Fundraiser benefits Aloha ‘Ike

PO‘IPU —The level of student enthusiasm demonstrated the eagerness of young minds willing to learn, Friday, at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa.

Students representing the different levels of robotics, from elementary school through high school, were anxious to demonstrate the capabilities of their handiwork during the 7th annual Kaua‘i Economic Development Board fundraiser.

Joining several hundred community members at the event were U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, honorary chair of the Aloha ‘Ike program. They took time to chat with the student engineers to learn more about the different robotics being showcased.

The Aloha ‘Ike — which means “to love learning” — program is a partnership between Kaua‘i schools and the community for the purpose of enhancing the educational opportunities for all of Kaua‘i’s keiki in grades kindergarten through 12.

One of the intentions of the program is to cultivate working relationships between educators and community partners, such as Conrad Murashige, president of Shioi Construction.

“It’s not just about learning and showing,” Murashige said. “(The students) have to sell themselves as well — just like the real world.”

Marleen Duarte, KEDB executive assistant, said the event was more than fundraising, it was “a celebration of student achievement.”

Since the inception of the Aloha ‘Ike program in 2005, more than 100 projects at 21 public, private and charter schools have connected 50 community partners to school projects and impacted more than 4,000 Kaua‘i students, Duarte said.

William Arakaki, Kaua‘i Area Complex superintendent, pointed out how team members from four high schools around Kaua‘i gathered at Island School to form the FIRST Robotics Team.

The robotics program is just one of many which benefit from the Aloha ‘Ike grant administered by KEDB. Another program utilizing these funds is the media class at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, which was working under the guidance of teacher Kevin Matsunaga in recording the event.

“It’s not about me,” said Stu Burley, a longtime robotics instructor and mentor at Waimea High School. “It’s all about the children.”

The Aloha ‘Ike fundraiser is intended to ensure continued support for Kaua‘i’s school students and teachers in pursuit of their pursuit to love learning.

Visit www.kedb.com for more information.

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

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