Three Kanu o Ka ʻĀina Public Charter School seniors recently graduated with community college academic certificates under their belts thanks to the school’s dual-degree program. The college credits from the academic subject certificates in Hawaiian Lifestyles will transfer to Hawai‘i Community College to earn each student an associate's degree.
Kamehameha Schools was among the supporters of the new program at the Hawaiian-focused school in Waimea.
“Kanu o Ka ʻĀina was born out of an aspiration to provide a world-class education that is both culturally and academically rigorous and prepares students for life-long community contribution,” says Mahina Paishon-Duarte, Kanu o Ka ʻĀina secondary program poʻo kula (head of school).
“We are ecstatic about our early success with delivering dual-degree programs and are extremely proud of this year’s graduating class.”
The Hawai‘i island charter school serves more than 330 students in grades kindergarten through grade 12. There were 10 students in the 2016 graduating class. Seniors Kaʻihikapu Maikuʻi, Hokulani Henshaw and Kamalei Matsumura earned academic certificates from Hawai‘i Community College in Hilo through the early college program. In the upcoming school year, more than 40 percent of the school’s seniors will be enrolled in the program.
“Kanu’s dual-credit system is a definite highlight of the early college program,” says Maikuʻi, who plans to major in biology and human sciences at Hawaiʻi Pacific University. “We are well-supported by community organizations and institutions such as Hawaiʻi Community College, Project Hoʻokuʻi and Kamehameha Schools which enabled me to attend college classes tuition free!
“Kanu has prepared me for future kuleana by exposing me to other cultural perspectives and lifestyles through travel to Australia and New Zealand. I also had the opportunity to intern and volunteer at our local hospital to help me get the feel of possible careers. I would like to mahalo my ʻohana, my school and community for supporting and opening up opportunities that have enlightened my life.” Maikuʻi’s classmates Hokulani Henshaw and Kamalei Matsumura also earned associate’s degrees.
Paishon-Duarte says that she and the Kanu o Ka ʻĀina ‘ohana are grateful for the community support they’ve received. Through collaborations with KS and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs the school secured $250,000 in scholarships and financial aid.
“I would like to express my mahalo to the Kamehameha Schools Ho‘olako Like Department and West Hawai‘i Region for their tremendous support,” said Paishon-Duarte. “Without these critical resources, we would not have been able to expand our early college services. We can accomplish anything when we work together. E kūlia i ka nu‘u!”
Established in 2000, Kanu o ka ‘Āina New Century Public Charter School located in Waimea on Hawaiʻi island, is a Hawaiian-focused, bi-lingual public charter school serving 334 students in grades K-12. Its motto – “Kūlia I Ka Nu‘u” – signifies the school’s efforts to provide a quality choice in education, as well as an ongoing focus on growth and excellence at all levels, a standard set by Hawaiʻi’s native forefathers.