Hemo Kula 2008

Immersion Program invites ohana to celebrate graduates.

Culture came alive last Friday as 'O Hina i ka Malama, the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program at Molokai High School celebrated its fourth Hemo Kula ceremony. The program held at Lanikeha Community Center was conducted entirely in the Hawaiian language by student emcees, 11th graders Ku'uipo Lenwai and Uaia Napoleon.

After 13 years in the Department of Education's Hawaiian Language Immersion Program, Kawai Pua'a-Spencer, Keli`ikuli Peters, Kainalu Purdy, Ku'uleialoha Kahana-Kalua, Ho'ikeana Sibayan, and Pua`oi Dawson were conferred honors that signified the completion of their Hawaiian medium education.

The students were presented with their kihei, lei hulu, and lei po'o during the 'Aha Ho'omoloa- the highlight of their hemo kula where students demonstrate mastery of the Hawaiian language through recitation of their genealogies. “The lei and Kihei is our Hawaiian diploma,” kumu Manuwai Peters said.

The kihei were tied onto the students by their kumu as in the past, but the kihei this year were noticeably different. Instead of using the traditional kapala 'ohe, or bamboo stamping, students used traditional kapa motifs through a batik process of painting and dyeing. 

The "neo-kihei" were visually stunning to the eye and each symbol and hue of color represented the individual student. All students contained three identical motifs; waves, mountains, and the glow of the sun.

The ho'okupu portion of the program has grown since the first 'O Hina I ka Malama hemo kula in 2005. Family and well wishers were invited to present "gifts of inspiration" to the conferees. 

This year's ho'okupu was especially moving as family and former classmates rose to present musical and spoken words to the six graduates. Solomon Kalua presented an aloha chant to his nephew Ku'uleialoha Kahana-Kalua; Aunty Betty Pua'a sang "E Ku'u Sweet Lei Poina 'Ole- My Unforgettable Lei" to her grandson Kawai Pua'a-Spencer; Waipa Purdy and Bruddah Roy Horner grabbed their ukulele and crooned, "He Hawaii Au," (I am Hawaiian), to grandson Kainalu Purdy.  2006 'O Hina I ka Malama graduate Keli'iokalani Sibayan rose to congratulate his sister, Ho'ikeana Sibayan on this special day.

A highlight of the ho'okupu portion was a musical tribute by 'O Hina I ka Malama graduates from the Class of 2005, 2006, and 2007. All ho'okupu elicited heart felt tears from both givers and receivers. 

The closing ho'okupu was actually offered by the six graduates of class of 2008 as they presented an oli, a name song for 'O Hina I ka Malama to the guests. Led by Aunty Cammy Napoleon, the seniors composed this special gift for their teachers and classmates.

"We were totally blown away by this special gift. None of us knew that they were working on an oli to give back to the school,” kumu Peters said, upon hearing the oli, 'O Hina I ka Malama. “We are happy to receive it and we want to learn it before the school year is over.”

“An oli like this is long over due as we actually do not have our own name chant for our program. Mahalo!" kumu Peters said.

The six 2008 graduates join 28 earlier graduates of Molokai High School's Hawaiian Language Immersion Program 'O Hina I ka Malama.


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