KAPAA — Vice Principal Kalei Arinaga didn’t get to see much of Kapaa Elementary School’s May Festival Friday.
But as the chairperson, with many duties to oversee during the program, she didn’t mind.
“From what I learned, it went very well,” she said with a smile.
Very well, indeed.
About 500 proud parents, aunties and uncles attended the popular annual program on a hot, sunny morning. The 90-minute program, which pays tribute to Hawaii’s culture and traditions, was highlighted by song, dance, and boys and girls wearing brightly colored shirts, dresses and lei.
Students took on the roles of spearsmen, ladies-in-waiting, royal kahili bearers, crown carrier and cape carrier.
The king was fifth-grader Colten Nagahisa, and the queen was Waialoha Kaina, also a fifth-grader. Their grand entrance was preceded by the princesses and their escorts representing the Hawaiian Islands.
Hugs, smiles and praise were heaped on the students.
Veronica and Jason Nagahisa beamed with pride as they spoke of their son after watching him sit in the seat of honor next to his queen.
“That was an honor,” Veronica said.
Colten said he was nervous as he walked out to meet the queen. Once he shook off those early jitters, he enjoyed being the king, relaxed, and had fun with the role, which he said meant a lot to him.
“It was exciting,” he said.
Sean and Michelle Kaina were equally proud of their daughter.
“It was an honor,” Michelle said. “She worked really hard for this.”
Waialoha at one point danced alone for the king, always smiling as she moved gracefully and smoothly to the music.
“Happy,” she said when asked how she felt afterward.
“Pride,” her dad said when asked for his thoughts.
Kapaa Elementary’s May Festival celebration is the biggest of all the schools. Each grade performs a hula, taught to them by a kumu, including U‘i Gutierrez and Aloha Nunes. The May Festival Court also performs, as do the king and queen.
“Thank you, kumu, we love you,” students shouted several times before their turn to dance.
Arinaga took over as chairperson about 15 years ago because she didn’t want to lose this event that she and many consider an island treasure.
“This is an important part of our culture,” she said.
The May Festival is described as one of sharing, learning and being together.
“It’s a way to celebrate the end of the year that goes far beyond tests and scores,” Arinaga said.
“This is a time for family, friends and celebration,” she added.
Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.