Governor Recognizes E Ola Pono Campaign Winners: February is Declared “E Ola Pono Campaign Month”

Governor Neil Abercrombie officially recognized four Hawai‘i public schools selected as winners for their first semester entries in this year’s annual E Ola Pono Campaign. The Governor also declared February as “E Ola Pono Campaign Month” in support of this program that encourages student-generated activities and projects that promote peace and pono at schools.

Winning 1st place $1000.00 awards are McKinley High School and Kainalu Elementary School, both located on O‘ahu. Waiākea Elementary School in Hilo on Hawai‘i Island placed 2nd in the elementary division, receiving $500.00. These monetary awards are provided to support ongoing efforts of schools to “grow pono” and become even safer, more nurturing places to learn.

McKinley High School students shared about their new Pono Project, a student group that meets twice a month. The purpose of this project is to motivate and inspire students to connect with Hawaiian culture, build deeper reasons to learn, develop more respect for self and others, and work with peers to do community service, overcome challenges, and achieve common goals. Activities Coordinator April Nakamura and Counselors Mr. Oshiro and Mr. Cummings advised and guided the start up of McKinley’s Pono Project, and they continue to support the student leaders who are planning the group activities. Field trips and motivating speakers have provided engaging experiences that have helped participants become better connected to their peers and community. Student reflections expressed deep felt appreciation for the project, each other, and the special places they have volunteered at.

Kainalu Elementary School’s Campaign entry was their “Room C Special Friends Program”, run by teacher Shann Peterson. Participating upper elementary students use their recess time to get to know and play with medically fragile students and those with multiple disabilities.

Volunteers from grades 4-6 work together with the common purpose of helping these students who face unique challenges in life. According to Peterson, “All students are considered equal members of Special Friends!” The teacher has observed that learning occurs for all participants. “I count myself lucky to have the privilege to witness the development of relationships that naturally occur and reveal themselves, over time,” she added. Ms. Peterson first learned about the Special Friends Program in 1981 when she was a student teacher at Kainalu Elementary.

At Waiākea Elementary School, Activities Coordinator Hallie Adolf asked the student council what things made them happy at school and what things made them unhappy. The group then talked about what worked at their school that reinforced positive behavior. Video clips about “pono” were viewed to see what other students were doing.

The Waiākea Student Council came up with the idea to film five skits that show things they don’t like at school and what to do about them. Student reflections shared that these council members are learning about acting, felt all the videos they watched had good messages, and are considering involving more students by doing a school play.

Kualapu‘u Elementary Public Conversion Charter School on the Island of Moloka‘i’s campaign entry by Diane Abraham’s 4th grade class was recognized with an Honorable Mention for the 1st Semester E Ola Pono Campaign 2011-2012 round. Their Moloka‘i Keiki Malama Ka ‘Aina beach clean up of Dixie Maru Beach was their campaign to “walk the talk” of being pono with the ‘aina and the beaches. They researched the biodegradability of all the rubbish and published articles about their campaign in the Moloka‘i dispatch.

Diane Abraham reflects, “Our purpose was foremost to teach our students to create a litter-free and clean, healthy environment on our island of Molokai, even and especially if we ourselves did not create the litter. If we are to be pono, we have to live pono with the aina, the land and our beaches. Another purpose is to inform the community via the local media—newspaper and public television—about our youths’ effort in ‘walking the walk, not just talking the talk.’”

The 4th grade students reflected, “Our class learned a lot from our beach and community clean-ups. We were amazed, and disgusted, at how much people just tossed around to litter our aina. That is so NOT pono! After our beach clean-up, we took the rubblish and made “gartbage”, that is, we made a sculpture out of the garbage. We also recycled everything we could. After both of our clean-ups on the beach and in the community, we wrote articles to our newspaper about what we did, to hope that others on our island would be pono, and keep our home and our ‘aina clean, and not trash it.”

In his proclamation that identifies February as “E Ola Pono Campaign Month”, Governor Abercrombie asks the people of the Aloha State to join in the efforts of the E Ola Pono Campaign by understanding the importance of being pono and working toward improving the social/emotional environment at schools. The Proclamation signing occurred on Monday, February 6, 2012, with students, staff, and parents of participants in attendance.

Learn more about the E Ola Pono Campaign and how schools can join this statewide effort to improve the social/emotional environment of their school.

The deadline for second semester Campaign entries is May 11, 2012.