PO‘IPU — Claire Alix hit the ground running, literally.
Alix, a student from Metz, France, is one of six Rotary Club exchange students who will be joining the rest of the students in school starting as early as this morning.
“She just got in Wednesday and has already been involved in a Rotary Club of Po‘ipu Beach service project up at Kalaheo School,” said Bob Ray, a member of Alix’s host family.
Bob said the service project involved improving the soundproofing at the Kalaheo School cafeteria before the school opens its doors to students for the fall semester.
Yesterday was set aside so Alix could get a taste of the local culture as she accompanied Edna and Bob to the Koloa Plantation Days rodeo.
“They don’t have rodeos in Europe,” Edna said. “It’s an American thing.”
But beyond being American, Alix also watched in awe as paniolo competed in some uniquely Hawaiian aspects of rodeo.
Those included the Puu Y U where a roper lassos a steer and pulls the animal taut against a Y frame where it will be secured.
This competition originated from the paniolo where cattle in the field would be roped and, using the Y-fork of a tree, secured until the animal could be taken away.
Another Hawaiian aspect of rodeo included the double mugging event where a roper would lasso the steer and a mugger on foot would work to bring the roped animal to the ground.
Once grounded, the roper joined the mugger to secure the animal.
Alix and her Rotarian family were part of the estimated 1,700 people who took advantage of clear blue skies and a cooling breeze off the ocean to take in the day-long competition that wrapped up the weeklong Koloa Plantation Days celebration.
“We collected from more than 1,000 people,” said Tom Tannery of the YMCA of Kaua‘i, the beneficiary for the rodeo. “But that was only for adults. If you add in the children who got in for free, I would say there’s about 1,700 people here. That’s a lot more than I thought since the collections were slow in the beginning.”
Edna said Claire will be registering this morning at Kaua‘i High School as an 11th-grader and will enjoy her first day of school tomorrow when students report to class.
Bob said Alix will spend the first half of the school year with them as a host. The second half of the school year, Alix will be hosted by Roberta Charles, the president of the Rotary Club of Po‘ipu Beach.
He added that there will be six Rotary exchange students in Kaua‘i schools, but did not have a list of who they were or from what country.
Edna said Alix was selected in France because her godfather is a Rotarian there.