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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 3, 2003

Campus elevates kids' patriotic spirit

By James Gonser
Advertiser Staff Writer

Navy Hale Keiki School is a patriotic school and they like to show it, according to director Jane McClair.

Kindergarteners Megan Nelson and Andrew Vance study their geography at Navy Hale Keiki School. About 85 percent of the private school's students are military dependents.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

All 200 students gather in the courtyard every morning to say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the national anthem and other patriotic songs before heading to class.

"Every morning we have that tradition," McClair said. "We are a real traditional kind of school, which is what a lot of people want."

About 85 percent of the students at the small private school, which offers classes from preschool to second grade, are from military families. About a quarter of the students have a parent who is deployed somewhere else in the world.

On campus are many signs of the school's military connection — a plaque showing its adoption by sailors from the USS Lake Erie and a banner out front that reads, "Don't give up the ship."

But there is nothing to remind students of the war in Iraq and the danger that some of their parents face.

"The children are very cognizant of the fact that their dads or moms are away," McClair said. "We don't play it up. Several of the teachers at the school have spouses in the military that are away. They are in the same boat. They have the same feelings."

McClair said sometimes children will talk about their fear with the class.

"During morning calendar time, that is where they talk about daddy being gone, when they talk about things going on. That is encouraged and listened to. We are here to give support."

Navy Hale is located just outside Pearl Harbor. Many parents bring their children to the school on the recommendation of others.

Lace Murphy is a Navy spouse who moved here from the Mainland a year ago and enrolled her 6-year-old son at the school on the advice of neighbors.

"We love it," Murphy said. "It's small and we are seeing results."

The school is governed by a Board of Governors comprising elected members who are parents of Navy Hale students and three community advisers. Navy Hale is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the Hawai'i Association of Independent Schools and is licensed by the Hawaii Council of Private Schools.

• What are you most proud of? The parents that volunteer to help around the school and help in the education of their children, McClair said. "They are what really makes the school."

• Best-kept secret: That the Navy Hale Keiki School is not just for military dependents; anyone can attend.

• Everybody at our school knows: Our custodian and groundskeeper, Sharon Hamel. "She keeps all these flowers beautiful. She has a big job."

• Our biggest challenge: The ability to add more grade levels. McClair said parents are always asking what they should do after second grade. "We give them the options of other schools, and they decide," she said.

• What we need: A permanent library.

• Projects: A community work day is set for Saturday, with volunteers trimming plants and cleaning the campus.

• Special events: The annual school auction will be held May 10 at Rainbow Marina near the USS Arizona Memorial. Businesses and parents donated items such as coupons for hotel rooms, meals or movie tickets, which provide money for the school.

• • •

At a glance

• Where: 153 Bougainville Drive

• Phone: 423-1727

• Web address: www.nhks.org

• Director: Jane McClair, who taught at the school for five years and became director last year.

• School nickname: Menehunes

• School colors: Red and white

• Enrollment: About 200 students, with a capacity of 223.

• Testing: Tests administered last year show students in the second grade scored above grade level in reading, math and spelling, according to McClair.

• History: Navy Hale Keiki School was organized and established in 1946 by a group of Navy wives as a nonprofit organization. Over the years it has served the community as a nursery school, preschool, and since 1967, an early childhood program for children 3 years old through second grade.

• Special features: A vegetable garden and fish pond on campus.

• Special programs or classes: The creative arts program includes movement, music and visual arts.

• Computers: Computers in some classrooms and a small computer lab.