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Kealakehe and Konawaena Debate Club Students Go To Court

Posted on May 22, 2023 in Featured News, News & Reports, Press Releases
Image of Third Circuit Chief Judge Robert Kim speaking to students. Deputy Sheriffs Lynn Furuto and Dustin Ballesteros also spoke.

Third Circuit Chief Judge Robert Kim encourages students to “aim high.” Deputy Sheriffs Lynn Furuto and Dustin Ballesteros also spoke.

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaiʻi – Debate Club students from Kealakehe Intermediate School and Konawaena Middle School spent a recent Friday morning at the Keahuolū Courthouse learning about the three branches of government, the judicial process, courtroom procedures, as well as employment opportunities within the judicial system.

Judges, attorneys from Prosecutor’s and Public Defender’s offices, social workers from Adult Probation and Drug Court/Veterans Court, as well as Sheriffʻs deputies also talked about their jobs.

The students were very engaged, asked thoughtful questions about the judicial system, and gained useful information and tips to incorporate into their debate team activities, such as the importance of civility, even while disagreeing with one another. They learned that you can argue your point in a respectful manner.

Image of Kauanoe Jackson speaking to students.

Hawaiʻi island Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kauanoe Jackson speaks to the students. Jackson is a Konawaena graduate.

The students also asked the speakers about the challenges of their jobs, salary, educational and training requirements, and how much of that goes into doing their job on a day-to-day basis.

“The kids were still talking about it Monday morning, so it certainly made a positive impact,” said Konawaena Middle School teacher Emily Threlkeld. “I was blown away that so many professionals took the time to talk with the kids, and I thought the emphasis on the educational prerequisites needed for the various jobs positions was something they often do not get to hear.”

The students were encouraged to be engaged in government and their community, to vote, follow their passions, and that they each have the ability to become anything they want to be.

“You are our future leaders, so aim high,” said Third Circuit Chief Judge Robert D.S. Kim.

All of the speakers encouraged the students to stay in school and that if they decide to go away to college, to consider returning to the Big Island to give back and serve their community.

Kealakehe Intermediate School teacher Julia Castro said she was grateful that her students had the opportunity to learn more about the judicial branch of government and the various job pathways students can take if they are interested in civic engagement and advocacy. “Many have expressed a newfound interest in the legal field and social work,” she added.

The teachers are already making arrangements to return to court in the fall and, perhaps, bring students from other classes as well.

For more information, contact the Communications and Community Relations Office at 808-539-4909 or via email at

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