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Lā Pilina is a senior legacy project from Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi senior Kaluhikaua Kaʻapana. She designed an event to help build stronger relationships between two Native Hawaiian schools.Preschool students from Pūnana Leo o Hilo were invited to the KS Hawaiʻi campus to experience a curriculum designed and executed by students in the ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi 5 program at KSH.The event recognizes the importance of integrating Hawaiian language and culture into our education and how building a relationship between a Hawaiian immersion school and a Native Hawaiian school is beneficial to learning of the haumāna in both schools.

Senior legacy projects help students prepare for college and career success

Dec. 21, 2015

Contributed by Shaundor Chillingworth

A Senior Legacy project is a graduation requirement for all seniors at Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i.

The projects provide students an opportunity to give back to their community through service learning projects or by applying academic knowledge and critical thinking skills to address genuine community needs.

For the second year in a row, students have had an opportunity to showcase their projects to the school and surrounding community via a Senior Project Expo event, which last year was held on campus in December.

The expo is a chance for underclassmen, ‘ohana and interested community members to learn more about the projects that have been developed or are being planned, and the impact each one has on the surrounding community.

“The Senior Expo is as much a showcase as it is a celebration of the hard work, dedication and time that the students have put into their work,” said Clint Anderson, KS Hawai‘i’s dean of studies.

Anderson said the projects are indicative of the knowledge students gained not only at school, but also at home through their ‘ohana.

KS Hawai‘i High School currently features two academies – Humanities and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). Within those two academies, there are eight identified pathways.

Student projects are developed in areas that align with academy pathways:

  • Business and Leadership
  • Construction
  • Engineering and Design
  • Health Services
  • Human Services
  • Performing Arts
  • Science and Natural Resources
  • Visual Arts

The types of projects that students undertake vary tremendously.

There are one-time research projects as well as annual events which are passed on from a graduating student to an underclassman, the event growing in scale and scope each year.

Students can also invite community members to take part in the event or research that they’re planning to undertake.

Recent projects from the Health Services pathway have raised funds for the Pauahi Foundation to help fund postsecondary scholarships.

In 2013, Bree Kaneakua KSH’13 launched the “Walk for Pauahi” event, which invited the community to take part in a healthy event and asked for a modest entry fee, which was donated to the Pauahi Foundation.

Future iterations would build upon the event, incorporating additional health components.

This year, Ryan Witthans KSH’16, who participates in the Business and Leadership pathway, will add on to the event by adding on a more competitive “5K Run for Pauahi,” with proceeds continuing to benefit the Foundation.

The event will take place on March 26, 2016.

Witthans said he believes by adding on this component, he’ll be able to attract a thriving running community, bringing more participation which will benefit the Foundation.

Visual Arts pathway students Trenton Kuamo‘o KSK’16 and Ethan Macanas KSK’16 coded and designed a Hawaiian video game based on the life of Kamehameha I. In doing so, they created an immersive, virtual experience for users.

Human Services pathway student Kaluhikaua Ka‘apana KSK’16 shared her plans for a ‘Aha Pūnana Leo Lā Pilina, an event that will enable preschoolers to learn from ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian language) level five students at KS Hawai‘i.

An aspiring immersion teacher, Ka‘apana showed how her project not only provides a great learning ground for her future aspirations, but how it also serves Kamehameha’s larger Native Hawaiian identity goals as stated in its SP2020 document.

“What I have learned so far from doing my senior project is the importance of integrating Hawaiian language and culture into our education, and how building a relationship between a Hawaiian immersion school and Native Hawaiian school is beneficial to the education of the haumāna in both schools,” Ka‘apana said.

The lessons learned through the senior projects serve a larger purpose than being just a graduation requirement.

Business and Leadership pathway student Luke Taniguchi KSK’16 described how students experience leadership roles through their work, whether that be producing a newsletter, leading students on a trip to experience Makahiki in Waimea or organizing a new school dance.

“We focus on taking our own projects and filling that leadership role, making our deadlines and everything else that you need to follow as a part of that role,” Taniguchi said.

By culminating their high school experience in a project-based learning exercise, students develop these valuable independent learning skills that will help them as they take their next step onto college and career success.

The Senior Expo invites underclassmen, parents and community members to walk around and learn more about each senior’s legacy project, the research they’ve conducted or what they plan to do to complete it.

KSH senior Kaluhikaua Ka‘apana’s senior project is focused on developing a curriculum for a Hawaiian culture-based learning activity day for ‘Aha Pūnana Leo preschool students

Senior Mikaila Braun organized her class and taught them a hula which was performed at the schools' annual ʻAha Makahiki.

Business and Leadership pathway student Luke Taniguchi explains how students gain experience in leadership roles through their work.

Senior class president Zoe Azevedo shares information about her Seniors to Seniors project organized with the LifeCare center.

Ryan Witthans KSH’16 presents his Senior Legacy Project – The Run for Pauahi 5K race on March 26, 2016.

Performing Arts pathway students present their works from a radio station to a special KS Got Talent night in the Spring.

The Senior Expo was in its second year and invites the entire community to Koaiʻa Gym for one night to learn more about how students are giving back.

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