The present came from caring community partners who teamed with the school on a recent Saturday. They include KEY Project, a Kaneohe-based family outreach center; Kahaluu, Kaneohe, Koolaupoko and Pali Lions Clubs; Greensfield Nursery; Hawaiian Earth Products; Yamashiro Building Supply; and Punahou School students. School personnel, parents and Kahaluu students also helped.
Students discovering the patio's "vast and wonderful change of space is like a present in the school’s Christmas stocking,” said KEY Executive Director John L. Reppun. The patio’s uses may include gatherings, lectures, conferences, and a quiet place for reading and reflection.
During their seven-hour Saturday, volunteers planted dry-land taro for Kahaluu’s Hawaiian Studies program run by Kumu Eldean Kukahiko with local farmers’ help. Others shoveled sand and gravel. KEY Kitchen Manager Ken Weir cooked delicious chili and rice to feed 75 volunteers.
While students pushed refreshment carts and served volunteers, the adults fostered a "spirit of collaborative teamwork, constantly communicating and consulting with one another," said Kahaluu Family Resource’s Melanie Afualo.
“The community values our school as the means for its keiki to expand their lives beyond our geographic boundaries,” said Kahaluu Principal Naomi Matsuzaki. “This pride and care has lifted Kahaluu from the depths of the Race to the Top restructuring to the jewel it is today. Hope and faith have no boundaries.”
KEY and the Kahaluu Lions Club approached Kahaluu last year. The club directs funds from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation into the community annually by accomplishing a community-service project, Reppun said. The foundation chose KEY to receive $10,000 upon this project’s completion, he added.
Reppun, a Benjamin Parker Elementary alum, challenges fellow "private, public and nonprofit community organizations to always strive to intersect with each other so that they can serve as legs to a stool,” or school, “to keep it from falling by design and able to stand if knocked over.” He also stressed the importance of parents, students and school personnel participating in school-community projects.