LIHUE — Kauai’s keiki are cooking.
They’re building science experiments. They’re learning to play ukulele. They’re skateboarding and joining drama clubs. They’re even building robots and working with 3D printers.
For the fourth consecutive year, elementary and middle school students can choose from more than 50 after-school clubs and mentoring programs at nine locations islandwide through Aloha Angels’ Adopt an After-School club program.
“There simply is very little on Kauai in the way of after-school enrichment programs in our elementary and middle schools,” said Marion Paul, director of Keiki to Career. “Aloha Angels is filling a great need for the island.”
Aloha Angels Adopt an After-School-Club gives students a chance to learn, to blossom, and have a mentor, say organizers.
The clubs are free due to the generosity of Aloha Angels donors.
“Students need to belong and be loved by someone,” said state Department of Education Kauai Area Superintendent Bill Arakaki. “Having teachers as mentors provides an opportunity to have someone that they can talk to. It’s very important because many of the students may not have that person. We have families that are really trying to work, very hard, to get double jobs and so on.”
New to Aloha Angels this year is an after-school program known as Adopt-a-Band that will see rock bands compete in an islandwide Battle of the Bands in May.
Each band has a weekly rehearsal with a coach from Bandwagon Music Center, a partner in the program. In addition, students who are selected for the program will receive a free semester-long scholarship to Bandwagon Music centers in Lihue and Kilauea.
“Bringing the schools to Bandwagon gives children mentors that are teenagers and adults, teaching all types of music,” said Dr. Marie Terry-Bivens, a psychologist who works with the state Department of Education.
This year’s club offerings have also given mentors the opportunity to provide additional supplies.
“From science kits for Wilcox El’s Science Olympiad, money for costumes for Kilauea El’s drama production, and even a new MacBook Pro for Kevin Matsunaga’s advanced editing and multimedia program at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School,” said Ron Margolis, board advisory member of Aloha Angels.
Aloha Angels is supported by local donors and foundations. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg’s recent contribution of $20,000 will benefit 20 mentoring clubs and over 200 keiki.
People with special talents and a heart for service are invited to become Aloha Angels mentors.
“We contribute to the future of Kauai’s education programs by demonstrating that volunteers can have a significant impact on helping students and teachers reach their goals,” Margolis said. “And we want to do whatever we can to increase the diversity, excellence and compassion that our clubs provide.”
New donors can adopt an individual club for $1,000 or a band for $3,600.
“The mentors help the students to build upon their natural gifts and talents,” saiud Sherry Gonsalves, Kilauea School principal and co-creator of the club programs. “They encourage them and, most importantly, they believe in the students.”
She said they have seen students who are super-excited to come to school who previously did not want to come to school.
”And it’s because they formed relationships with this significant adult, this teacher, this mentor from the community or other students within their group,” she said. “We know that these clubs count in the lives of our students. Just ask them.”