Hula mound group effort

‘ELE‘ELE — It was the perfect melding of nature and man.

The limbs of two monkeypod trees spread out wide to offer shade from the already broiling morning sun at the campus of ‘Ele‘ele School yesterday morning.

The shade offered by the limbs combined with the shadow cast from the two-story classroom building as students from the various classes trooped into the shade with their individual chairs, the heat dissipated by the light breeze moving through the area.

“They’re getting ready for May Day,” said Dr. Leila Nitta, the school’s principal. “When we celebrate May Day next Friday (May 25), it’ll also be the dedication of the hula mound because it will be the first time something will be performed on it.”

Nitta said the mound was the result of a massive community effort Jan. 6 when hundreds of volunteers turned out at the school.

“They came with Caterpillars, equipment and lots of bodies,” Nitta said.

Working under the supervision and direction of school maintenance head Dave McCallum, part of the hill was excavated and formed into the performing platform.

“Kupuna Janet Kahalekomo wanted a mound like this for more than 10 years,” Nitta said. “When I found out about it, I went out and the community rallied around the idea. This was truly a community effort.”

McCallum and his staff also joined in on the final preparations for the May Day program set for May 25 at 8:30 a.m.

He used fluorescent paint to mark off the areas filled in by the students, leaving areas for people to pass through, while setting up areas where parents could also have clear views of the performances.

“This will be quite a historic occasion,” Nitta said. “In addition to the mound enjoying its first performances, this will be a transition as ‘Ele‘ele School becomes an elementary school. We’ll be having courts for the fifth- and sixth-graders. We don’t want to forget our sixth-graders, so we’ll have two courts.”

Starting with the fall semester, Nitta said ‘Ele‘ele School will have grades from kindergarten to fifth. The sixth-grade students will be moving to the Waimea Canyon School which will become a middle school for the Westside complex.

Kahalekomo took her turn, taking advantage of the student gathering to explain the hula mound, and how future school performances will be held at the mound (weather permitting) instead of inside the old cafeteria that was hot and cramped.

McCallum said the mound has grown in nicely since the major work in January, but said it’ll keep growing in and should be really nice once everything sets in.

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