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16-year-old Honolulu Student Wins 'Paint-the-Plane' Contest

HONOLULU, Jan. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Alaska Airlines announced today that Aaron Nee, 16, of Honolulu is the winner of the "Spirit of the Islands" Paint-the-Plane contest. His artwork will adorn an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft honoring the unique culture of the Aloha State. As the grand prize winner, Nee will also receive a trip for four to any of the carrier's destinations and a $5,000 scholarship.

Known for his artistic ability and interest in graphic design and athletics, Nee was informed by airline representatives that his design won the statewide contest during a surprise announcement today. The Kaiser High School junior is a nearly straight-A student and a decorated member of the school's Air Force ROTC program.

Nee's winning design displays a voyaging canoe depicting how Polynesians first arrived in the Hawaiian Islands, a bright yellow hibiscus (the state flower), the Hawaiian Island chain and the phrase "Spirit of the Islands."

Nee said he plans to invest his $5,000 for college and will take his family to visit relatives in New York, where he hopes to see snow for the first time.

The judging panel, comprised of Hawaii artists, educators and other local community members, carefully scored and selected the three top designs from more than 2,700 submissions created by students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The contest was sponsored by Alaska Airlines, the Hawaii State Department of Education and Hawaii Association of Independent Schools.

The public participated in an online vote of the three finalist designs. More than 7,000 votes were cast, with Nee's submission receiving 4,013 votes. Izabela Hamilton, a 12th grader at Seabury Hall on the Island of Maui, placed second for her design featuring a male and female hula dancer against a backdrop of ocean waves and windswept mountain cliffs. Sophia Cleek, a sixth grader at Kapolei Middle School on the Island of Oahu, placed third for her design depicting a voyaging canoe sailing around the Islands. Hamilton and Cleek will each receive a trip for four to any Alaska Airlines destination and a $1,000 scholarship.

"We're thrilled with Aaron's beautiful design depicting some of the most iconic features of the Aloha State and look forward to sharing his plane across our route network," said Mark Bocchi, Alaska Airlines' managing director of sales and community marketing. "We were awestruck by the creativity of all the designs that were submitted. We applaud Izabela and Sophia for their stunning artwork as well as the 10 honorable mentions whose designs stood out as the best from their grade level."

The honorable mention winners were also announced today and will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship each. Many of these designs featured the Islands' natural beauty, ocean and wildlife, and popular local activities such as surfing and canoe paddling. Other designs boasted Hawaii's unique geography and many designs depicted King Kamehameha I, who united the Hawaiian Islands into one royal kingdom in 1810.

"The 'Spirit of the Islands' contest has been a wonderful partnership with Alaska Airlines and has provided a fantastic opportunity for some of the best student artists in our public schools to showcase their talents," said Kathryn Matayoshi, Hawaii State Department of Education superintendent. "Congratulations to Aaron and the other student winners who have made us all proud."

Honorable Mentions

Cody Mar
Ewa Beach, Oahu
Holomua Elementary School

Madalyn Mattson
Waikoloa, Hawaii Island
Grade 1
Waikoloa Elementary School

Kaycee Hansberry
Grade 2
Salt Lake Elementary School

Kayla Kuahuia
Waipahu, Oahu
Grade 3
Aiea Elementary School

Yali Santillan Alvarez
Grade 4
Kahala Elementary School

Marina Garcia
Pearl City, Oahu
Grade 5
Lehua Elementary School

Tiana Hamamoto
Aiea, Oahu
Grade 7
Punahou School

Rebecca Lopez
Ewa Beach, Oahu
Grade 8
Ilima Intermediate School

Dillon Palalay-Valenzuela
Lihue, Kauai
Grade 9
Kauai High School

Xochitt Cornejo
Kailua, Oahu
Grade 10
La Pietra - Hawaii's School for Girls

To view the top winning and honorable mention designs, visit

The final design of the "Spirit of the Islands" will be unveiled during a special event at Honolulu International Airport later this year and the aircraft will fly to all cities throughout Alaska Airlines' route network.

Editor's note: A high resolution image of Nee receiving his award is available on the Alaska Airlines Newsroom image gallery at

About Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines, a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK), together with its partner regional airlines, serves 95 cities through an expansive network in Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. Alaska Airlines has ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Network Carriers" in the J.D. Power and Associates North America Airline Satisfaction StudySM for five consecutive years from 2008 to 2012. For reservations, visit For more news and information, visit the Alaska Airlines Newsroom at

About the Hawaii State Department of Education
The Hawaii State Department of Education is the nation's only statewide educational system serving 183,000 students attending more than 280 schools.

SOURCE Alaska Airlines

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