Lighting the Sky in Kaunakakai

`Ohana night offers a night of books and laughter.

By Jennifer Smith

The night sky lit up last Thursday as Kaunakakai School families spent the evening Reading Under the Stars. The `ohana literacy night included dinner, entertainment, and loads of books and door prizes to take home.

“This evening is for the wonderful parents who work so hard throughout the year,” Parent Facilitator at the Parent Community Network Center Yvonne Friel said, “because they give so much.”

Well-known comedian Rodney Villanueva emceed the festivities. This is the third year the comedian has volunteered his time to participate in the program.

“I love kids,” Villaneuva said, explaining that he hopes he can give them a positive message, and have fun at the same time. He said he continues to come back because “this island is special to me, when you get off the plane, you just feel old Hawaii.”

The evening also featured Gail Omoto, Kaunakakai School graduate and published children’s book author. “I was honored to be asked,” Omoto said, explaining that she still gets nervous when presenting at her alma matter. Last year she read her first book, “Kai the `Opihi Gets the Point,” and this year she introduced her second book, “Mele the Crab Finds the Way Out.”

As a program director for Tutu & Me, Omoto is very familiar with the importance of educational materials that help children 0-5 learn. Promoting positive values through rhyme in her books, Omoto said, “I found out if I can do it anyone can.”

Over 100 parents attended the event, and 15 staff members volunteered their time to ensure the night was a success.

Principal Janice Espiritu took a break from helping prepare the spaghetti dinner to thank Yvonne Friel, her generous staff and kitchen crew, and all of the families for attending the event. 

Reading Under the Stars is made possible with the help of a Hawaiian native education grant, and fundraising from the Parent-Teacher Organization and Molokai Community Service Council. A big mahalo also went out to Snack-N-Go for their generous donations.


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