Windward Community College and Starbucks champion literacy through young poets' contest

Windward Community College
Libby Young, (808) 235-7395
Star Poets Coordinator
Posted: May 22, 2008

Poetry lovers of all ages are invited to a "Star Poets Celebration" at Windward Community College‘s Paliku Theatre, sponsored by WCC and Starbucks Coffee Hawaii on Sunday, May 25.

The event from 1 to 3 p.m. will feature a reading and awards ceremony for the 78 winners of the 2008 Star Poets contest, a statewide competition for public and private school students in grades 3 - 12. More than $10,200 in prizes will be presented to the students and their teachers in support of literacy programs. Also, Kealoha, the founder of HawaiiSlam and host of First Thursdays, the largest registered slam poetry competition in the world, will perform some of his work. Kealoha's spoken word poetry has been recorded on award-winning albums, and he has also represented Hawaii in national poetry slams.

The students‘ pieces were chosen from more than 4,500 entries, with the top five poems in each grade published in the Star Poets Journal, a publication distributed to all Hawaiʻi Starbucks stores. All the winning poems, including the honorable mention pieces, will also appear on the Windward Community College Web site at "We continue to be amazed at the response to this project," said Star Poets coordinator and WCC professor Libby Young. "These days we hear a great deal about the importance of basic skills. Poetry is a terrific way to help students find their voice and appreciate the power of words. Every year we wish we could share more of the wonderful entries we receive. But we take heart in knowing that students are out there, across the state, keeping the magic of poetry alive."

Jill Wheatman, Starbucks community relations manager, explained the project has become a real partnership to support reading, writing and creative thinking among students. "Starbucks Coffee is dedicated to supporting literacy efforts in Hawaiʻi," she said. "We hope to continue the growth of this program in the years to come."

In additional recognition for the program, 18 previous Star Poets winners have been published in "Honolulu Stories," a major collection of two centuries of writing edited by Gavan Daws and Bennett Hymer. For more details on the Star Poets project, call 235-7396 or email