Students spread pono through campuses, communities


The annual E Ola Pono campaign rewards student-led efforts to increase peace, kindness and belonging. As a cultural response to bullying and other negative behaviors in schools, student groups are encouraged to actively “Grow Pono” to create a more welcoming and safe environment for everyone at their school.​ For 2016, six schools were selected and will receive cash awards.

​​​​​​​​The 9th annual E Ola Pono statewide initiative encourages youth groups to promote peace, pono and respect at their schools and communities through student-led campaigns. To learn more and get involved, visit​.

Six schools in three school divisions are receiving recognition and monetary awards for their winning student-led campaigns — $1,000 for first place and $500 for second place. Congratulations to:

Students from Pope Elementary's Malama 'Aina project protecting native plants at their area beach in Waimanalo.


Mālama 'Aina project (5th & 6th graders)

Blanche Pope Elementary School entered projects from both 5th and 6th grade to show how growing pono is impacting their school and their community of Waimanalo. The 5th graders have worked hard in their school garden – Ka Mala Lani – learning how to successfully grow food that flourishes in the ahupua‘a of Waimanalo. The 6th graders broadened their scope to mālama the ‘aina by getting permission from the Department of Land and Natural Resources to adopt an area at Waimanalo Beach, where they worked to get rid of invasive plants and rubbish that are killing native plants.

“To most, mālama ‘aina just means cleaning and picking up trash. But for me, it means 30 minutes of going around taking out invasive plants and saving the native ones. I would do whatever it takes to mālama ‘aina, would you?” — Tyron, grade 6

“Every student has leadership potential because leadership is influence. Through Ka Mala Lani, the garden grows and influences character and leadership principles through the power of an image, a conversation or an experience.” — Eda Kaneakua, Garden & Cultural Educator


Peace Garden & Benches

Through the garden club, Buddy Bench helpers and the Peace Project students wanted to promote peace and pono through words and actions. The Buddy Benches on campus have positive words as a subtle reminder to live aloha. By participating in these service clubs, students feel a sense of peace and belonging, and will be able to spread their kindness to others.

“When we see people helping or doing something positive, it makes you want to do the same. One kind deed leads to another.” – Peace Committee student group reflection

“Students and teachers are excited about seeing the positive words painted on the benches and helping at the Peace Garden. We now have over 300 students signed up to help at the benches and at the garden.” — Counselor Sharon Kakigi

Middle/Intermediate School

The Leadership E Ola Pono Campaign (see photo gallery, top)

The Ewa Makai Middle School leadership group was concerned about student behavior. Over the past few months irresponsible behaviors were increasing. These negative behaviors were also being displayed in the community and nearby businesses.

“We want others to see us making intentional everyday decisions to use respect for oneself and others in an ethical and considerate manner whenever we interact, listen and work with others. This will ultimately lead to harmony and fostering a culture of mindful and thoughtful people.” – Leadership group students reflection

“Our campaign persuaded our entire student body (940 students) to be respectful and considerate of others, and especially their community partners and family members. As a school and community, we will continue to embrace that there is no “I” in “team.” — Student Activities Coordinator Vanessa Ching

Online virtual academy located in Miloli‘i, Hawai‘i. Aloha ‘Aina and Kapu Aloha Project

“We wanted to show that our projects within the community showcase peace and pono at its highest, focusing on our fishing projects, ‘aina-based projects, and projects that talk about the body, mind and spirit — pono through fishing, pono through ‘aina and pono through our kino (body).

We wanted our community to learn that we can return to a way of balance, peace and prosperity. Our program has eight students, however, our campaign impacts our entire school of 170 students and 20 staff, and it also impacted our community of Miloli‘i with more than 300 people who live and call Miloli‘i home.” — Project teacher Kaimi Kaupiko

Fa​​rrington High's Friend Program members proudly wearing their "Disable the Label" t-shirts to "Build a world of #respect." Below, their campaign to End the R-Word.

High School

Friends Program

In a world where it is uncommon for the popular athletes to "hang out" with students with special needs, Farrington High's Friends Program is turning that on its head. The Friends Program consists of 25 general education students and 15 LifeSkills students. Every Wednesday they meet during lunch to eat, play games and enjoy each other's company.

"As a program we are making a statement that students with special needs are not INVISIBLE, but INCREDIBLE.” – Educational Assistant & Advisor Evelyn Utai

“We want them to learn that they shouldn’t ignore someone because they are different! How boring would the world be if we were all the same! Embrace each other’s differences!” – Student group reflection

Everyday Heroes project

“Every year Mililani High school girls volleyball fundraise and create awareness about breast cancer. Our efforts have included cupcake sales, donations collected at one of our games, and/or a servathon. This year our servathon theme was based on superheroes. Our girls dressed out on for this event and raised over $2,000. These superheroes have been our everyday heroes as they pledge to uphold such character traits as respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, citizenship, fairness, and caring. By doing so it is our hope to create "pono" in this world.” — Mililani girls volleyball coach Val Crabbe

“During the 2015 volleyball season we learned to become everyday heroes. Throughout the season we practiced each of the 6 pillars of character which were respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, trustworthiness, and citizenship.” — Mililani High School Volleyball girls reflection

​​Growing Pono SchoolsAs a cultural response to bullying in schools, student groups are encouraged to actively “Grow Pono” to create a more welcoming and safe environment for everyone at their school.


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