In commemoration and celebration of the late Senator Daniel K. Akaka and his legacy, the Akaka family, Playground Art Crew, Pena People and Kaneʻohe Elementary hosted a mural unveiling this morning. The ceremony featured a mural of Senator Akaka created by artists Jeff Kaneta (Playground Art Crew), Lauren Hana Chai (Pena People) and Lauren Okumoto (Pena People).
"We are so proud of this mural because we all that we ask is for people to remember [Senator Akaka] and his legacy. As the kids pass by the mural every day, it'll serve as a wonderful reminder for future generations" said Millannie Mattson, Senator Akaka's daughter. "My father's focus was educating the children of Hawaiʻi and the mural does a great job encapsulating that."
Senator Akaka started his storied public service career as a teacher at Kahuku High, Pearl Harbor Intermediate and Aina Haina Elementary. He went on to become an administrator leading schools such as ʻEwa Elementary, Pohakea Elementary and ultimately Kaneʻohe Elementary.
"When the artist first presented the mural idea, I was thrilled because it reflected our school's values and approach to education, which was exemplified by the late Senator during his time as Principal here," shared Miyuki Sekimitsu, third grade teacher at Kaneʻohe Elementary. "Our artists spent long hours working on the mural, day and night, in the rain or shine, all in honor of an incredible man with a remarkable vision."
The Senator's words are also featured on the mural and show his passion for education, stating, "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."
The ceremony included an opportunity for the Akaka family and Kaneʻohe Elementary students to "leave their mark" by adding their handprint to the mural, which marked the completion of the project.
"Senator Akaka, who was a principal at Kaneʻohe Elementary for several years, made a profound impact on education in Hawaiʻi, and has done so much for our people and community," added Principal Derek Minakami. "He'll always have a special place in the hearts of the Kaneʻohe Elementary ʻohana, and we are honored to turn his legacy into a lasting piece of art for future generations to enjoy and learn about him."