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In addition to success in the classroom and in several sports, Arissa Kahaialiʻi KSM’23 has been heavily involved in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Maui, a dedication that recently earned her a major honor.

Recent KS Maui grad named Hawaiʻi Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of America

May 30, 2023

“Sometimes it takes the small steps, not the giant ones to bring the biggest change.”

Recent Kamehameha Schools Maui graduate Arissa Kahaialiʻi KSM’23 found herself holding back tears while offering up that kernel of wisdom in a speech that helped her earn the Youth of the Year honor for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Kahaialiʻi was selected over dozens of other Hawaiʻi students to claim the title which recognizes youth who demonstrate outstanding leadership, service and academic excellence. She was honored in April during a ceremony at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol.

Kahahaialiʻi first joined the Boys & Girls Clubs of Maui’s Lahaina Clubhouse when she was nine years old. Her parents worked, and being a latchkey keiki, she found the clubhouse a fun and safe after-school environment. Kahaialiʻi’s connection to the club continued after she arrived at the ʻAʻapueo campus in the ninth grade, an impressive feat as she also competed in volleyball, water polo and swimming for KSM.

The journey to earn this honor began earlier this school year. While there is plenty of paperwork, speechwriting and speech delivery are two of the main components of the competition. Kahaialiʻi admits public speaking, especially when touching on personal life experiences, is well outside her comfort zone. “Sharing my story was kind of hard for me because I don't really like to talk about myself a lot with other people,” Kahaialiʻi said.

Public speaking kumu Camille Romero taught Kahaialiʻi during her freshman and senior years and is thrilled with her success. “The fact that this opportunity happened and that she saw it and took it to such a level, is an amazing demonstration of the E Ola! speaking standards. I'm just so proud of her,” Romero said.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America honor includes a $2,500 scholarship which will come in handy when Kahaialiʻi attends Northern Arizona University in the fall. Prior to starting college, Kahaialiʻi will represent Hawaiʻi in the regional comepetition, aiming to advance and compete for National Youth of the Year.

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