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Long Live `Olelo Hawai`i

Hawaiian immersion preschool thanks community.

The day was filled with keiki, dancing, ono food, and `olelo Hawai`i (Hawaiian language). Hundreds packed the yard of Lanikeha last Saturday, entertained by hula, Hawaiian songs, cooking demonstrations and local bands. It was Ho`omau, meaning ‘to continue,’ showcasing the Hawaiian language and culture to the community that it teaches the kids of Punana Leo o Molokai preschool.

“It’s a known fact that babies, especially two, three, four, are like sponges,” said Loke Han, director of Punana Leo. “They learn quickly and they retain a lot. If we can embed the language in them at an early age, it’s not such a chore [later].”

Different groups, from homestead associations to local crafters, joined Punana Leo in their 17th annual community celebration. The middle school had students performing songs and hula; Kula Kaiapuni Kualapu`u led their students in the Hawaiian version of the Hoki Poki, and Maui Community College handed out free sushi from their culinary program.

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