Hickam Elementary School fifth-grader wins island-wide HECO award

Ashley Zadel, a Hickam Elementary fifth grader, holds one of the sea glass charms she made as part of the Hawaiian Electric Company's 2012 Sustainable Gift Contest. Her charms were the winning entry for the island-wide contest in the kindergarten to fifth grade category.

Story and photo by Jazzmin Williams

Contributing Writer

Ashley Zadel, a 10-year-old fifth grade student at Hickam Elementary School, won an award in the Hawaiian Electric Company’s (HECO) 2012 Sustainable Gift Contest on April 28.

“I couldn’t even take her photo, I was shaking,” said Shannon Tanabe-Clark, Zadel’s fifth-grade teacher. “I was extremely excited and happy for her.”

HECO created the contest to raise awareness of the dangers of metallic balloons so often seen at graduation. When released, the balloons can get tangled in power lines and cause power out-ages.

Students interested in entering the contest first had to do research on the damage metallic balloons could cause and write an essay, according to Tanabe-Clark. They had to submit a hand-made sustainable graduation gift alternative.

“I thought it was cool that they wanted to make gifts out of recyclables, and when I started doing research about the whole Mylar balloon effect, I wanted to try a new start,” Zadel said.

Zadel, the daughter of Lt. Col. Jeremy Zadel and his wife Sonja, made small charms out of sea glass and wire, winning the kindergarten through fifth grade category. She credited always having a fascination with sea glass as part of her inspiration. With some trial and error and help from her mother, Zadel perfected her technique.

After being chosen to be one of 29 finalists, Zadel was invited to the HECO Grow Hawaiian Festival held at Bishop Museum. There her creations were on display alongside other finalists, and attendees of the event assessed and voted on the best ones. Entries were judged on originality, creativity and gift appeal.

“I was shocked, but not as shocked as I planned I would be if I won,” Zadel said. “I was pretty calm.”

For her efforts, Zadel received an iPad 2 and $100 for her class. When asked what the $100 would be used for, Zadel’s answer was simple.

“Our end of the year party,” Zadel said with a smile.

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Category: News