Posted on September 23, 2017
Adding one more to my memory cache of "extraordinary" days on campus, a morning steeped in cultural connections. Some background first: A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend a community meeting with representatives from Mālama Mānoa, the Outdoor Circle, and the City County at Kamanele Park, the park adjacent to our campus just before the guard gate. The group is interested in planning a new interactive, Hawaiian culture-based playground for children ages 2-5. In their research about the park, some archeologists discovered map drawings indicating a heiau in the overgrowth just beyond the restrooms. Jill Johnson, one of our art faculty in the high school who now teaches art history and digital arts (she also taught in our elementary for 12 years), heard about the Kamanele Project and wondered if the supposed heiau extended into Mid-Pacific property.
She contacted archeologist Michael Degas (also a Mid-Pacific parent) who inspected the area beneath the massive banyan rooted in the puʻu and believes there is evidence of an ancient Hawaiian settlement on the Mid-Pacific side. A real art history learning experience was brought to life on Thursday morning when her students, Degas, and another archeologist arrived with shovels and digging tools. Before the dig, Jill arranged for Kahu to bless the dig with representatives from the administration in attendance. This was an historic moment too important for our students to miss!
The preschool and elementary gathered in front of Wilcox building to participate in the blessing ceremony and meet Jill, her students, and the archeologists. Just moments before the ceremony, the Mānoa rain and wind began, prompting the childrenʻs excited squealing while the shower continued long enough for the adults to think it was time to have students retreat for cover.
Then the rains quickly subsided, and the sun broke through the clouds. A blessing indeed.
After a brief explanation about the excavation from Jill and the archeologists and Kumu leading us in prayer, the high school students climbed Puʻu Pueo, and we headed to the dining room for our September assembly.
During the assembly, Mrs. Kekuna explained how she has been preparing the Fifth Graders for their trip October 4 to the Volcano area on Big Island. They will be hiking into ʻohia forests, home of the ʻapapane bird, for which their classroom building is named. We listened first to a recording of this red-feathered honeycreeper followed by the Fifth Graders' hula kahiko performance about the ʻapapane, beautifully and respectfully danced.
These two cultural experiences -- the blessing of the archeological dig and the hula performance -- created an extraordinary morning of deep, heartfelt learning in this special place, Mid-Pacific.
E Kūlia Kākou! Letʻs strive and aspire together!
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey, Ed.D.