Project Snapshots

There is always something exciting and stimulating happening in PALS! Whether it is hiking, gardening, and cooking, or researching, writing, and performing, something new is always being learned as children and tutors pursue their questions and passions! Follow us on facebook or twitter or check this page frequently to see what's happening.

Current Projects

Aloha Āina
  • Grades 9-12

  • Wai'anae High School

  • Wai anae, Hawai‘i

 

Driving Question: How can we learn through the resources in our community and strengthen our sense of kuleana?

 

Students are actively engaging with community partners and resources in order to better understand the needs and opportunities that exist. Students participate in community-based activities and service projects.

 

A core project for the group is each students’ shaping of a pōhaku ku‘i ‘ai (traditional stone food pounder). Pounding foods like kalo (taro) and ‘ulu (breadfruit) were fundamental to ancient Hawaiians food preparation and storage practices. Shaping their own pounder from pōhaku (stone) in the traditional method imbeds within students an appreciation for the ingenuity of our ancestors, directly connects students with cultural practices that are valuable to this day, and leaves students with a concrete artifact of pride that they can carry with them through life.

To begin the process, the PALS tutors provided a brief introduction to traditional stone-on-stone carving methods by having students practice shaping ‘ulu maika (an ancient Hawaiian game of skill) stones. With a bit of patience and effort, students quickly picked up the technique of chiseling away at the softer stone being shaped through repeated taps with a harder carving stone. A few sessions, a score of ‘ulu maika disks, and a lot of stone powder later, and the students were ready to jump to the pōhaku ku‘i ‘ai.


Community expert and cultural practitioner Vince Dodge guided students past the last residences on the Wai‘anae Coast up to ‘Ohikilolo, the coastal area that for ages has been regarded as the prime location for selecting pōhaku to be carved. Kumu (teacher) Vince shared with students that Hawaiians have always treasured this beautiful area for the porous volcanic rock that washes up on the shore, adding that he drove all the way to the spot from Honolulu as a teenager when it came time for him to make his first pounder. When asked by this respected teacher why they were there that day, responses ranged from simple interests in learning more about culture to deep-seated motivations to create an heirloom that could be passed down to their future generations. As opposed to scouring the ground for the perfect rock, Kumu Vince advised the students to put themselves in a different mindset of peacefully observing nature and letting the natural environment lead them. This stone will become something dear to them, thus he instructed students to allow the right pōhaku to call them. If drawn to a particular stone, the teacher provided some simple methods by which to evaluate its size, shape, and hardness-- the practical qualities that are critical in carving the pounder. Kumu Vince further demonstrated the types of stone needed as tools for carving, shaping, and finishing their pōhaku ku‘i ‘ai. Once equipped with this insight, students chanted a traditional oli as protocol for entering the special area and set off awaiting the call from their pōhaku. The next hour or so presented a beautiful scene of young people quietly connecting with the place, testing candidates that could potentially become their pounder, and working alongside each other in making the first strikes on their stones.

Random Acts of Aloha
  • Grades 9-12

  • Wai'anae High School

  • Wai anae, Hawai‘i

 

Driving Question: How can we as human beings create a movement of kindness that will perpetuate itself into the lives of others?

 

Wai‘anae High School students are working collaboratively to bring joy to members of the community through random acts of kindness. Students share their talents and passions to brighten the days of others, discovering that the fulfillment of these acts are the true reward.

 

Clearly a product of the inviting atmosphere established by the tutors and the warm relationships they have built with students, attendance at this project has been overwhelmingly positive. On any given day, one will find 25 or even 30 high school students happily dedicating their after-school hours to working on projects aimed at bringing happiness to others.

 

In honor of Veterans’ Day, students created handmade cards thanking former servicemen for their commitment. As with all projects completed by the group, the idea came from students’ own brainstorming on ways to share aloha with their community. The final products were sent to a veterans’ home in Hilo.

After a successful Halloween celebration last school year at Kamaile Academy, the Random Acts of Aloha students decided to organize a Winter Holiday celebration this year for their elementary neighbors across the street. The high schoolers spent weeks creating various ways to spread holiday cheer among the K-6 participants in the Kamaile A-Plus after-school program. One sophomore wrote an entire script featuring Santa Claus and the Grinch that was performed by her and her classmates. Other students organized arts and crafts activities for the young ones, including the creation of a Santa hand puppet. Another group created games, including their fresh remake of an old party classic, “Pin the Carrot Nose on Olaf the Snowman.” The smiles and laughter that filled the Kamaile cafeteria for the afternoon made it clear that the aloha shared was beyond that of mere “random acts.”

Hawaiian Culture & Healthy Living
  • Grades 4-12

  • Kamaile Academy Public Charter School

  • Wai anae, Hawai‘i

 

Driving Question: How can we change our lifestyle today by learning about the healthy lifestyle of our ancestors of yesterday?

 

Originally intended to be two separate groups, the high school fitness group and upper elementary Hawaiian culture group saw an opportunity to align their respective focuses. Health and wellness were essential to the Hawaiians, perhaps as many as a million indigenous people that lived in harmony with the natural environment before contact with the Western world. Tutors and students agreed that in exploring the ways of our ancestors they can gain insight into what it means to be well and healthy in our islands today. At the same time, what better way to honor those who thrived in our community hundreds of years ago than by practicing a healthy way of life. Beyond the content, merging the two groups provides for the invaluable mentoring relationships between older and younger students. Every session makes clear how much the children look up to their senior classmates as well as the added thoughtfulness behind the high schoolers’ actions when their around their younger peers.

 

A regular routine within the group is a sharing circle. Tutors present students with a thought-provoking prompt related to their understanding of wellness, culture, and place. Everyone in the class takes a few minutes to silently reflect and write a response, then students volunteer to read their thoughts aloud to the group. It is a joy to see the often poignant ideas of children celebrated by their peers, many times the older members of the group encouraging and praising the younger. Translating this same collaborative joy to the physical and outdoor realm, the group ends every meeting with a physical activity on the playground. Girls and boys, young and old, put their discussion of health into practice as they run, play, compete, and share in active learning and community building.

 

A core project for the group is each students’ shaping of a pōhaku ku‘i ‘ai (traditional stone food pounder). Pounding foods like kalo (taro) and ‘ulu (breadfruit) were fundamental to ancient Hawaiians food preparation and storage practices. Shaping their own pounder from pōhaku (stone) in the traditional method imbeds within students an appreciation for the ingenuity of our ancestors, directly connects students with cultural practices that are valuable to this day, and leaves students with a concrete artifact of pride that they can carry with them through life. A key threat to health in the community is how far removed we have become from preparing, eating, and honoring the nutritious foods that once enabled the Hawaiians to thrive. The creation of the pōhaku ku‘i ‘ai is a direct link from the lessons of yesterday to wellness in the present day.


Community expert and cultural practitioner Vince Dodge guided students past the last residences on the Wai‘anae Coast up to ‘Ohikilolo, the coastal area that for ages has been regarded as the prime location for selecting pōhaku (stone) to be carved. Kumu (teacher) Vince shared with students that Hawaiians have always treasured this beautiful area for the porous volcanic rock that washes up on the shore.

Hui Lawai'a - KWON
Gardening Club - Waianae Elementary
Hui Lawai'a - KWON
Robotics - Makaha Elementary
Hana Ka Lima - KWON
Robotics - KWON
Papa Mele - KWON
PALS - Koa ʻĀina

University of Hawai'i at Manoa

Student Equity, Excellence & Diversity (SEED)

2600 Campus Rd., QLSSC 413

Honolulu, HI 96822

PALS (Place-based After-school Literacy Support)

Hana Ka Lima - KWON

After guest speaker, Travis Woo, visited with the Ka Waihona Hana Ka Lima group the class dove into the game called, Magic, the Gathering. This was a partnered tournament referred to as Two-Headed Giants.