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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 11, 2001

Our Schools • 'Ahuimanu Elementary
'Buddies' help younger students adjust

 •  'Ahuimanu Elementary at a glance

By Alice Keesing
Advertiser Education Writer

There's a spirit of community at 'Ahuimanu Elementary. It starts in kindergarten with the "buddies program" that pairs kindergarten and third-grade classes.

'Ahuimanu Elementary school librarian Patti Marshall leads a class of kindergartners in a reading exercise involving rowing a boat. Marshall has been honored as an outstanding librarian on O'ahu.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

One class of third-graders last week was creating its own "Puss 'n Boots" book, which they will share with their kindergarten buddies, acting as role models and expanding their own learning in the process.

"It helps the kindergartners feel comfortable in school," said Principal Anne Marie Duca.

'Ahuimanu also emphasizes school service, providing numerous opportunities for students to help out on campus while boosting their own social and work skills. Students help keep the library running by stamping and shelving books. Others serve as technology mentors, helping their peers in the computer lab.

And at lunchtime and recess, students in blue "Shapers" T-shirts mingle with the crowd, reminding others not to run and helping resolve any disputes.

• What are you most proud of? "There's a spirit of community at the school," Duca said. "The kids are the focus, and there's a pitch-in-and-help attitude."

• Best-kept secret: School grounds are kept clean and green with help from the Scouts. Scout groups become partners with the school, replenishing flowers in the planters, tidying up the gardens and helping on clean-up days.

• Everybody at our school knows: Librarian Patti Marshall. "She has a magnetic personality," Duca said. "She obviously loves reading, she loves reading to the children and she wants to pass that along to people." Marshall has been honored as an outstanding librarian on O'ahu.

Principal Anne Marie Duca says 'Ahuimanu Elementary students have "a pitch-in-and-help attitude."

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

• Our biggest challenge: "Probably time," Duca said. "Trying to figure out how to schedule, how to plan. We're trying to reorganize our curriculum so everything is always standards-focused, and with the additional demands from Felix (special-education mandates) and with external pressures from the Legislature and community to do the best with what we have — there are only so many hours in the day. A lot of the work is done at night."

• What we need: "I think I'd like to see more volunteers come in," Duca said. "What we've seen is that the volunteer pool has decreased as we have less stay-at-home parents, so we'd just like people who can give just a few hours a week to help in the classrooms, or library or workroom."

• Projects: The big focus is implementing the Department of Education's new standards. The state has outlined what children are expected to know at each grade level. Now 'Ahuimanu is working with a national consultant to develop a chart that lays out the curriculum to reach those goals.

For example, kindergarten students began studying scientific systems, with lessons in the seasons and weather and the life cycles of caterpillars and frogs. By grade 3, they will move on to the human body: the senses, nutrition and health. And in grade 6, they will study the scientific process and prepare science fair projects.

• Special events: 'Ahuimanu will hold its Fun Fair on Oct. 20. The fair will include all-day entertainment, food, a silent auction, activities and games. Mrs. Hawai'i will open the event. Entry is free. Scrip will be available.

• • •

'Ahuimanu Elementary at a glance

Where: 47-470 Hui 'Aeko Place, Kane'ohe

Phone: 239-3125.

Web address: www.ahuimanu.k12.hi.us

Principal: Anne Marie Duca has been principal at 'Ahuimanu for seven years. She began her teaching career at Kaiser and was previously vice principal at Ben Parker.

School mascot: The kolea, or golden plover

School colors: Purple and gold

Enrollment: 'Ahuimanu has 510 students, down from about 570 five years ago. Enrollment has been dropping as the neighborhood population ages and younger families move to other areas. Demographers, however, predict new growth, and the kindergarten classes already have expanded.

SATs: Here's how 'Ahuimanu 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: 96 percent; math: 95 percent. Fifth grade, reading: 85 percent; math: 87 percent.

History: 'Ahuimanu opened in September 1973 to cater to new families in the developing Temple Valley area.

Special Features: 'Ahuimanu is a beautiful campus, adjoining the Valley of the Temples and backed by the towering Ko'olau, which are ribboned with waterfalls on rainy days. The school has several large murals that reflect the history and geography of the area. Students worked with each artist to help develop the concepts and finished product.

Special programs: 21st century after-school drama program. There also are plans for parenting workshops, drug-prevention programs and an expanded outdoor education experience for fifth-graders.

Computers: There are two computers in most of the classrooms, and students start working with them in kindergarten, starting with drawing pictures, typing text and saving. The school also has computers in the library and a computer lab.