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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 9, 2001

Our Schools • Hau'ula Elementary
Windward campus thrives on rural warmth, cooperation

By Kapono Dowson
Advertiser Staff Writer

After two years of lobbying by parents, the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program began at Hau'ula Elementary School in 1998 with two teachers and 21 students. It included only kindergarten and first grade. When school opened last week, enrollment had increased to 73 students with five teachers, covering kindergarten through fifth grade.

Education assistant Leona Tupou, left foreground, and Hawaiian Language Immersion teacher Summer Santiago review math papers of students Palakiko Chandler, Kiana A'Alona and Kawehena Johnson at Hau'ula Elementary School. This year, the school and community worked together to save their May Day Program.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Using stories, songs and chants of the Ko'olauloa Moku — the district on O'ahu from Kualoa to Pupukea that includes Hau'ula, teachers build a sense of identity, culture and place for their students, said Summer Santiago, a teacher in the program.

"We're able to teach them Hawaiian values and lifestyle through the language," said Santiago. "Values like aloha, mahalo, hi'ihi (respect), kuleana (extent of responsibility)."

Referring to an era when students were punished in school for speaking Hawaiian, Santiago said: "The keiki don't realize they're doing something their parents and their grandparents couldn't do."

• What are you most proud of? "The staff and their high energy," said principal Bradley Odagiri. Their energy is really there for the kids."

• Best-kept secret: Caught between the majestic Ko'olau range and the turquoise ocean, Hau'ula Elementary School has a sense of place like no other in the world, said Odagiri. For him, it is the natural environmental beauty and sincere expression of 'ohana that make the school unique.

"Hau'ula is very rural. There's no McDonalds here. It's a mixed community where everyone feels like family. People at the school are genuinely warm. Everyone is auntie so and so or uncle so and so. The children are so special. There's like a glow to the community — an innocence here."

• Everybody at our school knows: There are so many givers. But as Odagiri sees it, the two best known are Annette Santiago, Hau'ula Community Park director, and Mary Ann Long, a community volunteer.

Instrumental in saving May Day (see special events), Santiago supports the school and students in whatever way she can. Long, a retired teacher from the Mainland, is a resident of the area who helps new teachers adjust. She has helped them find places to live and cars to drive.

• Our biggest challenge: "Creating the best educational environment for the kids so they can be successful," Odagiri said.

• What we need: "We don't have playground equipment," Odagiri said. When elementary schools went through safety checks, the school's equipment didn't pass and was removed. Odagiri said he would like to see it replaced.

He also said the school needs more computer equipment to help prepare students for the high-tech world.

• Special event: The school's annual May Day program is a big thing. There is a May Day court. Each grade level rehearses something special. Residents of the area help decorate and prepare. "The whole community shows up," said Odagiri.

Because of the teachers strike in April, the staff had to drop this year's May Day festivities to catch up with instructional time.

"But the community came together," said Odagiri.

Santiago worked with the community to have a May Day program across the street at Hau'ula Park. Students and volunteers worked outside of school time to put together a modified program for the school and the community. May Day was saved for all of Hau'ula.

 •  WHERE: 54-046 Kamehameha Highway, Hau'ula.
 •  PHONE: 293-8925.
 •  PRINCIPAL: Bradley Odagiri as of January 2001.
 •  SCHOOL COLORS: Gold and green.
 •  ENROLLMENT: 326 students in Grades K-6; 73 of those students are in the school's K-5 Hawaiian Language Immersion program.
 •  SATS: Here's how Hau'ula Elementary students fared on the most recent Stanford Achievement Test. Listed is the combined percentage of students scoring average and above average, compared with the national combined average of 77 percent. Third-grade reading, 85 percent; math, 87 percent. Fifth-grade reading, 79 percent; math, 72 percent.
 •  HISTORY: The school was founded 101 years ago by the Territory of Hawai'i Department of Public Instruction. Last year, the students created a tile mural 3 feet high and 33 feet wide for the school's 100th anniversary . The mural, displayed at the school's entrance, depicts the history of Hau'ula and was done with the help of artist Thomas Deir.
 •  SPECIAL PROGRAMS OR CLASSES: Though not a part of the Department of Education, two preschool programs exist on campus. Odagiri said both Headstart and the Kamehameha Preschool programs have made a big difference in students' academic performances.
 •  COMPUTERS: There is one in each class and one computer lab with a resource teacher.