Kanuikapono Public Charter School students overcome obstacles to travel to Grand Canyon

ANAHOLA — Going to the Grand Canyon has long been a dream for Ethan Ramos. He and three of his friends from Kanuikapono Public Charter School are headed there.

But it was just two months ago that Ethan’s dream trip was in jeopardy.

KCPS was one of a handful of schools selected from across the country to bring students on an expedition to visit the Grand Canyon.

Bruce Fehring, who lives in Kilauea, and his two sons, who attend the school, helped organize the trip with Benjie Howard, a guide for the Grand Canyon Expedition Company in Colorado.

Howard founded the New Wilderness Project, and was originally able to invite three kids from KCPS on the trip. Ethan, 15, was not among them.

“I spoke to about 12 or 13 kids and I chose three from them. But there was another kid who was really distraught, so he came to me afterwards and appealed to me to go,” Fehring said.

Ethan, who loves hiking and exploring nature, wasn’t at school the day Fehring came by, and his friends had to fill him in on what he was about to miss.

“When I heard that my friends wanted to go and were planning on it, it really made me want to go because I thought it would be a cool experience to get out in the environment,” Ethan said.

For days, Ethan wasn’t sure if he was going to be allowed to go on the trip, until something unexpected happened — one person set to go got sick.

“It allowed me to go,” he said. “So in reality, I was less than 50-50 on going. It’s a really amazing blessing for me.”

Ethan is going with three friends, Laila Waldman, Russell Fu and Takoda Carson. A GoFundMe page has been created for the trip and had raised $1,105 as of Friday afternoon, $3,695 short of the group’s projected $4,800 goal.

Howard helped Fehring organize an eight-day, seven-night trip for late July, which will cost about $960 per student including airfare. Fehring will be the chaperone.

“Going on this trip, for them, is indicative of the fact that they want to seek things that are outside of their comfort zone,” he said.

“The kids are very enthusiastic about not just going on the trip, but also sharing the cultural aspect of their school and community with other kids who are probably totally unfamiliar with their way of life,” he added.

Ethan called this trip a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Not a lot of people get to do it, and I think we’re really blessed,” he said “I’m thankful for everything that Bruce has done.”

Ethan and his friends aren’t just looking to have fun as they sight-see and go rafting in the Colorado River.

“When I go over there, it’s going to be a new perspective of seeing things and how the world is and how I can make that last for the next generation,” Ethan said. “It’s not going to be around forever, so whatever I can learn to help the environment, I want to do.”

The anticipation is mounting for Ethan.

“We can learn about the Grand Canyon and all of these things and come back to our school and offer everyone a better view,” he said. “I love the environment and being able to learn new things about Hawaiian culture here, and I kind of want to bring that Hawaiian and aloha spirit wherever I go.”

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