KANEOHE – Kaneohe Elementary School students, faculty and special guests dedicated its administration building after U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka, who once served as principal of the school.
This morning, Sen. Akaka's daughter, Millannie Mattson, and his first grandson, David Mattson, helped with the unveiling of a special plaque that will be displayed in the front office.
"My dad always tells us, 'You never stop learning. You always take advantage of the opportunity to learn even more. You learn here, you learn at home, you learn wherever you are and you use (those lessons) to the best of your ability," said Mrs. Mattson who read a message from her father to the students.
Many staff and community members made contributions in preparation for the dedication ceremony, which ranged from beautifying the campus to providing lei. The school's fourth and sixth graders performed an oli (Hawaiian chant) that was written by the school's custodian, Wali Camvel.
"While at Kaneohe, the Senator's most significant legacy is the model he provided as a school leader," said Principal Derek Minakami. "During his tenure, the norm for administrators was to be strict disciplinarians and less accessible for students; however, Sen. Akaka stood out as a principal – he was sincerely interested in students and their learning."
In addition to education, Sen. Akaka was a champion of Native Hawaiian language and culture, veterans and the people of Hawaii. Sen. Akaka was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976, and served there for 14 years. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1990 until Jan. 3, 2013, when he retired.
"As we reflect on all that Senator Akaka worked towards on our behalf," said sixth grader Madison Matsuoka, "…keep in mind his quote regarding the power of education: 'I have witnessed how education opens doors, and I know that when sound instruction takes place, students experience the joys of new found knowledge and the ability to excel.'"
Founded in 1956, Kaneohe Elementary School is located on the east side of the island of Oahu and serves more than 600 students from preschool to sixth grade.
Here are a few more photos from the event: