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The Year in Hawaiʻi's Public Schools Hawaiʻi State Department of Education | 2018

January 2018

Kula Kaiapuni Hawaiian Language Immersion Program celebrates 30 years

Hawaiʻi is the only state that has designated a native language, Hawaiian, as one of its two official state languages. In 1987, in light of the Hawaiʻi State Constitution mandate to promote the study of Hawaiian culture, language and history, HIDOE established the Hawaiian Studies Program and the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program.

HIDOE's commitment to the revitalization of the Hawaiian language continues with Hawaiian language immersion education at nearly two dozen schools statewide. Kaiapuni schools deliver instruction exclusively through the medium of Hawaiian language until grade 5, whereupon English is formally introduced.

Hawaiʻi Island senior selected for US Senate Youth Program

Kealakehe High School senior Maya Kiana Gee (left) was selected as one of two students to represent the state at the 56th annual USSYP Washington Week. Lily Katz, a senior at Maui's Baldwin High School (right), was chosen as an alternate.

Challenger Center Hawaiʻi at Barbers Point Elementary marks its 25th anniversary with a special visit from NASA Astronaut Jack D. Fischer.

Astronaut Fischer honored local Hawaiʻi astronaut Ellison Onizuka and the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger and students from Ewa Elementary ran real-world flight simulations and mission experiments.

February 2018

Ken Kang, Aiea High's tech coordinator, receives the prestigious 2017-18 Milken Educator Award

Kang's work in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses and his leadership in developing the technological infrastructure at Aiea High and six other schools in the Aiea Complex impressed the Milken Family Foundation.

Kang, a proud graduate of Aiea High School returned as a teacher to give back to the students and community, and received the surprise award in a school assembly in front of over 1,000 cheering students, teachers and staff. Regarded as the "Oscar Award of Teaching," the award honors outstanding excellence in education and comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize.

"I totally realized that this warm feeling of working with students, being able to help them focus on their futures, was so much more rewarding thaN just finishing up my project or my design," said Kang. "I felt that much more joy in giving back to our students, who will become our future."

Hawaiʻi School Counselor of the Year honored in ceremony with former First Lady Michelle Obama

Keolu Elementary counselor, Bianca Yanuaria, represented Hawai‘i in Washington, D.C., at the American School Counselor Association’s 2018 Counselor of the Year ceremony. Yanuaria was selected out of more than 600 public and private school counselors across the state.
“It’s an honor to represent the state as the School Counselor of the year. It’s humbling to be recognized for doing what I’m passionate about, which is helping students realize their potential and to make sure they are ready to face any challenge life throws their way,” shared Yanuaria. “Mahalo to these wonderful counselor associations for this opportunity and for supporting school counselors like me.”

Vibrant otherworld captured by Moanalua High 'Creator' earns top art award

Moanalua High Freshman Arianne Javier was named an American Visions nominee in this year's Hawaii Regional Scholastic Art Awards program. The honor is given to the "best in show" works among the 233 selected this year from across the state. Nominated works are eligible for national awards and scholarships in the spring. Arianne said she was astonished to learn of the honor.

March 2018

Hawaiʻi's Farm to School program gets new name and look

HIDOE and the Office of the Lieutenant Governor unveiled a new logo and name for the Farm to School Initiative. The program's new name – ʻAina Pono Hawaiʻi State Farm to School – and new logo are designed to unite all of the programs operated by HIDOE's School Food Services Branch.

Leilehua High JROTC heads to CyberPatriot National Finals Competition

A team of Leilehua High School JROTC cadets went to the CyberPatriot CP-X National Finals Competition in Maryland. This is the third consecutive Hawaii State CyberPatriot Championship for six of the team members.

Established by the Air Force Association, the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Program was created to excite, educate, and motivate students toward careers in cyber security and other Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation's future.

School Transition Center student mentors share best practices at inaugural conference

Students from Radford High, Leilehua High, Kapolei Middle & Pearl Harbor Kai Elementary shared their past experiences as new students transitioning into unfamiliar schools and outlined how they now work together as Student Mentors at School Transition Centers to help incoming students acclimate smoothly into their new environments at the 2018 Transition Centers Best Practices Conference.

Transition Centers have become a vital part of school designs and welcome all incoming students, especially those who are transferring from other locations, to ensure that they have social supports in place when they arrive so they can remain focused on academic achievement. Hawaiʻi has the highest number of military-dependent children per capita in the nation with the majority of these students attending 45 schools located on or near military installations in Oʻahu’s Central, Leeward and Windward School Districts.

April 2018

Hawaiʻi School for the Deaf and the Blind celebrates Earth Day with beautiful mural dedication

HSDB students wrapped up a week of Earth Day environmental lessons with a celebration with families and friends. A butterfly-themed mural created by former student Kristen Akina was dedicated with a message of inclusion, tolerance and diversity.

Stevenson Middle Principal Linell Dilwith named 2018 Hawaiʻi National Distinguished Principal​

"She could be described as a futuristic, 21st century principal who is able to move the past into the present and anticipate the needs of the future through a variety of successful initiatives at Stevenson Middle," said former Complex Area Superintendent Ruth Silberstein.

College, career readiness strengthens at Maui High

A strong commitment to Career and Technical Education and a robust partnership with UH-Maui College is expanding student horizons at Maui High School. More students are earning honors diplomas, finishing a CTE Program of Study, and enrolling in college courses while in high school. More Sabers are going to and staying in college than ever before.

Schools "Purple Up" to recognize military youth

Schools celebrated Purple Up Day (April 27) to recognize military youth for their heroism, character, courage and sacrifices. April is the national “Month of the Military Child."

May 2018

Kilauea fissures open in residential neighborhood, schools respond to assist impacted students

Near the end of April, significant volcanic activity began near the summit of Kilauea and resulted in lava fissures opening in the Leilani Estates Subdivision on May 3. The four-month event created lava fountains hundreds of feet high, volcanic explosions, ash clouds, toxic gas plumes and earthquakes, and destroyed hundreds of homes as a river of lava forced its way eastward toward the ocean. Schools worked diligently with families to ensure that all displaced students would be able to finish their school years.

Photo Credit: US Geological Survey

Palolo Elementary dedicates new Center for Creative HeARTS, Learning Garden & mural

The new Center for Creative HeARTS Learning Garden includes a weather station, erosion table, dryland taro patch, and STEM watering system that will provide hands-on lessons about environmental sustainability and stewardship.

Funded by a $90,000 School Design Innovation Grant, the Center repurposes an existing section of Palolo Elementary's campus to energize students with new tools and innovative resources.

Oʻahu students rally for Hanalei Elementary, raise funds after severe weather damages school

Students from Pearl City High and Lanakila Elementary raised approximately $2,000 in donations for Hanalei Elementary on Kauai, which was damaged by heavy rains in April. A temporary educational site remains open at Hanalei Colony Resort for students residing in Waikoko, Wainiha and Haena, areas that were heavily impacted by landslides that closed Kuhio Highway.

East Kapolei Middle School breaks ground for first construction phase

The $59 million first phase includes an administration building, library, cafeteria, classrooms, covered and open play courts, and a music building, with completion anticipated for the 2020-21 school year. A second phase will include health and physical education facilities as well as two additional classroom buildings, pending additional funding.

Honowai Elementary named a Green Ribbon School by USDOE

Honowai Elementary was selected for the prestigious award for its innovative efforts to reduce its environmental impacts and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. Students learn place-based lessons that incorporate solar energy, computer science and oral history. The school, which serves more than 700 K-6 students, also has a taro patch, and hydroponics and aquaponics systems.

June 2018

HIDOE receives grant to recruit transitioning and retired military members for teaching positions

HIDOE was awarded a Hawaiʻi Troops to Teachers (HTTT) grant. The federal funds totaling $600,932 over five years will help to align the Defense Department’s Troops to Teachers goals with HIDOE's diversified teacher recruiting and retention plan.

“Troops to Teachers is a smart approach to second career recruitment that directs efforts toward a highly skilled workforce who also have deep core values demonstrated through their selfless service to our country,” said Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto.

Hawaiʻi public school teachers honored with Presidential Award of Excellence in Mathematics & Science Teaching

Akeyo Garcia of Ewa Elementary (left) and Masaru Uchino of Momilani Elementary (right) were awarded the Presidential Award of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. It is the highest award K-12 mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers can receive from the US government. Recipients receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation and engage in education discussions in Washington, D.C.

HIDOE, Korea Ministry of Education and Institute of APEC Collaborative Education partner to host the 8th e-ICON World Contest in Hawaiʻi

The e-ICON contest, which stands for e-learning International Contest of Outstanding New Ages, brought teams together from countries all over the world to participate, including Australia, Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Spain and the US. The contest challenged students to create educational mobile apps as tools to achieve Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations. It was the first time the contest was held outside of South Korea.

Students and teachers representing Hawaiʻi/US this year were from Campbell High, Kapolei High, Waipahu High, Kalani High, Kawananakoa Middle, Ewa Makai Middle, Hilo Intermediate, Kalama Intermediate, Leilehua High and Waialua High & Intermediate.

July 2018

Honokaʻa High senior Keilani Steele is the inaugural recipient of the Hōkūala Scholarship — $10,000 to attend the college of her choice in pursuit of an astronomy degree. It was made possible by the Maunakea Scholars program, which also announced a dual-credit opportunity for Hawaiʻi Island partner schools to participate in a free online astronomy class starting this school year.

Hawaiʻi science teachers named Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellows

Two science teachers were awarded to the prestigious Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program, an honor that comes with a one-year federal research appointment in Washington, D.C. Only 14 educators nationwide were granted fellowships in 2018-19.

Kalani High science teacher Bryan Silver (right), will serve at the National Science Foundation's Directorate for Engineering. The branch is charged with supporting and investing in engineering research and education critical to the nation’s future.

Hilo Intermediate science teacher Pascale Creek Pinner (left and below), will serve at the US Department of Energy's Office of Science. The office is the lead federal agency supporting fundamental scientific research for energy and the nation's largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences.

August 2018

Kaiser High & Niu Valley Middle kick off the new school year with live TV performances

Kaiser High and Niu Valley Middle got School Year 2018-19 off to a rousing start with live interviews and performances by Kaiser's Color Guard and Niu Valley's percussion band.

SchoolMessenger invites parents to opt in to text message alerts

SchoolMessenger, a communication platform used to deliver text messages to mobile phones with important information about school events, closures, safety alerts and other important information, was launched to help keep parents & guardians informed.

September 2018

Schools persevere through severe weather to remain open for students

School officials worked vigilantly to ensure the safety of students and to assist communities in the face of natural disasters throughout the summer months and into the beginning of the new school year. These threats included Hurricane Lane (a Category 5 storm), a direct hit from Tropical Storm Olivia, the Kilauea lava flow and storm flooding on the Big Island, and destructive brushfires in West Oʻahu and on Maui.

Big Island residents and emergency officials attend a community meeting for Kilauea updates.

Photo Credit: NOAA Central Pacific Hurricane Center

Annual Strive HI performance update shows significant progress in language arts at Hawaiʻi schools

Smarter Balanced test scores showed English Language Arts/Literacy performance gains in all grade levels tested (Grades 3-8 and 11) and Math score increases in four of seven grades tested (Grades 3, 5, 6 and 11).

"We have a great story about what is happening in Hawaii's public education system. Progress over the past three years is promising with our cohorts of elementary school students entering the middle grades better prepared, and Language Arts performance growth across all tested grades," said Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto. "We anticipate that our high impact strategies around Student Voice, School Design and Teacher Collaboration and laser focus on gap areas will increase our momentum into the coming years."

Waikoloa Elementary & Middle School breaks ground for new construction

Construction was officially launched on a new two-story building (Building J) that will include classrooms for general and special education, science labs and art studios. A one-story annex will provide counseling spaces, a conference room and faculty workroom. The $13 million project will serve students in grades 6-8 and is scheduled to open for the 2020-21 school year.

Renderings courtesy of WRNS Studio.

October 2018

Three Hawaiʻi elementary schools named 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools

Kalihi Uka, Mililani Uka and Pauoa elementary schools were named 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools Program award winners by the US Department of Education. The program honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools based on academic performance and progress closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

Jake Shimabukuro and Music for Life Foundation dedicate Jake's Clubhouse at Ala Wai Elementary

A portable classroom at Ala Wai Elementary School has been transformed into the Jake Shimabukuro Clubhouse for Music Learning and Appreciation to enhance music education for students.

Known as “Jake’s Clubhouse,” the space is equipped with a range of instruments including more than 100 ukulele, a dozen guitars, four pianos and 15 percussion instruments, a mini recording studio, performance stage, classroom space and ukulele repair workshop.

The ukulele virtuoso and Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner is a former student of Ala Wai Elementary and helped dedicate the classroom along with the nonprofit Music for Life Foundation, which initiated the project.

Kealakehe Intermediate’s Mathieu Williams named 2019 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year

Williams received the state's top teaching award from Governor David Ige and Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto. The honor is presented annually to a classroom teacher selected from more than 11,000 educators within HIDOE.

"Mathieu's passion and dedication has accelerated Kealakehe Intermediate's technology and digital media program into a very popular focus among his students and has developed them into a nationally competitive team in two short years," said Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto. "His collaborative work to improve education through the sharing of best practices among his fellow Hawaii District teachers and community-based education programs has been truly inspiring. Mathieu has done amazing work to energize his students, his school and his community, and we look forward to even greater achievements from him in the future."
Williams will represent Hawaii in the National Teacher of the Year program and received a one-year lease of a new Nissan Leaf courtesy of the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association and Nissan Hawaii.

Williams was among seven District Teachers of the Year and one Charter School Teacher of the Year recognized for their outstanding service.

  • Shane Albritton, Public Charter Schools, School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability (SEEQS)
  • Brandon Arakawa, Maui District, Kahului Elementary School
  • Sean Doi, Kauai District, Kauai Complex Area Office
  • Sam Hankins, Honolulu District, Prince David Kawananakoa Middle School
  • Gail Izumigawa, Leeward District, Waipahu High School
  • Mary Ann Kurose, Central District, Radford High School
  • Debbie Morrow, Windward District, Kailua Elementary School

November 2018

Students report fewer incidents of bullying, cyberbullying

More than 16,300 public middle and high school students participated in the Hawaiʻi School Health Survey, a joint project of HIDOE, the Hawaiʻi Department of Health and the University of Hawaiʻi. The results show fewer public middle school students say they have been bullied at school over the last two years.

$1 million grant for STEM education at eight West Oahu schools

HIDOE received a $1 million grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Partnership that will fund Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education for K-8 students at eight military-impacted schools in the Campbell-Kapolei Complex Area over five years. The grant includes Ewa Makai Middle School and seven elementary schools: Ewa Beach, Holomua, Hoʻokele, Iroquois Point, Keoneʻula, Makakilo and Mauka Lani. Each of these eight schools has significant populations of military-dependent students whose parents serve in the various branches of military service.

December 2018

Niu Valley Middle music teacher Zachary Morita awarded $100,000 grant from Farmers Insurance

Morita’s winning proposal to establish what he envisions as the Niu Valley Music Olympic Invitational edged out hundreds of proposals from teachers nationwide competing in Farmers' annual Thank America’s Teachers® Dream Big Teacher Challenge®.

He initially was named one of 15 finalists and advanced to the online public-voting phase of the competition. From there, the top five vote-getters in the US each secured $100,000 prizes for their schools.

Stevenson Middle STEM students donate 3D-printed games and toys to children’s hospital

Stevenson Middle School students brought some holiday cheer to a nearby children’s hospital this week with the delivery of interactive toys the students designed and 3D-printed in their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) classes.

Nearly 50 seventh- and eighth-graders in Stevenson’s STEM and Video Art Computer Technology classes took a field trip to Shriners Children Hospitals – Honolulu to drop off their creations that included infinity cubes, fidget spinners and puzzles.

The project was made possible through an educational grant Stevenson STEM teacher Patricia Morgan won last year through the annual Thank America’s Teachers® Dream Big Teacher Challenge®, sponsored by Farmers Insurance.

All photo and video credit to the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education unless otherwise noted.

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