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Gr. 2 haumāna Brielle Caycayon presents her counselor Ruben Yamada with a mahalo card. The mahalo card campaign was one way haumāna could show their gratitude to counselors during National School Counseling Week, Feb. 5 – 9.

Haumāna say mahalo to counselors during National School Counseling Week

Feb. 8, 2024

During National School Counseling Week at KS Kapālama, haumāna showed gratitude for the help they've gotten from counselors. “Their unwavering support has been a guiding light through the ups and downs of my journey. They have not only pushed me to confront challenges but also provided invaluable insights that have fueled my personal growth. Their commitment to my well-being and success has made a profound impact on my life,” said one high school senior, about his counselor Kumu Vicky Kamaka.

“I want to thank them for always helping me in school, and life,” said a middle schooler whose counselor, Kumu Porsche Pu‘ulei-Storm, helped out with friend-related issues. Describing the experience of seeking out their counselor, they said, “at first it feels kind of weird, but when you realize they are there to help you, you can talk about anything.”

“I want to mahalo both Mr. Koide and Ms. Kanahele for making me feel like I could say anything and not feel judged,” said another middle schooler. “Having that feeling is more than I could ever ask for.”

KS Kapālama has a dedicated roster of counselors to support haumāna from kindergarten through high school and even beyond. While a typical school might have a ratio of 400 students to one counselor, the “ideal” recommended ratio is 250 to 1. That's the ratio of counselors to students at the KS Kapālama elementary school - and it gets smaller as the needs increase at higher levels. By 11th and 12th grades, the ratio is an impressive 75 to 1. “We're right on the ideal and then we just get better as the students get closer to the next chapter in their lives, whether that be college or career. There's more individual support for them,” said Kamuela Binkie, Director for Campus Student Support Services. “If you ask any student, they will be familiar with who their counselor is, because of those low counselor ratios.”

While older students grapple with career and future matters, Binkie says working with a counselor is important at every level - no matter how big or small the issues may be. “For students, it's not only for dire situations. When you look at one of the biggest supports for students to be successful it's a kind, caring adult. And if you have that kind, caring adult who's an advocate for you, you're much more likely to be successful.”

A kindergartener whose counselor is Ms. Leiali‘i Tagupa says she helps him with “self control, dealing with other students, and how to make pono choices.” His advice to friends: “Counselors are nice and help you do pono stuff.” Binkie says these types of early interactions pay dividends. “Our success is measured through the E Ola! Learner Outcomes, but you can't get to the E Ola! Learning Outcomes if you don't pay attention to wellness, safety and health - that's the foundational piece - ‘O ke kahua mamua, mahope ke kūkulu‘.”

The middle schooler who worked with Mr. Trent Koide and Ms. Tiffany Kanahele learned how to handle a bullying situation. “Talking to my counselor helped me by also meeting with the bully and understanding we aren't so different. Also, the talk has given me the skills and confidence that I can handle anyone like this in the future independently.” Kumu Vicky Kamaka‘s high school student had a life-changing experience through counseling. “During my junior year, I was in a bad spot. I really struggled every day at school, showing up hours late, leaving early, and cutting class. It got to the point where I was determined to drop out of school or graduate early. My counselor sat down and really challenged me. She made me realize that what I thought I wanted to do, wasn't actually what I wanted, or what was best for me.” He now plans to attend university in the fall.

Binkie said that certain ‘ōlelo no‘eau come to mind in regards to the counselors, “the first one is ‘alo a he alo.‘ Translated it means face to face. And so it's building relationships with students. From a cultural standpoint, that is so, so important.” The other, he says, is “‘Mōhala i ka wai ka maka o ka pua - unfolded by the water are the faces of the flowers.' It talks about where living conditions are good, people thrive. It's a very holistic approach from a Hawaiian standpoint.”

One senior who said they “frequent the counselor's office for many reasons,” and is grateful to their counselor, Kumu Pīkake Renaud-Cashman, advised fellow haumāna, “these resources that Pauahi has blessed us with are provided for a reason, for you and your individual struggles, so take advantage of it. Even if it isn't a ‘big' deal, anything that's weighing you down can be lifted easily if you just talk about it with someone or cry about it with someone. So yeah, go to your counselor, build pilina with your counselor, and allow them to help you. No shaming, no condemnation, just pure aloha and care for your well-being and health.”

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