Kapa‘a Middle School first in Hawai‘i with Relay Field Day

KAPA‘A — Kapa‘a Middle School made history Friday when more than 600  students poured out of the classrooms and spent the final hour of school walking the Relay Field Day course.

Katie Burleson, community development manager for the American Cancer Society, said this is the first time a middle school has participated in the Relay for Life on the level demonstrated by the students Friday.

“The Relay Field Day is a feeder program which will benefit the Hanapepe Relay for Life scheduled for April 28,” Burleson said.

 “When the students came up with the idea, they were among the first in the nation to come up with the idea of a Relay Field Day. But by the time the program came to execution, a state slipped in, but they are the first middle school (in Hawai‘i) to actually execute a Relay Field Day,” she said.

Burleson said the Friday event, which raised more than $1,500, was generated by students Conner Grubb, Ritikaa Kumar, Max Nice and Katie Peterson — all eighth-grade students at Kapa‘a Middle School.

“This first started as a research project for charity,” Max said. “We participated in the Relays at Hanapepe and Hanalei and Mrs. Terry Maguire, our English teacher, suggested we have a relay at our school.”

Marti Nice, Max’s mother who was helping the teachers and school staff, said she is a survivor, and believes that having the brother of a young boy who was diagnosed with brain cancer last year probably helped the four students push the project to fruition.

“When Max told me what they were doing, I was totally blown away,” Marti, who helps with the survivors coordination at the relay, said. “We’re also part of the Stompers, a team we started for Kaimani Dryer, 9, who is a student at King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School. His brother Nakoa is in the sixth grade at Kapa‘a Middle.”

Kaimani is currently undergoing treatment for brain cancer after being diagnosed last summer and really wanted to be at this event, Marti said.

Grubb said planning for the Relay Field Day started in January when they had to figure out how to get students to buy into the project, raise fund and learn about the course and prizes.

“We got a lot of help from Mr. (Nathan) Aiwohi, the school’s principal,” Max said.

Maguire said she got the idea after attending a meeting with other teachers.

“The project actually started in October when the students in the Honors program selected charities to do research on,” Maguire said. “The American Cancer Society was one of those charities.”

Maguire said the students wanted to make a difference.

“The two boys and two girls were very appropriate when they approached me for help,” Aiwohi said. “This was one of two projects students approached me with, and these students were organized and committed to their project.”

Aiwohi said to watch the 600-plus students from the school walk the course, which Conner described as three laps that equaled a mile, was a demonstration of how service learning in the classroom is put into practice .

He said drawing on funds from the school, he worked with the students to come up with participation incentives such as 300 “I Make A Difference” wristbands for the first 300 students on the course, 100 fabric backpacks for students turning in donations and premium prizes for students turning in $20 or more in donations.

“The students got the staff involved, and when the ACS learned of the project, they were really stoked because they know how much energy it involves. The four students spearheaded the whole thing and have done a good job so far. This is good experience for them as leaders,” Aiwohi said.

“I’m so proud of all of them,” said Ani Grubb, Conner Grubb’s mother, who was also helping.

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