PUHI — Leonardo Salom watched his two sons, Leondrix and Leondrell, quietly pass the time at the Kauai Community College One Stop Center Monday morning.
“Their mother is a student here,” Leonardo said. “We’re just waiting for her to finish.”
Chloey Gray walked past with her mother, Uluwehi.
“I’m a junior at the Hawaii Technical Academy, Kauai,” Chloey said. “I just registered for a math class under the Running Start program to get a head start on college. There are about 60 of us HTA high school students on Kauai, and a lot of them are in Running Start.”
Kauai Community College opened its doors to the spring semester Monday, with an opening day census of 1,219 students, an increase of 9.5 percent over the same period a year ago when the college recorded 1,085 students.
“The numbers are good,” said Margaret Sanchez, KCC vice chancellor of student affairs.
She said their numbers are the biggest increase in the community college system.
”Everyone else appears to be holding steady,” she said.
Late registration continues during normal business office hours until 4 p.m. Friday.
Sanchez was preparing a ho‘okupu for the piko with the help of Isaiah Kahawai, acting vice chancellor until Sanchez’s confirmation.
“This is the first time we’re having the piko at the ahu,” Kahawai said. “There are some schools who do piko at 8 a.m., daily. We’re just doing it today at noon to get people focused and ready for the semester.”
The ahu, named Hoaka Lei, was created in April, 2015 — the same date and time the University of Hawaii at Manoa finished its ahu, said Pualani Rossi of the Kauai Community College Hawaiian Studies program. When it was created, there were representatives of each moku who brought rocks to build the ahu, a place where people can come for a moment of quiet, or to offer ho‘okupu.
“This is a happy time,” said Chancellor Helen Cox who offered the closing oli for the short gathering of the college’s staff and students. “This place is buzzing. I dropped in on Noel Mock at the Bookstore earlier, and the line of students was past the door, and Noel was doing his best to take care of them since Sheane Mandrigues retired.”
Cox said one of the new things offered for new students was an orientation formatted similar to speed dating where students were paired with faculty to answer any concerns the students had.
“I was paired with a couple of new students,” Cox said. “This morning, I saw some of them and they recognized me with a big smile showing their confidence in this new place.”
Cheyenne Balino was one of those students.
“This is the first day of my first year,” Balino said. “I met my friend Janelle Olores from when we were in middle school. We haven’t talked so much since then. But this is very exciting and motivating. Now, this is for us.”
Olores said she was a student until her dad passed and she had to drop out to care for the family.
“I changed my major from business to accounting,” Olores said. “We stopped to raise our family. Now, I can show my daughter who is 14 years old, that if I can do it at my age, she can, too.”