By TAD SOMMERS
Kealakehe High School senior Guinevere Davenport knows a thing or two about bullying. The self-professed “nerd in the class that’s always been bullied” now has an opportunity to help students stand up for themselves and respect each other.
Davenport, Miss Kona Coffee 2013, had planned to share her anti-bullying message with Kahakai Elementary School third-graders one time, but with the encouragement of school counselor Taryn Reiner, she has made weekly visits to Kahakai part of her schedule for the past seven weeks.
Tuesday morning, she said it’s important to remember “you’re not what the bullies say you are. You can rise above it.”
When she was bullied, Davenport escaped by reading books. She also dealt with bullies by “getting into science and math.” In that way, Davenport said, being bullied actually improved her quality of life.
While still in high school, Davenport takes college courses online and at Hawaii Community College-West Hawaii. When she sets foot on the University of Hawaii at Hilo campus this fall to pursue a degree in medicine, she will enter as a sophomore.
Robert “Romeo” Merchel, a student in Jessica Cabilin’s class, took Davenport’s anti-bullying message to heart. Recently, he and a friend were walking at school, when they noticed a boy who was crying — a bully had pushed him to the ground. Merchel and his friend consoled the crying boy and helped him tell a teacher what had happened.
In addition to talking to students about bullying, Davenport also shared her pageant platform — “encouraging science enthusiasm within future generations.” A platform, she explained, is more than a statement of what you believe or plan to accomplish. You “live in it, do it and tell others,” she told them.
Along with the third-grade teachers, Davenport devised a writing exercise to help students develop their own platforms. Several students focused on bullying or environmental issues.
Deonella Montano chose to “encourage little kids to not do bad stuff.” To that end, she’s already spoken to her little sister about doing good things.
“I don’t want the world to have bad people,” she said. “If we do, the world will be a bad planet.”
Montano, a pupil in Carol Lam’s class, said Davenport’s visits have made a positive impact on campus.
“I think people stopped throwing trash on the floor and stopped bullying,” she said.
Timothy Keanaaina, also a student in Lam’s class, developed a platform dealing with a graffiti problem in the boys bathrooms at Kahakai. “It’s not good to write on other people’s stuff, and it could hurt other people’s feelings,” he said. “Write it on paper, not on other stuff,” he added.
Davenport concluded her final visit of the school year by explaining the symbolism behind the four points on her Miss Kona Coffee crown. The points, she said, represent scholarship, service, style and success. Davenport encouraged the students to do their best in school and be role models in the community. Style, she said, isn’t as much about the clothes you wear as the person you are on the inside, and success can be achieved by just being yourself.
She left the students with one final word of encouragement.
“You may not have the crown on you physically,” she said, but “I can see them on all of you.”
Davenport will compete in The Miss Hawaii Pageant, to be broadcast live on OC 16, beginning at 7 p.m. June 8.
Email Tad Sommers at firstname.lastname@example.org.