Molokai Celebrates Education and Local Resources

Kamehameha Schools hosts community event.

Girls of the Kamehameha Schools Hawaiian Ensemble enthrall their Molokai audience with a flourish of color and grace.

By Catherine Cluett

Saturday night, 7 p.m., Kulana O`iwi: a crowd sits on the edges of their chairs, cameras posed, enthralled by the beat of bass, the swish of full, bright skirts, and the rattle of ‘uli ‘uli. It’s the grand finale of an evening of good food, music, hula, and education hosted by Kamehameha Schools. Voices of the Hawaiian Ensemble are raised in singing traditional chants, their feet moving in time, tracing the steps of their ancestors.

The Hawaiian Ensemble is a group comprised of 50 Kamehameha Schools students whose purpose is “community and school service through Hawaiian culture,” says group director Kaleo Trinidad. The ensemble includes Molokai students Kupono Kawa`a and Koal Apuna, both from Ho’olehua.

The Hawaiian Ensemble was not the only entertainment enjoyed by celebration-goers. The evening’s event, E Kui A Lima Molokai, highlighted local educational and cultural resources, along with many Molokai musicians, dancers, and keiki. Other performances included music by the Kamakani Trio, a group featuring Kamakani Kiaha on guitar, Manuwai Peters on ukulele, and Curtis Crabbe on upright bass.

Dinner for the event was provided by Leonahe’s Ono Grindz, a catering company recently started in the Kaunakakai area. Community members honored kupuna by serving them first before standing in line for their own food.

The purpose of hosting E Kui A Lima Molokai, explains Kamehameha Schools Vice President of Community Relations and Communications Ann Botticelli, is to provide the community an opportunity to see what resources are available. This is the first time Kamehameha has hosted such an event on Molokai.

“We visit all of the communities we serve,” says Dee Jay Mailer, CEO of Kamehameha Schools. “We want to thank the communities and highlight the programs and organizations that exist there.”

A large part of the Kamehameha Schools’ program involves collaborating with community educational organizations for both adults and children and providing them with funding and support. Last year, $70 million of the $250 million budget of the school went toward their community strategic education plan.

Booths surrounded the courtyard of Kulana O`iwi, showing off a variety of organizations, from early childhood education such as the Tutu and Me program, to groups aimed at adult cultural and environmental awareness such as The Nature Conservancy. Some, but not all, represented members of Kamehameha Schools’ collaborative community programs.

Captain Clayton Ching, a Molokai resident and 1965 graduate of Kamehameha Schools, says a lot of who he is today is because of Kamehameha. He adds that some of the best students at the school are from Molokai because of the values and cultural education Molokai keiki receive.

Kamehameha Schools is a statewide private education opportunity supported by a trust endowed by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. Its mission, explains Vice President for Campus Strategies Rodney Chamberlain, is to improve the capability and wellbeing of native Hawaiians through education. Kamehameha Schools has three campuses — Hawai’i, Kapalama, and Maui — which provide kindergarten through 12th grade education to students of Hawaiian decent. The Kapalama campus offers a boarding option for students from seventh through 12th grade from other islands. Over 5,000 students are enrolled statewide. For more information about Kamehameha Schools, visit or call (808) 523-6200.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.