiration from students

April 27th, 2011

Mahalo to the high school journalists from around the state for once again making my day. Each year the Hawaii Publishers Association sponsors a contest and luncheon for them.

I put some time into judging entries, but receive way more in return because I get the opportunity to meet some of them, as well as their advisors, talk story over lunch, and help them celebrate their best efforts.

Their positive energy and enthusiasm is always contagious and makes me want to do better.

Kamehameha Maui won the overall title. Star-Advertiser education reporter Mary Vorsino delivered an excellent speech.

I actually knew one of the student journalists at the luncheon: Michel Trapasso, the son of University of Hawaii baseball coach Mike Trapasso. Michel is a senior at Mid-Pacific and a sportswriter for Na Pueo, MPI’s paper. Michel’s going to UH next year. He plans on eventually going to law school and maybe becoming a sports agent.

I got to sit with Thaddeus Padua, who is the editor-in-chief of the Pearl City High School Messenger, 32 years after I was. He’s a bright, thoughtful guy who had a smile on his face the entire lunch. Enjoyed meeting his parents, Tony and Sandra, also. Thaddeus has strong interests in graphic media, as well as engineering.

Also, at the table, the Moanalua contingent, senior staffers from Na Hoku Moanalua and advisor Helen Lau. Lindsey Txakeeyang (editor-in-chief), Trishia Yada (features editor), Marisa Kuga (staff writer), Jessica Leung (art director) and Clinton Winham (features editor, sports editor).

When Clinton’s name was announced as the winner of the award for the best public school sports story of the year he was so happy and excited that he was shaking.

“I was just so stoked,” said Clinton, who deftly profiled Moanalua math teacher and super sports fan Jason Nagaoka. “Journalism can be thankless sometimes.”

I was even more impressed with his reaction when Jessica won the state’s top award for illustration. He was more excited than when his name was called. You can tell the guy’s  a good teammate — Clinton played football, basketball and volleyball at Moanalua.

“He’s an all-around helpful guy,” said Helen Lau, the advisor. “He teams well with others to get things done.”

Clinton, who interns at, is going on to study journalism at the University of Oregon in the fall. I’m pretty sure you’ll be seeing his byline on a regular basis in the not-too-distant future, that is if sports journalism is fortunate enough to hang on to him.

I also got to talk with Rebecca Dang of the Hawaii Baptist Eagle Eye. She won the statewide sportswriting award. She wrote a very well-researched story about how Guillain-Barre Syndrome affected HBA athlete Jana Tanouye. This story especially touched home for me, since my brother’s high school sports career was affected by the same rare illness.

Rebecca played basketball at HBA. She agreed that the teamwork skills she learned on the court helped her on the school paper staff, too.

“Everybody helps each other out,” said Rebecca, who plans to major in biology at UH. “This was my first year (on the newspaper), so it showed me I can write if I have to.”

33 Responses to “Inspiration from students”

  1. Jason:

    Congratulations, Clinton! He had to twist my arm before I agreed to be interviewed for the article. I still don’t know why he wanted to write about me–kinda embarrassing! But he’s a talented young man, and I’m proud of him. Also proud of Lindsey, Trishia, and Jessica, too!

  2. dreardon:

    Helen Lau said she feels very fortunate to have had a great team of senior leaders in her first year as advisor.

  3. John C:

    Some of these liko should apply for Big Island Press Club scholarships for aspiring journalists. It’s probably too late for this year, but they could establish contact for next year.

  4. janalyn:

    what are we gonna do we should help them out…

  5. dreardon:

    John, is the Big Island Press Club in contact with the Hawaii Publishers Association? If so, I’m sure they could publicize the scholarships to the advisors. If an HPA contact is needed, I can provide.

  6. allan suematsu:

    Dave, you’re an excellent writer with a lot of heart for your profession and our community.

    Thanks for all the great things you do.

  7. Dave Reardon:

    Thanks Allan. But I really do get a lot out of it when interacting with the young folks.

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