Piʻikea Kekīhenelehuawewehiikekauʻōnohi Lopes, a teacher candidate in the UH Mānoa College of Education (COE) Master of Education in Teaching (MEdT) program, was named Miss Aloha Hula at the 2022 Merrie Monarch Festival where she also won the Office of Hawaiian Affairs ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) award. She received a judge’s score of 1,168 points, a 63-point lead ahead of the other nine contestants, as well as a perfect score of 50 for the Hawaiian language award.
Lopes, who earned her bachelor’s degree in Hawaiian Language from the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language under the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, belongs to the Ka La ‘Onohi Mai o Ha‘eha‘e halau under the direction of her parents, Tracie and Keawe Lopes. Her mother was the Miss Aloha Hula winner in 1994.
“My parents are both products of the MEdT program and have shared some of their experiences with me throughout my undergraduate years,” said Lopes. “I feel that I can make the most impact as a teacher in regards to the continuation of our ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. I have been inspired by many of my kumu and strive to be that inspiration for my future students. This program is also allowing me to teach at a Hawaiian Immersion school, which is what I want because my foundation in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi was built and nourished at Ke Kula Kaiapuni o Ānuenue in Pālolo.”
A graduate assistant at the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language, Lopes says that the MEdT program has given her a new perspective on teaching and has taught her to be flexible as well as to love being different from everyone else. “Not every teacher is the same,” she stated. “There is no ‘only one way’ or ‘one size fits all.’ I want to thank my cohort, classmates, and teachers for being very supportive and great friends.”
MEdT Assistant Specialist M. Kauaanuhea Lenchanko said, “Ua hōʻike maila nō ʻo Piʻikea i ka hopena o ke ʻaʻa ʻana i ka hula a me ka waiho ʻana i ka hilahila ma ka hale. He mahalo nō hoʻi kēia a ka mahele hoʻonaʻauao i kona ʻaʻa ʻana ma nā hana e hoʻomau ʻia ai ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi a me ka ʻike Hawaiʻi.”
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