Posted on March 2, 2014
This past Friday we celebrated in grand style the "grand" in Grand Parents. How grand could this be? Really grand! Nearly 500 grandparents, great-grandparents, and family members waited excitedly in the dining room meeting other grand persons or hovered outside classroom doors until 8:30am. Once in the classrooms, our special guests listened to presentations, participated in activities, or sat with their grandchild side-by-side in conversation. The photos in todayʻs blog (courtesy of MPI Director of Communications Scot Allen) capture the essence of the truly grand in the simple interactions between grandchild and grandparent. You can see the wonder in their expressions, the tilt of head, the gentle smile, the close proximity between them. Each classroom of students made their own lei to give to guests -- and quite a variety, from yarn lei to ribbon lei with personal messages to lei of photos specially chosen for each grandparent and grandchild. The celebration continued in Bakken auditorium where we shared a window of curriculum from character education, physical education, visual arts, and music, which all elementary students experience each week.
Atelierista Jordan Guillory prepared a video documenting the kindergartnersʻ year-long in-depth study of community in the context of Mid-Pacific. Their research was conducted through observations in different offices, classrooms, and areas across the campus and interviews with persons the students had questions concerning their roles and responsibilities. In essence, their research developed into a discovery of the identity of Mid-Pacific Institute. Impressive research.
Students in multiage first and second grades and fifth grade read peace poems they wrote in character education classes taught by Lori Abe and Shirley Rivera. Photos accompanying the poems projected on the screen were also taken by students. I was impressed with the studentsʻ understanding of visual imagery and depth of emotional insight captured in poetic voice and the visual arrangement of each poetic line. I could hear the audience response to the poetry.
Students in multiage third and fourth grades narrated a thought-provoking presentation of an inquiry-based art project taught by their art teacher Jill Johnson. The Signatures Project analyzed expression and individuality in a signature, with each student creatively exploring his or her name in different stylistic representations using color and other media. Four students named Isabella introduced themselves and demonstrated via slides how their signatures reveal very different personalities. The project went further by looking at how signatures can be forged and how some highly-valued artistic masterpieces have been detected as frauds because of forged signatures by imitators. Students shared information from a Skyped interview with a Sotheby expert whose job is to detect forgery.
Just watching the fifth graders run through several rope-jumping routines made me want to jump in (A long time ago, I was pretty good at Double-Dutch, two long jump ropes being turn in opposite ways!) A kindergartner standing next to me watching the fifth grade presentation turned around, tugged at my pants, and said wide-eyed, "They are really super fast!" P.E. teacher Bruce Black had been teaching all students about exercise, a nutritious diet, and limited screen-viewing as necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In conjunction with the American Heart Associationʻs annual "Jump Rope for Heart," the students focused on rope jumping. It was an incredible display of athleticism in our young students.
We offer a wide range of afterschool classes, among them Musical Theatre and Strings.
Our very own music teacher Sarahlea Kekuna and middle school faculty Kimee Balmilero brought up their theater students who delighted the audience by singing two Disney favorites "When You Wish Upon a Star" and "Itʻs a Small World." String teacher Rachel Saul led her students in playing a "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" harmonized medley with violinists and cellists. Bravo!
Robynne Migita, head teacher in the preschool, represented the preschool faculty as she narrated the amazing research of our youngest learners as they try to look for the "fantastical" in their environment. Beginning with an exploration of light and shadow play and images that can be created with light, the children moved into an experience of fantasy through the elements of story. Parents participated in their childrenʻs explorations by transforming a nearby forest into a fantastical forest. With the help of a parent illustrator, he is taking the development of their class-generated narrative about main character Owl and giving it life through his sketches. The preschool slideshow ended with this thoughtful quote from Maurice Sendak: "Children do live in fantasy and reality; they move back and forth very easily in a way we no longer remember how to do."
During the finale, all students stood, surrounding the audience with their voices as they sang "Children Like Me" -- the lyrics asking their grandparents, parents, adults in their lives to guide and support them and be at their side.
Congratulations to all the grandparents we acknowledged as the oldest grandmother and grandfather (ages 88-89), the youngest great-grandmother and great-grandfather (age 88), and the grandparents who traveled the farthest just to attend Grandparentsʻ Day at Mid-Pacific Institute (Serbia, New Zealand, and Japan!).
It was most certainly a grand day!
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey