The E Ola Pono campaign, which encourages youth groups to promote peace, pono and respect at their schools and communities through student–led campaigns, celebrated its 10th year with winning projects from across the state. The campaign was created as a cultural response to bullying in the schools. Student groups are encouraged to actively Grow Pono – to foster respect and harmony.
“This campaign is an excellent example of showcasing student voice and leadership,” said Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. “Congratulations to the winning schools and all of the entrants who put a lot of thought and time into these projects that promote positivity within our schools and communities.”
Six schools in three divisions received recognition and monetary awards for their campaigns.
· First Place: Na Wai Ola Public Charter School (PCS)
Mountain View, Hawaiʻi Island
Na Wai Ola PCS’ māla (garden) program teaches students how to grow food, medicines and plants with aloha and respect. Shari Frias, the agricultural Science teacher and advisor for their pono campaign, observed that students who have been at their school for a few years have a personal connection and understanding of their māla, the environment and themselves. The older students have developed a strong connection to place. She tells her students that, “every plant in our māla has a place, and kulelana just like you. If we care about ourselves the way we care for our plants we will be pono, and balanced.”
· Second Place: Aliʻiolani Elementary School
The STAR Student Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) program at Aliʻiolani Elementary promoted kindness recognition. Every student at Ali‘iolani wrote down a time when they were kind to someone else and the Wall of Kindness was created. Campaign advisor, Tim Hosoda, shared, “In most programs the teachers do the recognizing, but with STAR Student, the students are the ones that get to do that. We noticed that students behave better because the know their peers are always watching them.”
· First Place: Ewa Makai Middle School
Ewa Beach, Oʻahu
Ewa Makai Middle initiated a campaign to foster pono with aloha with an emphasis on morality and ethics. Through various activities like Cheer Off and No One Eats Alone Day, the students formed a strong bond. Vanessa Ching, campaign advisor, shared, “The students have embraced the true meaning of pono, which is respect for self and others, and doing what is right even when no one is around. We now realize that it is both an individual and team effort to take action and influence positive behaviors and respectful actions in our community.”
· Second Place: Kailua Intermediate
Seventh and eighth grade students at Kailua Intermediate focused on how to mālama the Hamakua Marsh and the native birds in this sanctuary by watching and monitoring the birds, cleaning up trash dumped in the marsh and taking water samples. Campaign advisor Kimberly Tangaro, a science teacher at Kailua intermediate, shared, “As participants we learned how we can make small yet significant changes to help promote the health of the marsh. Our school culture was powerfully and positively impacted by learning about this unique and special place we call home or our community.”
High School Division:
· First Place (tie): Farrington High School
The Friends Program at Farrington High focused on the national “#BETHECHANGE” and “Spread the Word to End the “R” Word” initiatives because they wanted their school, students, and community to understand that they will all rise as one. Evelyn Utai, advisor of the Friends Program, shared, “The students in our Friends Program are educating their friends and classmates on what it means to be a caring individual. We promote that we are #ONEGOV” at Farrington High. It’s an amazing feeling to have my students walk through the halls and feel that they belong in the school.”
· First Place (tie): Hāna High & Elementary School
Hāna High’s ninth graders chose the topic of Environmental Sustainability. Students focused on educating the younger generation by passing down the teachings of their kupuna. Campaign advisor Angela Chronis, Hāna’s Social Studies teacher shared, “Both keiki and kupuna were excited to help take part in our campaign. After participating in E Ola Pono, students have a greater understanding and appreciation of the many steps it takes to launch a successful campaign.”
For more information about the E Ola Pono campaign and the 2016-17 winners, visit www.growingponoschools.com.