SHYLI students teach hydroponics at Waimea School

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KaMele Sanchez and Sherry Anne Pancho teach in Susan Ho’s third grade class at Waimea Elementary School. (PHOTO COURTESY OF HONOKAA HIGH SCHOOL FOR NHN)

This past January, three alumni of both the Waimea Elementary and Middle schools returned to their alma mater to teach the upcoming generation about plant growth process and hydroponics.

Sherry Anne Pancho, Patrick Cootey, and KaMele Sanchez attended Waimea schools from kindergarten to eighth grade, were all students of Susan Ho and are now students of Manuel Jadulang’s Natural Resources Program at Honokaa High and Intermediate. Pancho and Sanchez are youth delegates of the Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative, and their sustainability-in-action project educates students around the island on hydroponics. The two students, along with Cootey and their friend Elliott Sabado, visited the WES students and arranged to teach and conduct a science experiment with the entire third grade class.

“Each third grader was able to create their very own hydroponic unit,” said Pancho. “Over the next two weeks they were supposed to measure the growth rate of their plant.”

The group did encounter a couple of setbacks, though.

“Some of the plants died after the two weeks,” said Sanchez, “so when we went back to see the kids, we talked about reasons why they might have died. They were a bit sad — but, hey — that’s just how science goes! Trial and error, so we set them up with new vegetable seedlings to try again.”

“It was great to come back to teach and to see Mrs. Ho,” Cootey said. “I feel like a giant walking through these halls again. I think that the kids learned a lot, and they like me, so they have good taste.”

To learn more about SHYLI, visit shyli.org.