Elementary School Principal's Blog

But then came the extraordinary in the ordinary --

Posted on September 12, 2008

by Dr. Edna Hussey on September 12, 2008

Now and then, we experience events that are forever engraved in our memories.  The birth of a child.  A child's first steps.  A particular day on a family trip. The final living moments of a loved one. The return of a family member from military duty overseas.  Perhaps an ordinary moment with extraordinary effect.

Such was the event this past Wednesday morning when the entire school, from preschool through high school, gathered in the gym to honor their Cambodian friends from the Future Light Orphanage of Worldmate.  These 30 teens are all orphans who live at the orphanage and attend school in Cambodia, along with 350 other children, ages 5 to 22.  In an impressive display of cultural exchange, the MPI hula halau, directed by kumu hula Lanakila Casupang, performed a colorful hula about the rainbows over Manoa. The Cambodian students sat on the floor in front of our preschoolers and elementary children, enjoying the hula. Then the Cambodian students performed three dances, accompanied by drum and wind instrumentalists.  We were amazed by the dancers' tilted posture, precision steps, and fingers delicately curved back to perform expressive hand movements.  Some of the preschoolers seated up close tried to mimic the dancers' hand motions as they watched the performance.  At the end of the performance, the entire audience gave our Cambodian friends a rousing standing ovation. But then came the extraordinary in the ordinary --

The MPI students, all 1500 plus, as well as the nearly 100 faculty members, stood up to sing the Mid-Pacific alma mater. In one strong, vibrant voice -- an historic first time that the entire school has been assembled together in one place in four years since the preschool and elementary have been on the Manoa campus -- everyone sang . . . Out among the world's great peoples may thy children go, Bearing forth thy kindly spirit, Brotherhood to show. I looked across the gym, embracing this extraordinary moment, grateful to be part of this unique community and special place.  

Read the heartwarming article in today's Honolulu Advertiser, Section E, front page, featuring President Rice and his foster son, Houch Chhoeung, who is one of the Cambodian dancers. President Rice was united with his foster son for the first time.

Our afterschool program is settling into routines.  It's a wonder to see so many children with busy lives after 2:30pm!   Tennis. Ballet. Japanese. Choir. Chinese. Volleyball. Piano. Guitar or ukulele. Contemporary Dance. We are happy to offer these enrichment classes.  If you have any questions or concerns related to these classes, contact the instructor directly.  If, however, your questions are not addressed, please call the Principal at 441-3800.  

As explained at yesterday's `Ohana meeting, the faculty has been working since this past summer on revising the kindergarten through fifth grade performance continua for math, writing, and reading.  The intent is to give parents clearer, more accurate information about their child's learning. The revision process began with a small group of teachers who researched reading and writing criteria and various assessment rubrics.  Student writing will be assessed along a writing continuum with five or six performance levels (e.g., beginning, exploring, expanding extending, etc.), and reading along five similarly labeled levels of performance. Each level is defined by descriptors -- statements about the quality of the product or performance.  Teachers will look at six aspects or traits of student writing, such as ideas (the writer's main point), organization (the overall design or structure of the writing), sentence fluency (the flow and rhythm of language), and conventions (spelling, grammar, punctuation).  For reading, we will evaluate a student's reading strategies, listening and reading comprehension.  We are refining the math continua so that it is more reader-friendly.  More information will be available as the continua are completed.

The election season is upon us!  The classroom teachers are discussing the election process to some degree that is developmentally appropriate for each grade. Students in grades three, four, and five are likely delving into the democratic process and campaign issues more than the other grade levels.  We encourage you to talk informally about this aspect of citizenship -- voting -- because it is one of the essential rights and responsibilities of maintaining a democracy.  Yes, the sign wavers are upon us!

We hope you're planning to attend the preschool/elementary barbecue on September 20, next Sunday, 2:00-5:00pm.  The Fifth Grade parents and students are responsible for the barbecue.  Please bring the entire family, and don't forget to return the r.s.v.p. form so that we can plan the food accordingly.  

In memory of all who have been deeply affected by the tragedy of September 11 -- peace and hope for a better future for all children.

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey