Gems of Learning, Wonder, and Surprise - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

Gems of Learning, Wonder, and Surprise

Posted on March 19, 2011

by Dr. Edna Hussey on March 19, 2011

Where do I begin? The last week prior to Spring break held so many gems of rich learning, wonder, and surprise that the order in which I unfold these events only means that I need to begin somewhere, since all experiences were equally valuable. . . .

So I begin with the image of the entire school gathered by the preschool trike path and the Kindergartners standing proudly beneath their mosaic mural project, Nai`alele (for an in-depth understanding of the genesis of the project, please go to Jordan Guillory's blog). The Hawaiian name refers to a leaping dolphin and its image of a wave in motion. This unique gift from the Class of 2023 took several weeks of intensive planning, drafting, revising, and discussing among the kindergartners with studio teacher Jordan Guillory as their facilitator and guide. If you look at the documentation on Jordan's blog, you are immediately taken by their ability to work with deliberation and focus on the mural, particularly the selection of each tile piece, marble, bead, or natural material by color, shape, and intended effect. Their work demonstrates a strong understanding of the elements of artistic composition. Simply phenomenal. I will always remember the moment of all of us together, hand-in-hand, proudly singing the MPI alma mater, and the Kindergartners' faces lit with joy.

The next image is of nearly 20 children, from grades 1 through 5, taking their turns to perform in a talent show. After lunch on a breezy, sunny Thursday afternoon, we gathered on the courtyard lawn to enjoy the performances of magicians, dancers, and singers. It was such a surprise to see students who aren't often in the limelight now take center stage. Even more delightful was seeing such confident children standing in front of an audience of over 200 students, faculty, staff, and parents move us to wild applause. I mean, they got us rockin', boppin', and wavin' our hands up in the air to the rhythmic beat of the music.

And if that wasn't enough talent, more came to the fore at the Ho`olaule`a talent show featuring five groups of students. Second grader Darian sang a vocal solo with dramatic flair. Third grader Shawn danced impressively to Thriller, giving Michael Jackson some mean competition. Fifth graders Madison and Remi performed a popular piano duet. Ayden danced a lively high-flying Irish jig, and Dane wiped us out with his ukulele flair. MP's got talent!

Curriculum sharing at the March assembly featured the Kindergartners from Kelley Hitomi's class. Their message was absolutely clear in five excellent presentations, which ranged from song and art work to slide presentation and puppet show -- all original works by the children. The unifying message: Take care of our environment! Reduce, reuse, and recycle waste. We got the message; now we need to take action.

A few more rich images of this incredible week:. I was honored to have been part of the Fifth Grade's special role in the US Naturalization Ceremony this past Wednesday at Mission Hale Auditorium by City Hall. With help from their teacher Cindy Hoddick, the students had been exploring a year-long inquiry on human migration to continents then immigration to North America and Hawaii. The students were invited to play a significant part during the ceremony celebrating 106 new US citizens from 30 countries. They sang our national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner, and America the Beautiful. Judge Leslie Kobayashi (fifth grade parent) presided over the ceremony when new citizens take an oath to uphold all the rights and responsibilities of their American citizenship. Her son Cody introduced other speakers, including Mayor Carlisle and Bernard Yip, parent of Andrew. Mr. Yip spoke about his experience twenty years ago when he became a US citizen, having arrived from Hong Kong. But what an honor it was for two fifth graders, Kian J. and DJ Nakashima, to read their speeches, which had won first and second place respectively in a state competition sponsored by the Elks organization. Their speeches -- What It Means to be an American -- echoed the heartfelt emotions, I'm sure, of every new US citizen that morning. It was the first time I had ever attended a naturalization ceremony. It stirred many moments for me, grateful and proud to be an American citizen.

And so, I leave you with one more image as Spring break begins for our MPI students, faculty, and staff. Earlier this week in the afternoon autoline, a baseball coach from another school walked past me, then returned to tell me: You know, I come up here a lot. And every time I'm here, I see such happy kids all the time. I've never seen such happy kids! I nodded and smiled.

As I close the album of images I've recounted, I think you can understand why our students -- your children -- are indeed a happy bunch of kids. See you in the morning autoline on April 4.

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey