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Representatives from seven Hawaiian-focused public charter schools and ‘Aha Pūnana Leo preschools were honored at a recent celebration at Kawaiaha‘o Plaza. Each school received a gift of a small kāhili crafted by KS’ Hoʻolako Like staff.

KS-supported schools earn accreditation

Sept. 26, 2014

Contributed by Elizabeth Ahana

ʻAha Pūnana Leo Hawaiian language immersion schools made history recently by becoming the world’s first early education program to earn accreditation by the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC).

In addition to this historical milestone, the seven Hawaiian-focused public charter schools at right earned the coveted six-year term of accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

These achievements bring the number of accredited Hawaiian-focused public charter schools and programs supported by KS' Hoʻolako Like Department to 12 out of a total of 18 supported by the trust statewide.

The Kamehameha Schools Hoʻolako Like Department serves over 4,100 students and provides nearly $4 million in per-pupil funding. It also provides over $1.1 million for WINHEC and WASC and accreditation support and preparation.

“The WINHEC accreditation has literally opened doors and opportunities for other indigenous programs to think of accreditation from a culturally grounded point of view,” says Hoʻolako Like Director Waiʻaleʻale Sarsona.

“Nothing like WINHEC exists now for our culturally focused schools. Pūnana Leo, being the first in the world to receive this accreditation, will pave the way for indigenous schools to one day add this to their list of accomplishments.”

The public charter school accreditation process requires schools to conduct rigorous self-studies of curriculum, operational standards, learner outcomes and more.

“KS was able to identify the successes and challenges of each of the schools who participated through the self-study process,” says Sarsona.

“Processes like these help to underscore the value of continuous self-improvement for each of these schools. I’m so pleased that each school took this opportunity to go through a rigorous process that would normally take three years – most completed it in two.”

WINHEC and WASC accreditation will help these schools and those receiving accreditation in the future leverage support by reiterating their relevance and credibility in the community, both from an academic and cultural foundation.

KS recently hosted a pāʻina at Kawaiaha‘o Plaza to celebrate the school accreditations. Each school was honored with the sharing of praise from accreditation team members and a gift of a small kāhili crafted by the Hoʻolako Like staff.

“Kamehameha Schools is proud to have played a part in your success through its Hoʻolako Like program,” said KS Interim CEO Jack Wong to the educators and administrators at the event.

“And as I look around tonight, I can see that our program has lived up to its name. Hoʻolako Like – to enrich together – is what we are doing for culture-based education today, to ensure a vibrant future for all Hawaiians for generations to come.”

Photo by Shaun Chillingworth. See more pics in the photo gallery section.

Newly Accredited Schools

Eight KS-supported schools recently earned accreditation. All emphasize Hawaiian culture, language, values, practices and traditions.


Ka ‘Umeke Kā‘eo Hawaiian Immersion Public Charter School – Hilo, Hawaiʻi

Kawaikini New Century Public Charter School – Līhuʻe, Kauaʻi

Ke Kula Niʻihau O Kekaha Learning Center Public Charter School – Kekaha, Kauaʻi

Hālau Kū Māna Public Charter School – Makiki, Oʻahu

Kamaile Academy Public Conversion Charter School – Waiʻanae, Oʻahu

Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School – Kamuela, Hawaiʻi

Kualapuʻu Elementary New Century Public Charter School – Kualapuʻu, Molokaʻi


ʻAha Pūnana Leo – 11 Hawaiian immersion preschools statewide

Hoʻolako Like – to enrich together – is what we are doing for culture-based education today, to ensure a vibrant future for all Hawaiians for generations to come.
KS Interim CEO Jack Wong

special event,kawaiahao plaza,hoolako like,charter schools

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