Waimea High School JROTC spends Labor Day volunteering, connecting

  • Courtesy Waimea JROTC

    Waimea JROTC cadets clear a portion of a kalo (taro) farm in Waimea Valley on Labor Day.

  • Courtesy Waimea JROTC

    Waimea High JROTC cadets place flags on the Gather Federal Credit Union branch on Kaumuali‘i Highway in Waimea before Labor Day.

WAIMEA — The Waimea High School Army JROTC battalion, the Menehune Battalion, devoted Labor Day to connecting and giving back to the community, said Kahealani Numazawa-Pacanas, the battalion’s public-affairs officer.

“This is an important event for our program,” Numazawa-Pacanas said. “It is one of our largest sign-ups for any of our community-service events. The three-part community-service event commemorates the national holiday and connects our cadets and the community.”

Planned entirely by the cadet leadership, the battalion greeted the morning by raising American flags at select businesses in Waimea and Kekaha, the act being a way to introduce the underclassmen to one of the battalion’s frequent patriotic community-focused events. The posting of the flags on the main thoroughfares provides a positive image of the communities for residents and visitors alike.

“Labor Day continued with an outdoor open house on the school’s campus to showcase our diverse special teams, including Raiders, Air Riflery, Color Guard, Honor Guard, Armed Drill and Sabre Drill,” Numazawa-Pacanas said.

“The JROTC leaders were able to demonstrate the unique possibilities available to new cadets and parents to enhance their respective high-school experience.”

Moving under the flag-decorated avenue, the battalion adjourned to a kalo (taro) farm to work with the Kumano I Ke Ala nonprofit group in Waimea Valley.

“The cadets were intrigued and found it interesting and meaningful to integrate learning with community support while connecting them to traditional Hawaiian culture through the native farming plot,” Numazawa-Pacanas said.

“Working in the fields, the cadets learned the various aspects of heritage-based farming by proper application of organic fertilizers produced on-site as well as mulching and weeding the indigenous crops,” she said.

The demonstration of lessons learned — appreciating the many dimensions of producing crops and the significance of preserving the land and its culture — was evident in the result of the cadets’ hard labor.

“Cadets who participated in the events earned community-service hours, and those who participated in all three community service events earned the JROTC Community Service Ribbon to don proudly on their uniforms,” Numazawa-Pacanas said.

“By the end of Labor Day, the Waimea JROTC cadets had planned, coordinated and safely executed a myriad of activities that honored their nation, state, local communities and school while learning, growing and serving a larger purpose than self.”

The cadets and battalion leadership closed the day with a spaghetti and hot dog lunch provided by the JROTC Family Support Group, with large doses of team-building time as the cadets deployed to take down and retrieve the American flags posted in Waimea and Kekaha.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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