Here, in this unique island state, school spirit is exhibited in so many ways that, when deciding on a cover photo for our upcoming fall issue, I couldn’t pick only one. Usually, when picking what will grace the front of the magazine, I can see an image and immediately know it is the one. Over the years, I have had some favorites: In 2012, when I saw the image by Jun Jo documenting boar hunting on Oʻahu (one of our most controversial covers), I knew that was the one to showcase the everyday men featured in the issue doing extraordinary things. A year later, for our Stewardship issue, when I saw the image of Dave DeLeon on a John Deere tractor amidst a lush citrus orchid, I knew it captured the complex idea of what it means to be a good steward.

This wasn’t as easy for School Spirit. In the black-and-white version photographed by Jonathan Canlas, defensive-back Kekaula Kaniho instills a sense of pride: He’s a star football player and senior at Kahuku High and Intermediate School who has been offered full-ride scholarships to a slew of colleges, including Washington State University and Vanderbilt University. For Kaniho, and the many others who don Red Raiders jerseys, football is not merely a sport, but an exercise in opportunity.

The other cover, photographed by IJfke Ridgley, couldn’t be more different. In it are three hula dancers from Lahainaluna High School, the oldest high school west of the Mississippi. They are getting ready for a performance for the school’s annual David Malo Day Ho‘olaulea, which celebrates nearly two centuries of island history. In this, we saw an opportunity to represent hula as part of Hawai‘i’s unique cultural curriculum.

Our covers portray Hawai‘i as it is, but there also is something idealistic there, too: a sense of a Hawai‘i that could be, and the people who will get us there. In spite of the dizzying political and social climate we find ourselves in today, the youth featured on our two School Spirit covers give me pause for hope.

Order one or both cover versions of the school spirit issue, or an annual subscription, here.