KAHILI — Alakai O Kauai Charter School is preparing to open this summer at the former Seventh-day Adventist School at Kahili Mountain Park.
“I want Alakai O Kauai to be a place that inspires kids to stretch their minds and dream and discover and explore and learn and fail and learn from failure and figure out what makes their heart sing,” said Denise Trentham, school director, during a recent meeting.
The tuition-free charter school still has a few openings in grades K through 5. For the 165 seats available in the founding class, 137 students have completed enrollment, with an additional 28 students in the process.
The school will start with two kindergarten classes and one each of first through fifth grades.
Alakai has been approved for a K-8 school and will add grades in subsequent years starting with the 2019-20 school year.
With state standards as the foundation, project- based learning is one of the research strategies the school will employ.
Kani “DrB” Blackwell announced she would be stepping down as chair of the governing board at its May 16 meeting. She will remain on the board one more year, as Rick Eckert takes over the leadership.
“I’ve always seen solid education as being an investment in our communities, both economically and socially,” Eckert said. “Project-based learning focuses on each individual and how they learn.”
Blackwell solicited input from parents about why they were interested in sending their children to the new school. One father responded that a smaller school environment will offer more personalized attention.
Individual learning plans will be created for each student to build on strengths and address specific needs. Leadership development, Hawaiian culture and foreign language instruction will be part of the school experience as well. Students will work on teams in multi-age classes on projects.
“Learning should be fun,” Blackwell said. “Our island needs a place for kids who learn differently, who dream big, who want to have voice and choice in their learning. Alakai will be a place for active, hands-on learning — a place where all learners are welcome, valued and loved.”
Work on the new facility continues with support from Knudsen Trust and iLEAD Schools Development, which has been contracted for services. Refurbishments include a new roof, upgraded technology, landscaping and roadway improvements.
The completion target date for all renovations is June 27. The school will be open for scheduled tours in July. Transportation options are being explored to accommodate students from Kapaa and Lihue.