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Kani Ka Pu, Sounding of the Pu. L-R: Bronson Griep, Kellan Wortmann, Marcus Punua, Travis Kim

Featuring Island School May Day

Article and photos by Anne E. O’Malley

School May Day programs are popular throughout the month of May with more still to come. Each has its own poignant beauty as teachers, students and staff gear up for the adorable spectacle that is May Day in the schools around these Islands.

Hundreds of families, friends and well-wishers of Island School in Puhi flocked to the Samuel W.and Edith K. Wilcox Gymnasium for that school’s May Day program earlier this month. Titled Hanohano Kalalea the event focused on the hill inland of Anahola that Mary Kawena Pukui describes in Place Names of Hawai`i the book she wrote along with Samuel H. Elbert and Esther T. Mookini.

In the book, she says the hill “has a conspicuous hole near the top said to have been pecked open by Hulu, a supernatural bird, who wanted to see Anahola on the other side. Hulu could also change himself into a man and mo`o. Another version, perhaps later, is that the Kaua`i hero, Kawelo, threw his spear through the hole.”

The hole has since collapsed, but legends will remain.

In any case, each year, this school builds its program based on a district of Kaua`i. Some of the music, hula and songs touch on the theme.

In this year’s May Day program, the sixth grade did a lovely slow hula to “Kalalea,” choreographed by the school’s assistant development director, Daryl Edwards.

Composed by Keali`ikua`âina Kahanu and Kaleialoha Williams, “Kalalea” speaks of the Anahola land feature with mists on it, how the person in the song yearns to see it and feel the gentler breeze and closes with the

[translated] line, “That’s where I am with my sweetheart.”

Also each year, a few students who live within the designated theme area are picked to read short essays they’ve written about their communities. In the program, these essays are called student reflections .

One of the essayists, Leila Breen, Class of 2016, read her essay about living in Waiakalua. For Kaua`i asked if she would be willing to share it with our readers, and she agreed.

Here it is.

Hello everybody, my name is Leila Breen. I am in eighth grade and I have lived in the northern part of the Ko’olau district all of my life. Never once have I wished to live anywhere else on this island.

       The Ko’olau district is a beautiful place to live, through and through. From the towering mountains behind my house in Kilauea farms, to the cool winding rivers, to the awe-inspiring lookouts of Kilauea Crater, to the glistening warm sands of Secret beach, I can only describe where I live as paradise on earth.

       I wake up early every day to catch the bus to school and I am greeted by the Technicolor sunrise, lighting up the clouds. It is an amazing way to start my day. 

       Nature, however, has a way of keeping things in perspective. I’ll never forget waking up to the news of the Kaloko Dam break. No Technicolor sunrises for over a month. Only torrential and, as it turned out, deadly rains. I’ve come to realize that I shouldn’t take for granted the paradise that I call home.

       Thank you and enjoy the program!


Leila Breen

Island School’s May Day Committee was co-chaired by Hawaiian Studies teacher Sabra Kauka and music teacher Rose Alfiler. Musicians included primarily students, with a few adults, including Kirk Smart, Jerry Jona, Berto Genovia, Pali Carbonel and Robbi-Lyn Contrades doing special vocals.

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