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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 29, 2010

Movie night brings families together

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer

KAILUA Even the most down-and-out person can realize his or her dream. That's a message Kailua High School wants to share with its students, their family and friends at 5:30 p.m. today at the school's annual Movie & A Message Night on the campus football field.

Initiated in 2007 by a team of educators and youth service providers to promote Kailua High as a safe place to gather, the M&M program fosters such themes as family first and making the right choices, said Sheri Hanoa, student activity coordinator at Kailua High.

It's a way to bring families together share positive views and have fun, Hanoa said, with the added bonus that it's free.

"People are not expected to put out a lot of money to have a good time, like going to the carnival or fair," she said.

The Movie & A Message Night has grown from just a movie to a communitywide event including the school's May Day program at 3:30 p.m., free dinner, free children's games, prizes, community information booths and art displays, Hanoa said.

The event's theme is "Connecting the Community with Aloha." It is planned by the students and sustained by community partnerships, she said.

The goal of the event is to strengthen the bridge between the school and the community, said Deanna Gonda, executive director of Ke Ola Hou, which works with Waimānalo youths and families and is one of the sponsors of the event.

"From the Waimānalo community's perspective it's been very hard for any one of our schools, including Kailua High School, to engage our parents," Gonda said. "So this was an idea to do something positive and fun."

The students also produce public service announcements that will air before the movie, "The Blind Side." The PSAs encourage people to not let your past hurt your future.

Past PSAs covered such topics as bullying, fighting and gossip, Gonda said.

Last year the event attracted 700 people, many of whom were there to see the May Day program, said Janelle Sugimoto-Matsuda, with the Asian/Pacific Islander Youth Violence Prevention Center, one of the sponsors of the event.

Combining the May Day program and M&M last year improved attendance, Sugimoto-Matsuda said.

"We want to draw the families and have them stay for the evening," she said.

Other sponsors are Friends of Kailua High School, Friends of Waimānalo, God's Country Waimanalo and Queen Lili'uokalani Children's Center.