2018 - 2019 Pono Campaign Winners

The 12th Annual E Ola Pono Campaign kick started August 1, 2018 and culminated April 12th, 2019.  The annual statewide initiative encourages youth groups to promote peace, pono and respect at their schools and communities through student–led campaigns.

 Nine schools in three divisions are receiving recognition and monetary awards for their successful student-led campaigns.  First place winners are awarded $1000 and second place receive $500 for their campaign efforts.

Elementary Division:


1st Place (tie): Kaneohe Elementary, Oahu

The experimental class of 22 at Kāne‘ohe Elementary School love learning when it is hands-on and relevant to their everyday world.  They are learning from different cultural/ community educational partners and in the rich learning environments of our ‘āina.  Bella Finau-Faumuina and Sarah Passoff, the team teachers for this class, reflect that this way of learning “was good for students and they had seen their own personal growth explode in this student engineered classroom.  By incorporating oli, restorative practices, placed-based learning and STEM/differentiation the student experience in the classroom would be transformative.”  Every student took ownership of their learning and stepped up as leaders to produce a video to documenting their experience that can be used to share the success of a student driven, hands-on learning environment. 

 Looking back to the beginning of the year, Sarah Passoff GR 6 Academy class teacher comments, “This campaign has impacted at least 200 students and 20 adults considering the practices and strategies we have used to make learning more engaging and culturally relevant. Teachers have seen that it works and are being a little more open to trying new ideas or strategies.”

1st Place (tie):  Mānoa Elementary, Oahu

Peace Project was student designed to empower, nurture and inspire all students of their community to spread peace and kindness in all that they do.Chelsey Villamin, the 1st grade teacher at Mānoa Elementary chose the Peace Project because her students were having a difficult time working together.  “Our campaign wanted to influence our classroom community along with inspiring the whole school to adapt small routines and exercises to help students find a sense of peace and be able to spread the feeling to others.  The culture of our classroom as a whole is so much more peaceful, collaborative and positive.”

 Villamin’s students were so excited about the Peace Project they made Peace kits to give out to other classes to get them started in exploring “acts of peace”. From making Peace kits for other classes, initiating a 30-day peace challenge to collaborating with 4th graders to design a peace mural for the school, the campaign impacted the whole school community as well as their families. Future plans could include a Peace Fair Fundraiser, a Peace Parade and starting a peace garden.


2nd Place(tie):  Kohala Elementary, Hawaii island

The Kohala Unupa‘a, under the guidance of Advisor Johnelle Amoo Ching, focused their campaign on the themes “Who I am, Where I am from, Where am I going and Where can I serve.”  The MAUKA TO MAKAI 5-day long camp was the venue to develop “alaka‘i” youth leaders through activities that promote cultural and environmental stewardship. “Camping in the outdoors for a week with other students from different grades taught them to take care of each other.  They also had to learn to get along with all kinds of people with different personalities. We had to encourage students that being outdoors and enjoying nature can be so satisfying mentally, physically and emotionally. It was an all-around learning experience,” advisor Amoo reflects.

 With the success of the MAUKA TO MAKAI camp, Kohala Elementary plans on having a month-long day camp during the summer and end it with another MAUKA TO MAKAI 5-day camping experience.


2nd Place(tie):  Kaʻewai Elementary, Oahu

The Hawaiian Studies teacher kumu Faith “Honey” Aiu, continued their Stream Team project to “show how hard working and successful the Stream Team has been in restoring the Ka‘ewai Stream.”   

 “The growth of the returning students has been impeccable in terms of leadership, ‘ike and the ‘i‘ini (desire) to want to do more for the stream, ‘āina, and their community. Our school community and neighborhood are aware and now conscious of the impacts that humans and invasive species have on the ‘āina and what can be done to prevent and heal the ‘āina,”  kumu Honey states.  

 The entire student body, the faculty, parents and neighbors from the community were involved. “Word spread to others outside our ahupua'a and they want to be a part of the program such as Kamehameha Schools class of 1969, Waialae Elementary School A+ program and a few UH Mānoa 'Ike Hawai'i students” reflects kumu Honey.


3rd Place:  Benjamin parker Elementary, Oahu

At Ben Parker Elementary the students wanted to make a garden that was a safe place where students could go and share their feelings and sort out their problems and issues. The students from Ben Parker reflected that “the changes we have seen is that more students show kindness. We have a better relationship with our classmates and teachers because when we go into the garden that’s where all our problems stay.” Ben Parker teachers have noticed that, “in the classroom, the students are more  engaged and motivated to learn. They worked on communication and building rapport with their peers and teachers. The amount of referrals have been reduce to less than 3 a month compared to 6-8 a week. They (students) have learned to deal with their problems and frustrations without taking it out on other people.”


Middle/Intermediate Division:


1st Place:  Washington Middle School, Oahu

The Washington Middle school (WMS) students in Team Pono state that, “We chose to prevent bullying because our school has some issues with bullying and we wanted to make that stop. Schools should be a safe place of learning and interacting with people.  No school should be filled with the negativity of bringing people down  and making them feel worthless.  We decided to focus on spreading more kindness. If you receive kindness, you’re more likely to spread it.”

Advisor Joyce Brubaker reflects on the Team Pono campaign, “The team members got together early in the school year and decided to focus their efforts on bullying. They mapped out a year-long campaign, with varied, do-able activities to engage the WMS population from September through May.”  

 Team Pono took on the challenge to change negative hearts and minds about the Micronesians students in their school.  They saw their Micronesian classmates gift of singing and decided to birth the Team Pono Singers.  These singers went to nursing homes and a hospital to share their compassion and good cheer with their music.

The Campaign is finishing up a 17-week challenge to spread kindness, appreciation for one another and to stand up for what is right.


2nd Place:  Chiefess KamakaheleiMiddle, Kauai

As CKMS (Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School) Team Unify, students set   out to promote communities of acceptance, respect, tolerance and inclusion through activities within the classroom, school, community and their island Kauai.

“We chose the topic ‘acceptance and Inclusion’ for our campaign because we as a school and community want our place to be where people can be who they want to    be without being judged harshly or bullied based on appearances or how we act. If     we spread acceptance and inclusion, the world will be better and happier,” students at CKMS reflect. 

Amanda Fretto, advisor for CKMS Team Unify states, “By participating in the EOP Campaign and being a part of CKMS Team Unify, our students have grown as positive leaders and agents of change.  They are part of the “Unified Generation” that   is helping to promote acceptance and inclusion of everyone.  They have increased their self-confidence and self-esteem.  They have recognized that they are making positive changes in our community and are eager to continue to do so.”


High School Division:

1st Place: James Campbell High, Oahu - Voices of Campbell Ohana Pono Campaign

James Campbell High was one of 13 participating schools in the HIDOE SEL/HĀ Influencing School Culture project.  The SEL/HĀ project held workshops for the teachers, administration and selected students to learn ways to create change in their schools through amplifying student voice. The students reflect, “We want our teachers to understand how important it is to work with us to encourage authentic student voice.  We want students to experience a more beautiful campus and to learn about the talent and diversity we have in our school by having an end-of-year celebration for an entire week with each day having a different theme.”

Anthony McCurdy, a teacher and co-advisor for the DOE SEL/HĀproject writes in the campaign reflection, “This campaign impacted the target audience in a few different ways.  We've seen a surge in student involvement in our mural project and in planning for our end-of-year celebration in May that will involve most of, if not all, our student clubs and extracurricular organizations.  Both activities have seen the increase in the participation of students with disabilities and the ESL population.”


2nd Place:  Farrington High, Oahu - Friends Program

Farrington High developed a program to increase interaction between students with special needs and general education peers.  The Friends Program is focused on breaking down barriers and eliminating labels that society has placed on individuals.

Educational Assistant and campaign advisor Evelyn Utai, shares the philosophy of their Friends program, “We believed that in order for Pono to live in our school we need to educate people about not using labels.The school has grown so much with our Friends Program.  We have so many students asking questions and wanting to be part of an amazing program.  This year our school hosted many of the district meetings and in every meeting they have asked to see the Friends Program.  They wanted to see how it works and what they can do to have it in their schools.

The future plans for Farrington High are to help bring the Friends Program to other schools on O‘ahu by sharing how to start a program like this and experience the amazing benefits of living pono through acceptance and inclusion.