KALAHEO — How do you thank the many community organizations and individuals who responded to Kalaheo School following a fire that destroyed their administrative offices, as well as classrooms, in one of the historic buildings?
That was the question facing leaders of the elementary school as Valentine’s Day approached. The school was devastated by a fire in May that destroyed Building A. The community outpouring after the fire amazed many at the school.
Bruce Herbig, one of the staff members at Kalaheo School, said that when they reviewed the lists of people and organizations that came to the aid of the school following that fire, they were amazed at how many people stepped forward from different parts of the island.
Additionally, Herbig said veterans of the war in Iraq, some of whom have children attending Kalaheo School, are coming home, so they were faced with an added dilemma of how to express their love and appreciation to everyone.
With the help of a local utility that arranged for a lift truck and operators to visit the school, Herbig said they decided the entire student body, and all of the school’s staff, would form a giant heart symbolizing love and appreciation to the people of Kaua’i and the Armed Forces.
On Friday, the entire school turned out dressed in red, pink or black. Working within the confines of a pre-drawn heart that was in an area fronting the new buildings that replaced the burned buildings, the giant heart took shape.
Darren Curammeng, the school’s computer and audio-visual head, went up in the utility company’s giant lift to record the action.
At its apex, Curammeng kept the video rolling as the school’s musical director, Layne Griffin, led the gathering in singing the school’s alma mater. The entire event ended with shakas flashing.
The gesture of the school gathering, the singing of the alma mater, and the shaka finale was heart-felt by all and showed the gratefulness that resides in the hearts of the school. School officials say they wanted to show the people of Kaua’i how much Kalaheo School appreciates the island community.
Herbig, who had gone up on the lift earlier to make sure the students’ positioning was correct, said excitedly, “It’s better than Disneyland.”
- Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) and email@example.com