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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 27, 2001

Our Schools • Ali'iolani Elementary
Students help artist create gigantic 75th anniversary mural

 •  Ali'iolani Elementary at a glance

By Alice Keesing
Advertiser Education Writer

As the culminating event of its 75th anniversary celebration, Ali'iolani Elementary School this month dedicated a giant mural that is the pride of the campus.

Part of a mural created by Mataumu Alisa at Ali'iolani School. At right, left to right: 4th graders Rylan Delos Reyes, 9; Alexandria Sutton, 9; Zsa-Zsa Miranda, 8; Brandi Torres, 9; Sheldon Lee, 9; Haroldeen Wakida, principal.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

The school's students worked with artist Mataumu Alisa to find a subject that would depict a legend of Palolo Valley. The result was the mural, titled "Mana'ia ka lani o Maui" ("Maui's Magical Fishhook").

The first of the mural's two panels shows the demigod Maui casting his fishhook to catch the island of Kaua'i. The second shows the magic hook, freed from the boulder of Kaua'i, falling into Palolo Valley, creating the crater that exists to this day.

"The mural was a culmination of learning about the area that we live in as well as a culmination of our 75th anniversary," said Ali'iolani principal Haroldeen Wakida.

Students in every grade have learned about the significance of the mural and some worked intensively with the artist, helping to develop the concept and learning about the artistic process.

"There is a real buy-in and a real ownership on the part of the kids," Wakida said.

Wakida explained that the mural also captures the events of this month. On Sept. 11, the artist was putting the finishing touches on his work when he heard of the terrorist attacks. Moved by the tragedy, Alisa painted myriad lines in the mural's ocean to represent the hundreds of floors in the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

• Best-kept secret: About 95 percent of the school — staff and students — participate in the Once 'Round the Block Program. Participants walk or jog around the neighborhood block three days a week, with the goal of promoting wellness, building stamina, socialization and clearing the mind for better concentration in class. Three students have circled the block 217 times or more, for a total of 150 miles. Two staff members have earned 750 miles. Participating students can earn pendants or a school lanyard.

• Everybody at our school knows: "Mr. S" or Scott Sakurada, the physical education teacher. Sakurada also serves as the adviser to the Junior Police Officers. It's a difficult task, as Ali'iolani only goes up to Grade 5, so every year Sakurada must recruit, train and advise a new group of students.

• Our biggest challenge: "Because most of our buildings are 30 years or older, we ... (are) lacking the electrical upgrades in our buildings to accommodate new technology," Wakida said. Ali'iolani is waiting for the second phase of its electrical upgrade project.

• What we need: One of the schools' biggest needs is a "techie" person, Wakida said. Not only are students using computers in their classrooms and labs, schools are increasingly being asked to record data, such as special education and discipline statistics, on new computerized systems, creating the need for someone who can keep computers up and running.

• Projects: Among the school's special projects is Kids Saving Our Future, a partnership with seven other elementary schools, in which teachers guide students to think what they could do to save the future. Ali'iolani students also participate in Aloha Tomodachi, a partnership with Ogishima Elementary School in Koshigaya, Japan. Every year, students exchange letters, art work and projects.

• Special events: Ali'iolani alternately holds a May Day, Cultural Day and Makahiki every three years. It also holds a Technology Fun Run in April or May to raise money for the school's technology program.

• • •

Ali'iolani Elementary at a glance

Where: 1240 Seventh Ave., Kaimuki

Phone: 733-4750

Web address: http://aliiolani.k12.hi.us/home.nsf

Principal: Haroldeen Wakida took over Ali'iolani 13 years ago; 20 years before that, she began her teaching career at Ali'iolani as a student teacher. Wakida also served as president of the Hawai'i State Teachers Association in the 1980s.

School nickname: Home of the Ali'is

School colors: Purple and white

Enrollment: This year the school has 264 students. As with other schools in the East Honolulu area, enrollment has dropped at Ali'iolani as young families move to other areas such as Kapolei. Some of the students do come back on geographic exceptions, traveling from as far as Nanakuli and Wai'anae to spend their day with their grandparents and to attend school at Ali'iolani.

SATs: Ali'iolani was on Hawai'i's honor roll in 1999 and 2000 for exceeding national norms on the Stanford Achievement Test. Listed is the combined percentage of students scoring average and above average in 2000, compared with the national combined average of 77 percent. Third-grade reading, 83 percent; math, 79 percent. Fifth-grade reading, 80 percent; math, 88 percent.

History: Ali'iolani was built in 1925 and celebrated its 75th anniversary last year. The school sits in a well-established community where three generations may have attended the school. During World War II, Ali'iolani served as an elementary school in the mornings and as an intermediate school in the afternoons.

Special features: The school has received a sustaining award for scoring a perfect 18 for three consecutive years on the School Inspection Report, which, among other things, measures the condition of sanitation facilities, grounds and buildings.

Special programs or classes: Ali'iolani has a chorus for its third- through fifth-graders. It also has a preschool for students with multiple handicaps and a multiple handicapped class for autistic students.

Computers: A computer lab contains about 25 computers; the library has 12 and there are two or three computers in each classroom. The Henry C. and Nee Chang C. Wong Foundation has helped the school buy many of its computers. Nee Chang C. Wong was a former teacher at the school.