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‘Ai Pono Initiative brings together Waimea Middle School and voyagers

The crews of the Hokule’a and Hikianali’a had barely made land-fall in the Cook Islands after a treacherous several days in rough seas, but they managed to make a phone call to talk to WMS students during the Opening Day Assembly Friday, Aug. 1. (PHOTO COURTESY OF WMS)
The crews of the Hokule’a and Hikianali’a had barely made land-fall in the Cook Islands after a treacherous several days in rough seas, but they managed to make a phone call to talk to WMS students during the Opening Day Assembly Friday, Aug. 1. (PHOTO COURTESY OF WMS)
Wearing the bandanas that were made by WMS students last year, Hokule’a crew members send their aloha and gratitude from the Cook Islands during the schools Opening Day student assembly. They are from left, back row, Maulili Dickson, Keala kahuanui, PWO Navigator Chadd Paishon, Quartermaster Mike Manu, Kala Thomas. Front Row, left, Lei`ohu Colburn and Kaniela Anakalea-Buckley. (PHOTO COURTESY OF WMS)
Wearing the bandanas that were made by WMS students last year, Hokule’a crew members send their aloha and gratitude from the Cook Islands during the schools Opening Day student assembly. They are from left, back row, Maulili Dickson, Keala kahuanui, PWO Navigator Chadd Paishon, Quartermaster Mike Manu, Kala Thomas. Front Row, left, Lei`ohu Colburn and Kaniela Anakalea-Buckley. (PHOTO COURTESY OF WMS)

Waimea Middle School students are using the 2013-2016 world-wide voyages of the Hokule’a and Hikianali’a to enhance the skills they learn in school. As part of the planning of the ‘Ai Pono Initiative, students, teachers, advisors and many others are involved in this important voyage being undertaken.

“For the first time, our students have a voyage that is theirs. They weren’t born in the 1970s, but they are (present) here with this voyage, and we owe it to them to keep them involved in it,” said Pua Case, ‘WMS ‘Ike Hawai’i resource teacher.

The schoolwide chant, entitled “Malana Mai Ka’u,” was introduced at the voyager’s send-off in May. It is also being taught to other schools and community members. (See box.) Case explained that this Hokule’a chant is being included in this year’s school lessons, as well as helping to keep the students engaged and involved in the voyage.

Master Navigator Chadd Paishon spoke about the Hokule’a as a tool and model of teamwork for the WMS students.

“They brought down tape measures, to measure the canoe, the depth, the width, looking at how much capacity we had within our food containers. How much food we could carry, how long it would last looking at our water containers, looking at the crew members, how many days we would be at sea, how much food and water we would need,” Paishon explained.

Students used math and other skills to understand the planning required for a voyage. They learned to understand how much the crew must work together in order to make a successful voyage.

Added Paishon, “These metaphors for the voyaging canoes … we create the support system. Likewise within our schools; they can create that same environment, that same voyage for their school year.”

The ‘Ai Pono Initiative is a partnership with the school garden networks, The Kohala Center’s Ku ‘Aina Program and the Na Kalai Waa ‘ohana.

“It began with a challenge from Chadd to the cohort a few years back,” said Lehua Ah Sam, program coordinator with Na Kalai Waa. “Can our island feed and sustain our canoe? Waimea Middle School is working on packaging and preserving the vegetables they grow to provide food for the world wide voyage, and for our canoe programs here in Hawaii that service our community.”

Ah Sam added that “it’s wonderful that the kids get to see that the food they grow sustains the canoes.”

The ‘E Lauhoe Waa Educator Development Program’ is a one-year program for community educators who are looking to infuse their learning environments with voyaging.

“Last year’s cohorts included Holly Sargeant-Green and Barbara Haight,” said Ah Sam. “This year, Holly and Barbara are returning for a second year and are being joined by Amanda Rieux, who works with the (WMS) school garden.”

At the beginning of this school year, the students gathered for their Opening Day Assembly. The crews of both Hokule’a and Hikianali’a had just reached Rarotonga and Mike Manu, one of the crew members called in to talk about their voyage.

“They were able to plug the cell phone into the sound system, and the students could listen to Manu talk to Pua Case,” said Patti Cook. “It was a ‘chicken skin’ moment for all. It was perfect timing to drive home our schoolwide ‘Ike Hawaii theme this year of “Malama Honua,” (Take Care of the Earth), which is also the theme of Hokule’a’s world wide voyage.