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KS Maui Chorus/‘Ukulele/Piano Kumu Kawika Boro KSM’09 credits retired high school Music Kumu Dale Nitta with putting him on the path to pursuing a career in music education. More photos below.

KS alumni staffers honor their most influential kumu

May 4, 2021

Contributed by Nadine Lagaso

In celebration of National Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked Kamehameha Schools alumni who have returned to KS to serve Ke Ali‘i Pauahi: “Who was your most influential kumu and why?” This story is dedicated all of our educators – past and present – who have made indelible impressions on Pauahi’s children, shaping them into incredible ‘ōiwi leaders. Mahalo nui loa for all that you do!

Kawika Boro KSM’09 – KS Maui Chorus/‘Ukulele/Piano Kumu, honors:
Dale Nitta – Retired KS Maui High School Music Kumu

"Mr. Nitta was the most influential Kumu I encountered at Kamehameha Schools Maui. Music had always been extremely important to me but Mr. Nitta helped to inspire and encourage me to pursue music education as my career path. Participating and performing in Select Chorus, Nā Mele, and Hawaiʻi All-State Honor Choir are a huge reason why my passion and love for choral music blossomed.

“During my sophomore year at KS Maui, I not only decided that I wanted to become a choral director, but that I wanted to become the ‘next Mr. Nitta.’ It has been such an honor and blessing to return to KS Maui as the high school choral director; quite literally a dream come true. I owe a lot to Mr. Nitta and undoubtedly would not be the Kumu I am today without his guidance.”

Jessie Coney KSH’15 – KS Marketing Specialist honors:
Kerry Kamisato – Retired KS Hawai‘i Middle School Technology Kumu

“As a KS Hawaiʻi lifer I have been blessed to have great kumu during every step of my educational journey. While all the kumu who have come into my life have made an impact in one way or another, there is one kumu that stands out for inspiring me the most. Kerry Kamisato, better known as Mr. K, was my eighth-grade technology teacher. His teaching inspired me to pursue my love of art and design through technology. Mr. K’s class consisted of Adobe basics, photography, and everything in-between. I vividly remember sitting in the seat closest to the front of the classroom, always eager to learn.

“What made Mr. K an exceptional kumu was his ability to recognize my love of technology and my desire to learn. He provided me with additional opportunities to explore technology outside of the classroom, like taking photographs during May Day and controlling the video switchboard at the kula haʻahaʻa Christmas concert. Mr. K always offered me these unique opportunities to learn more which allowed me to realize what I wanted to be when I grew up.

“As I moved from middle to high school, the looming question of my career path after graduation did not seem daunting. I knew that whatever career I chose needed to involve creativity through a technology medium. It has been many years since my eighth-grade tech class, yet I am still appreciative of Mr. K for inspiring and showing me my passion for technology, art, and design.”

Kaylee Razo KSM'09 – KS Maui Class of 2024 Dean of Students, honors:
Phyllis Sone – Retired KS Maui HS Computer Technology Kumu

“My most influential Kumu was Mrs. Phyllis Sone. While in high school I decided to join the Information Technology Academy. This academy was known to be popular with our kāne students, so I was one of the few wāhine in most of my classes. Mrs. Sone made sure I knew the importance of women in technology and how important it is that we as wāhine were represented. I didn’t really know if I wanted to go into technology for my career choice but her constant encouragement during those tough courses helped!

“Up until I was a junior in high school I had always thought I wanted to be a teacher. When speaking with Mrs. Sone I let her know that. However, upon further inquiry into my personality and values with her it showed me a new possibility of human services with the population of young adults and teenagers. She changed the direction of my future by showing me other opportunities that I hadn’t ever thought of. I ultimately went to my dream school – Chaminade University of Honolulu – and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in behavioral science and a Master of Arts degree in business administration.

“Almost a decade later I was able to work with Mrs. Sone as a colleague and that constant encouragement never ceased. When I had a challenge and needed someone to talk it through, she was right there. It is amazing how things have come full circle!

“Thank you, Mrs. Sone!”

Kayla Gaspar-Takahashi KSK’15 – Admin. Asst., KSK Office of the Po‘o Kula honors:
Auliʻi Hirahara – KS Kapālama English/‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i Kumu

“As a Kamehameha student, I was determined to create a strong, indigenous, Hawaiian identity for myself. With the many factors involved, it was my kuleana to seek a foundational figure to guide me through my high school years. That person was Kumu Auliʻi Hirahara.

“With two hats on, Kumu Auliʻi taught standard English and Hawaiian English. She was an inspiration to me, one – because she is a mana wahine who can teach two things at once, and two – she showcased her kanaka Hawai’i through what Pauahi wanted for her Native Hawaiian keiki – education. Kumu Auliʻi always showed compassion and understanding for all her students, and inspired us to excel individually and as a papa (class), to thrive.

“Not only did she serve as a foundation for education, but in extracurricular activities as well. Being an athlete, trying to juggle schoolwork and a social life, recognition outside of the classroom felt rewarding as a student. Kumu Auliʻi came to my ILH wrestling championship 1st place match as a senior. With my family and friends cheering me on, she completed the circle of ‘ohana support. The importance of support gave me the motivation and determination to uphold a strong Native Hawaiian identity.

“As one last kuleana, it was only pono to have Kumu Auliʻi tie my kīhei at graduation. That moment of graduating and having the most influential kumu be a part of my send-off to the real world, will never be forgotten. Until this day, we can still kākoʻo each other in contributing to a strong Hawaiian community.”

Maui Bartlett KSM’12 – KS Network Engagement Solutions Engineer, honors:
Kalei ʻAʻarona-Lorenzo KSK'85 – KS Maui Hawaiian Literature and Performance Kumu

ʻO Kumu Kalei ʻAʻarona-Lorenzo kaʻu kumu e mahalo nui aku ai i kēia Lā Mahalo Kumu. Nāna nō i waele i ke ala i mea e ʻauamo pono ai mākou poʻe haumāna i ke kuleana ʻo ka mālama i ka ʻōlelo a me ka moʻomeheu Hawaiʻi o kākou. Akamai nō ʻo ia ala ma ke aʻo ʻana i kāna poʻe haumāna, a ʻoluʻolu nō hoʻi kona ʻano. ʻImi mau aku ʻo ia i ke ala kūpono e ʻapo koke ai kēlā me kēia haumāna i ke mele, ke oli, a me ka moʻolelo kuʻuna.

No kona aʻo maikaʻi ʻana mai, ua mākaukau au i ka hīmeni ʻana i nā mele haipule i koʻu kipa ʻana aku me ka poʻe Niʻihau ma Kekaha, Kauaʻi. Na ia ala hoʻi au i aʻo mai i kekahi mau mea kikoʻī o ka haku mele, a nui koʻu mahalo i kāna hoʻīli mai ia mau mea. Ua hoʻoulu maikaʻi ʻo ia i ke aloha no nā mele, nā moʻolelo, a me nā leo aloha o ko kākou poʻe kūpuna i loko o koʻu naʻau.


Kumu Kalei ʻAʻarona-Lorenzo is the kumu I would like to express my deepest appreciation for on this Teacher Appreciation Day. It was she who cleared a path on which we, her students, could carry the kuleana of caring for our Hawaiian language and culture. She teaches her students with skill and kindness. She is always striving to find the best way for each student to grasp the intricacies of mele, oli, and traditional moʻolelo.

Because she prepared me well, I was able to sing hymns with the poʻe Niʻihau when I visited with them at Kekaha, Kauaʻi. It was also her that taught me some specific techniques of songwriting. I have so much appreciation for her passing on these things to us. She carefully cultivated a love of mele, moʻolelo and the beloved voice of our kūpuna within my heart.

This mele is my expression of aloha for you, Kumu Kalei.

He aloha nō ʻo Kaleialoha
Beloved is Kaleialoha

Lamakū aʻo Kamehameha
Torch of Kamehameha

ʻAʻā mau ke aloha ʻāina
With aloha ʻāina burning ever

I loko o ka puʻuwai
Within her heart

A uka ʻo ʻAʻapueo
There in the uplands, at ʻAʻapueo

Kūpinaʻi leo a ke kula
A voice resounds over the kula

He leo kono hoʻi a ke aloha
A welcoming voice of aloha

Haliʻa ke aloha ke lohe ʻia
That brings fond memories when heard

Ulu hiehie pua o ka ʻāina
The flowers of the land grow beautifully

I ka ua Lilinoe o ia uka
in the fine, misty rain of the mountain

E ō mai ʻoe i kou inoa
Answer to your name

Ka lei aloha palena ʻole
Lei of boundless aloha

In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Day, Kamehameha Schools leaders shared messages of heartfelt gratitude with kumu, for what they do today and every day in this video, "Mahalo e nā kumu!"

KS Marketing Specialist Jessie Coney KSH’15 thanks retired KS Hawai‘i Middle School Technology Kumu Kerry Kamisato for fueling her passion for technology, art and design.

KS Maui Class of 2024 Dean of Students Kaylee Razo KSM'09 credits her Computer Technology Kumu Phyllis Sone with putting her on a career path focused on guiding young adults and teenagers. Nearly a decade after her graduation from KSM, Razo had the opportunity to work with Sone as a colleague and says that her encouragement never ceased.

KS Kapālama Administrative Assistant Kayla Gaspar-Takahashi KSK’15 calls English/‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i Kumu Auliʻi Hirahara a mana wahine who instilled in her the motivation and determination to uphold a strong Hawaiian identity.

KS Network Engagement Solutions Engineer Maui Bartlett honors his most influential kumu Kalei ʻAʻarona-Lorenzo – KS Maui Hawaiian Literature and Performance Kumu – in ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i and shares his sentiments in a mele aloha.

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