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Ho’ola fundraiser to help with Alo Kehau o Ka Aina Mauna School expansion

Three years after opening in Waimea, Alo Kehau o Ka Aina Mauna School is ready to expand. The school will be hosting their second annual Hoʻola, a free community concert on Saturday, March 29 at Kahilu Town Hall in Waimea as a way to raise funds and awareness for the Hawaiian language in North Hawaii.

Alo Kehau is a Hawaiian medium public charter school, which means all subjects are taught in the Hawaiian language and the curriculum is developed from a uniquely Hawaiian perspective. It is a satellite campus of Ke Kula o Nawahiokalaniopuu in Kea’au, a successful laboratory school that has gained international recognition for their rigorous academics and innovative approach to indigenous education.

The school is public and open to all children, not only those of Native Hawaiian ancestry. As the only Hawaiian medium school in North Hawaii, Alo Kehau offers grades K-3 and plans to expand a grade level each year, growing with its students. Critical to this expansion is fundraising — the current goal bring more than $15,000 for a building addition necessary to accommodate current and prospective students.

Since opening in 2011, the school has experienced massive growth, hiring of new teachers, office staff and a flood of kindergartners coming in last fall. Alo Kehau now shares a building with Punana Leo o Waimea preschool, but the classrooms are quickly filling up. Increased awareness about the benefits of this type of education and overcrowded Hawaiian medium schools on other islands mean Hawaiian speaking families are looking for options like Alo Kehau and are willing to relocate to make this happen.

“When you chose this type of education it is a family commitment. You do what you have to in order to make it work,” said one Alo Kehau parent.

The long-term plan for Alo Kehau is for the school to grow with the students and eventually give the community a high quality K-12 Hawaiian language program. The additional classroom will more than double the school’s current capacity and allow them to accommodate all Hawaiian speaking students in the Kohala area. They hope the Ho’ola event will be a stepping stone toward their $15,000 goal and raise the funds necessary to begin construction.

“It was so much fun last year and we are hoping to double the turnout this year,” said Maluhia O’Donnell, kahu of Punana Leo o Waimea. “We want Ho’ola to become a regular, annual event that everyone in the community can look forward to, but this year is especially important because we have an immediate need to address.”

Ho’ola, a free community concert and fundraiser for Hawaiian language programs in Waimea, will be held at Minuke Ole Park (Kahilu Town Hall) on Saturday, March 29, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be musical entertainment, hula performances, cultural demonstrations, craft and food booths, a silent auction, keiki games and much more. This is an alcohol and drug free event. Visit www.facebook.com/punana.leo.o.waimea for more information.