Student essay contest on Eddie Aikau extends deadline

On the water, the Eddie is off. But on paper, it’s still on.

That’s the Eddie Aikau Essay Contest, the student writing competition held in conjunction with the surf contest honoring the heroic surfer and lifeguard. The original deadline for essay submissions has expired, but now the Eddie Aikau Foundation has extended its deadine and will accept submissions until Saturday. Meanwhile, the surfing competition, the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, has been canceled due to COVID-19.

“We decided to move forward with (the essay contest) year, despite everything, because it’s a positive thing,” said Linda Ipsen, Aikau’s former wife and now secretary for the Aikau Foundation.

The essay contest, held since 2006, usually attracts more than 300 entries from students grades 7-10. Essays can be written in Hawaiian as well as English. “Our Hawaiian-language judges, who come from the Hawaiian Studies Department at UH, they always tell us they’re always amazed at the quality of the Hawaiian language essays we receive,” Ipsen said.

Students are asked to respond to a prompt about Aikau, which this year refers to his empathy and compassion (aloha and menemene) toward strangers and people from other cultures. The essay should also reflect how the student has demonstrated those qualities in his or her own life.

“We felt it was a great way to get the kids to talk a little about everything that’s happening in their lives here,” Ipsen said.

Essays should be about 1,000 words, or about two pages double-spaced. Awards range from $500 for first place to $100 for honorable mention.

Submissions must be postmarked — or time-stamped if sent by email — by Saturday.

Visit for more information, including an entry form. Winners will be announced Oct. 19 on the website.

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