LIHU‘E — Back to school shifted into high gear, Wednesday, when about a hundred volunteers gathered to pack 3,000 backpacks with school supplies for Saturday’s Back to School Bash at the Kukui Grove Center.
“The Back to School Bash was moved back a week to this Saturday because there was a problem when the school supplies did not arrive on schedule,” said Melissa McFerrin-Warrack of the Kukui Grove Center. “This moved everything back a week to July 24, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.”
According to figures from the Department of Education, the school year 2020-2021 ended with more than 9,000 students registered in the Kaua‘i Complex Area.
The Hawai‘i State Department of Education marks July 28 as Teachers’ First Day with the period ofthen through Aug. 2 as Teacher Work Days where no students are in class. Students report to class starting Aug. 3.
Adjacent to the packing, Kumu’s Cupboard was open for business. Elysse Litvack, the Kumu’s Cupboard founder, announced that the nonprofit educational resource facility would be open during the school supplies packing, and is now hosting Back to School hours for educators.
“They were waiting when we opened the doors at 10 a.m.,” Litvack said on Wednesday. “The teachers are eager to get back to class.”
Among those waiting included Kumu Mary Rustick of Kula Aupuni Ni‘ihau A Kahelelani charter school, who used a large van to bring her staff of seven for some pre-opening school supplies shopping.
“This is a godsend,” Rustick said. “All of these supplies the teachers are getting cost a lot. Without Kumu’s Cupboard, they would be paying for them. I try to make it here at least three, or four times a year, but it’s hard from the Westside.”
Noelani Butcher, a teacher from ‘Ele‘ele Elementary School, agreed.
“I’ve been shopping all summer for school,” Butcher said. “But, having Kumu’s Cupboard is a godsend. It’s like Christmas, but at Back to School time.”
Over at the Alaka‘i O Kaua‘i Charter School, Director David “DJ” Adams announced a Campus Cleanup Day for its learning community this Saturday.
“It seems like time just flies by when people are having fun,” Adams said. “Now, we find ourselves counting down the days until we can welcome our learners back to campus Aug. 3.”
Alaka‘i O Kaua‘i has not been idle during the summer when it renovated the campus’s restroom facilities and changed over a number of the old lighting systems to more energy-efficient lights.
“A happy indication that the upcoming school year is coming quickly is the annual ‘Campus Cleanup Day,’” Adams said. “Last year, many people came forth to help us prepare and beautify the campus — many hearts and many hands quickly transformed campus into areas ready for our keiki.”
This year, the Campus Cleanup is governed by the county’s Tier 5 guidelines, which including breaking down the workforce into shifts and spaces on campus to remain in compliance with the current rules.
“Under these guidelines, we are allowed upwards of 75 people outside together without masks, and 25 people inside together with masks,” Adams said. “Just to be helpful, we will have a check-in and information desk set up on Main Campus to help with directions, provide information, and to perform a visit to campus temperature check just to keep everyone safe.”
The Back to School Bash, presented by Kukui Grove and a host of community supporters and individuals, will take place Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., in a drive-through format.
Activities will be available throughout the shopping center, including a COVID-19 vaccine clinic through the collaborative efforts of Wilcox Health, the Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation, Kaua‘i Region, and the Department of Health where all three COVID-19 vaccines — the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — will be available for anyone 12 years and older. Walk-ins are welcome from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the tents set up in the parking lot on the Hawai‘iUSA Federal Credit Union side of the shopping center.
“Our goal is to make sure everyone leaves with something,” McFerrin-Warrack said of the event described as the island’s largest school supplies giveaway.