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Kohala Middle School students present at the Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity

<p>From left, Kohala Middle school students Gabriella Boyle and Kiera Javillonar present at Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity at the Convention Center on Oahu. (PHOTO COURTESY OF KOHALA MIDDLE SCHOOL)</p>

From left, Kohala Middle school students Gabriella Boyle and Kiera Javillonar present at Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity at the Convention Center on Oahu. (PHOTO COURTESY OF KOHALA MIDDLE SCHOOL)

On April 30, Kohala Middle school students Gabriella Boyle and Kiera Javillonar helped facilitate a lesson for approximately 50 students and adults during a presentation at the 29th annual Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity. These students, as well as teachers Amber Corrales and Wendy Nickl, were sponsored to attend and present at this conference by the Growing Pono Schools Project, a program in partnership with the school to help create their student Advisory program.

The GPS Project is funded through the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Center on Disability Studies, which sponsors this annual conference. GPS Project staff member Randee Golden has been working with teachers and students at Kohala Middle School for the past two years to plan and facilitate weekly lessons that help students learn more about themselves, their community, and the place they call home.

The lesson these students shared is from a story about the Bowl of Light, first introduced to KMS teachers years ago by Kumu Raylene Kawaiae‘a. This story, which helps people learn about keeping strong and positive, is found in a book entitled “Tales from the Night Rainbow,” by Koko Willis and Pali Jae Lee.

“It was wonderful seeing Ella and Kiera confidently share the Bowl of Light story and help facilitate a discussion with the group. They represented their school well and we are very proud of them,” said Golden.

Pono Life Skills lessons are being created for students, grades 4-12, by the GPS Project staff in collaboration with Department of Education teachers and cultural educators from Alu Like, Inc. Funds for the curriculum development project are through a U.S. Department of Education Native Hawaiian grant. Teachers can look for additional lessons to be posted online this summer at the GPS Project website, which offers various resources to help students learn about living pono, or doing the right thing. Visit www.growingponoschools.com.