‘We’re all connected’

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Sam Potter, one of the first students at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School when the school opened 20 years ago, talks about making a difference, Wednesday following the airing of his video on the Mauna Kea gathering during the school’s 20th anniversary that celebrated looking to the future based on the past.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Sean Chun gets the help of Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School teacher Enoka Karatti in explaining La‘au Lapa‘au during one of the breakout classes about looking at the future based on the past, Wednesday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School student Teighlor Abreu talks about sustainability while Sean Chun leads a class in La‘au Lapa‘au, Wednesday during the 20th anniversary celebration at the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School

PUHI — Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School is celebrating its 20th anniversary as it opens its doors for the first week back to school with lessons in history and sustainability.

On Wednesday, while the front office was busy with beginning of the year details, students at Chiefess were gathered at stations across campus listening to presentations on Hawaiian culture, reef protection, hydroponics, and voyaging.

Sam Potter, videographer and Chiefess alumni, shared his video about Hawaii’s unique attributes, and gave keiki a pep talk about protecting what you love.

Potter said he’s proud to be a part of the teaching experience at a school where he learned his own lessons. He enthusiastically shared parts of his story about being on Mauna Kea and showed footage of Dwayne Johnson on the mountain.

“We are what makes Kauai, Kauai and it’s up to us to do our part to keep it (special), to keep it the way it is,” Potter said. “Think about what you do, where your food comes from, where your trash goes, your community and if you have a passion for something, go for it.”

Chiefess student Rylie Donahoe said she was inspired.

“We’re all connected no matter our race or where we come from,” she said.

Donahoe was thinking about ways to preserve her home, suggesting she should spend more time in her family garden and pointing out they already have chickens that produce eggs.

“I could cut down on plastics,” Donahoe said.

Seventh-grader Matthew Estrada said he’d been learning about medicinal plants from Sean Chun, as well as different healing techniques used by the ancient Hawaiians. Chun also showed students elements of traditional massage.

Estrada said he thinks modern medicine works better.

“That’s what they used before, now people have medicine, you can just go to the pharmacy,” Estrada said. “We did get a free massage, though.”

Principal Debra Badua said the theme of the year is, “The past can guide our future”, and this is just the first of several opportunities for keiki to learn about the connection between sustainability and history.

“This time we’ve invited primarily cultural practitioners to talk about the wisdom of our kupuna,” Badua said.

The break-out sessions and guest speakers will be available once a quarter at Chiefess in celebration of 20 years in education.

Eighth-grader Sofia Saunders said she saw a connection between learning about Hawaiian voyaging and stories from Mauna Kea and lessons about reef protection.

“Now we know better about our planet and we have to help it,” Saunders said. “Sustainability means reduce, reuse, recycle and we have to do our best to preserve it (Earth).”

Kulea Kauwe, seventh grade, was interested in seeing traditional ways of living because “they stand up for what they think is right.”

“We could help by doing simple things like picking up rubbish when you see it,” Kauwe said.

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