by Erin Hardin
Miss Hawaii Junior High America 2018 is Waialua’s own Pawehimaikaleikaumakailihiaokalani Kaira Sanoe Binz – but just call her “Pawehi.” Pawehi is an 8th grader at WHIS and has been doing pageants since the age of six. Her dance director, Mrs. Kristi Kashimoto-Rowbottom who runs the pageants, encouraged her to try it out. She loved it and plans to continue doing pageants as often as she can. Pawehi loves singing, dancing, and acting, and previously won the title of Miss Hawai’i Elementary 2015.
Pawehi has been at WHIS for a year and has enjoyed it so far, “It’s been good. I like it here. My favorite subject is science and the hardest class for me has been English.” Pawehi is a part of the first class to experience the middle school-high school split, and she says, “I really don’t mind it, although there are some middle school students who still interact with high schoolers.”
“I love doing pageants because it has helped me build my confidence from a young age and made community service a priority for me,” she said. And the best thing about participating in pageants? Pawehi answered, “The excitement of being able to create a platform to help our state and community. Being able to help the community has opened my eyes to issues happening in the world, enabling me to act locally and lend a hand to those in need.”
One downside of winning were people reacting to her negatively because of her titles. Some people have treated me differently,” she admits, “People have teased me for doing pageants, and have even stopped talking to me, but I still have my real friends who know who I am, and support me in what I do.” Pawehi brushes it off and handles it maturely by not letting anybody bring her down or stand in the way of achieving her goals. An anti-bullying campaign is included in her platform as a way to help her friends and school.
In addition, as part of her platform, she recently worked at a formal ball supporting Ho’ola Na Pua, to raise funds for females who were used in sex trafficking and help them get better physically, emotionally, as well as reintegrate them back into society. Pawehi is also involved in the GEMS STEM sorority whose goal is to empower girls and teach them to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Pawehi plans on continuing her pageant career and hopes to win more titles in the future. It is great to see younger students interested in making a difference, and her platform continues to spread throughout the island and inspire others to be a helping hand within the community. Her mom, O’a Binz said, “I’m so very proud of the goals Pāwehi has set for herself. Watching her pursue her goals, climbing mountains and falling at times all makes for a wonderful journey. Despite reaching her goals it never stopped her from giving back to the community. Her character, her determination, her strength, all make me so very proud to be her mom.”