Waipa students experience government

LIHU‘E — Hands-on learning was put into practice for students wearing Waipa shirts Tuesday.

“We got here right after school,” one of the students explained. “School let out at noon, so we were here by 1 p.m., and it’s only now (4:30 p.m.) that they (members of the Kaua‘i Planning Commission) called us in.”

The group of Waipa supporters waited patiently outside the Lihu‘e Civic Center as commissioners went through their agenda.

But, not all waited in the group, as one of the adult chaperones took some of the older students across Rice Street to help Barbara Oki with her new restaurant that is scheduled to open in the former location of Hawaiian Classic Desserts.

“We went to help Mrs. Oki because she gave us all the kitchen equipment from her restaurant for our certified kitchen,” one of the students explained. “But, we don’t have a kitchen yet.”

Ipo Torio, headmaster for Kanuikapono Learning Center, a charter school for Native Hawaiians, said their students go to Waipa at least once a week, where they are engaged in hands-on learning as well as becoming more in tune with the Hawaiian culture.

This includes the learning of the proper protocol, oli (chant), and mele (song), one of the Waipa supporters explained. And, foremost, they learn to malama the ‘aina (take care of the land).

This education was put to use as the group was hastily summoned to enter the Lihu‘e Civic Center meeting room where the commission meeting was taking place.

“No hats, no sunglasses,” the chaperone said, opening the door so the students could file in, where they took their places and offered an oli to the commission members and audience.

“We’re testifying for support for buildings in Waipa,” said Kaulana Kahaunaele, one of the four students scheduled to speak before commission members.

“We need new buildings because all the buildings are getting old, and we have no classrooms.”

Part of the new buildings will house a certified kitchen where Oki’s contributed equipment will be put to use for the students.

For the Tuesday-afternoon outing, Torio said that only the older students of the 30-student school came to the commission meeting.

Kanuikapono currently offers instruction in grades four through eight in Anahola.

Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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