KEKAHA — Hawaii First Lady Dawn Amano Ige told students at the Kekaha School that if they read 20 minutes a day, they would have read about 1.8 million words in a year.
“And you would learn a lot,” Ige said Friday afternoon. “That might mean you could one day become the president of the United States, or even the governor. And how many of you would want to become the mayor?”
Ige’s appearance was met with enthusiastic response from the elementary school located in the westernmost point of the United States, and was an extension of her itinerary that brought her to Kauai to help recognize Kauai’s Older Americans as part of the Older Americans Month celebration.
Her visit to Kekaha School was to present the school with 250 Scholastic books to be used as part of the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge — A Magical Summer of Reading that starts Monday and continues through September. The initiative is available to first ladies and first gentlemen in all 50 states.
The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge also supplements the summer reading programs offered by the Hawaii State Public Library System, including the Waimea Public Library that services the Kekaha School community.
Kekaha School was selected to receive the books because of its literacy rates, and is a state Department of Education Title 1 school where 62.83 percent of its students are in the Title 1 category. The state Title 1 standard is schools that have a minimum poverty threshold of 47.2 percent.
In addition to the books, Ige also presented special governor’s commendations to teachers Tiara Fujii (grade 1), Laurell Rosare (grade 2), Hazel Wachi (grade 3), Adreanna Clark (grade 4) and Suzi Sakai (grade 5), for their work with kidbiz and Smarty Ants programs to improve literacy rates and Lexile scores of Kekaha School students.
“These are good programs that I used when I was a teacher,” Ige said. “It takes a lot of commitment from the teachers, and I did not get the program to as far as I wanted to before I left the school I was at. But they do work.”
Ige’s presentations supplement literacy improvement programs like the Kauai Planning and Action Alliance’s Keiki to Career initiative. It also helps the state DOE’s Early Literacy Project to help increase reading proficiency, a challenge being addressed by school Principal Marilyn Asahi and her staff.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.