Big Island Police Searching for Missing 15-Year-Old Pepe’ekeo Girl

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 15-year-old Pepeʻekeo girl who was reported missing.

Shaniyah Das-Laro

Shaniyah Das-Laro

Shaniyah Das-Laro was last seen in Pepeʻekeo on Saturday (April 12). She is described as 5-foot-1, 100 pounds with brown eyes and black hair.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call the Police department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Big Island Police Searching for Missing Girl for Third Time

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 17-year-old Hilo girl who was reported missing again.

Brianna Kehaulani Freitas-Jones

Brianna Kehaulani Freitas-Jones

Brianna Kehaulani Freitas-Jones was last seen in Hilo on March 21. She is described as Caucasian, 5-foot-7, 130 pounds with green eyes and brown hair.

Police ask that anyone with information on her whereabouts call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

(Edit – This is the third time this girl has gone missing recently)

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Winners for 3rd Annual Hawaii Charter School Awards Announced

Hawaii Public Charter School Network (HPCSN) will honor charter schools and leaders at the 2013-2014 Hawaii Charter Schools Awards, taking place Thursday, May 15, 2014 at the Pomaikai Ballrooms at Dole Cannery from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Hawaii Public Charter Schools NetworkToday, HPCSN announced a list of honorees, including:

  •  HPCSN Legislators of the Year – Senator Jill Tokuda and Representative Ken Ito
  • HCPSN Community Partner of the Year -Karen Street, First Insurance Company of Hawaii
  • Charter School of the Year – Na Wai Ola Waters of Life Public Charter School, Mountain View, Hawaii
  • Most Improved Charter School – Kamaile Academy Public Charter School, Waianae, Oahu
  • Creating New Best Practices – Kona Pacific Public Charter School, Kealakekua, Hawaii and Ke Kula o Nawahiokalaniopuu Iki Lab Public Charter School, Keaau, Hawaii

“Our theme is ‘Creating New Best Practices for Public Education in Hawaii,” and it’s only fitting that we’ll recognize charter schools and leaders who are charting paths in new and innovative ways and, in doing so, showing measured success in public charter schools across the state,” said Lynn Finnegan, Executive Director of the Hawaii Public Charter Schools Network.

“Through HPCSN, these schools have an opportunity to share their best practices with fellow schools and help further develop the successes that these unique schools have on the thousands of children they teach each day,” Finnegan added.

Nominations for three additional awards (Charter School Governing Board Member of the Year, Charter School Leader of the Year and Charter School Teacher of the Year) are being accepted by HPCSN through Thursday, April 24, 2014.

The dinner is open to the public and tickets can be purchased by phone at 808-380-6403 or online at 2014hawaiicharterschoolawards.eventbrite.com.

 

Victims Seek Two Investigations – Long Time Hawaii Predator Abused Several Foster Kids

SNAP: “Catholic Charities and state agency should take action”, They gave him “unfettered access to vulnerable boys,” group says.  One key individual won promotions & is now a supervisor at state bureaucracy

A support group for sex abuse victims is urging Catholic Charities and Hawaii state officials and to investigate how a predator was able to foster children.

VICE News today presents Love Serve Surrender. In the documentary, VICE News investigates alleged pedophile Jay Ram, who for decades has managed to foster, adopt, and care for dozens of boys referred by charities and child welfare agencies, despite repeated warning signs that he was a sexual predator.

VICE News presents Love Serve Surrender. In the documentary, VICE News investigates alleged pedophile Jay Ram, who for decades has managed to foster, adopt, and care for dozens of boys referred by charities and child welfare agencies, despite repeated warning signs that he was a sexual predator.

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are urging the two organizations to answer questions about how so many boys were placed in the care of Jay Ram. And investigate Roselyn Viernes, who is the head of East Hawaii Child Welfare Services in Hilo, and was the social worker responsible for placing the children in foster homes.

Ram, who is also known as Gary Winnick, is accused of sexually abusing boys that he fostered and adopted in California and Hawaii. He is believed to be the Tampa Florida area. A recent documentary chronicles Ram’s abuse. 

Ram is accused of molesting the boys and exploiting them and forcing them to do hard physical labor. The victims say that Ram threatened them, deprived them of food and refused to let them to engage in regular social activities with their peers out of fear that the boys would report to authorities. Although Ram has been investigated by the police in the past, the victims say that they were threatened with violence and more abuse to keep them quiet. The boys were abused between the ages of 8 and 17 during the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s.

SNAP is writing to the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services and Catholic Charities urging officials to do a complete, independent investigation of all placements and the approval processes that allowed dozens of boys to be placed with a predator.

“It is time for action. More than a dozen boys lived with Jay after the first abuse complaints were made known,” said Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, SNAP volunteer Western Regional Director.  “Most—if not all—of the boys were molested. How many other children were abused because Catholic Charities and CWS refused to listen to children who were being abused? Subsequent tragedies involving Jay and the boys could have been avoided completely.”

The letters from SNAP, sent today by fax and email, are pasted below.

Letter 1:

Patricia McManaman
Director
State of Hawaii Department of Human Services
P.O. Box 339, Honolulu, HI 96809-0339
Fax 808-586-4890
dhs@dhs.hawaii.gov

East Hawaii Child Welfare Services
75 Aupuni Street Hilo, HI 96720
Fax: (808) 933-0693

Dear Ms. McManaman

We are members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPNetwork.org), the nation’s largest support group for men and women who have been sexually abused in religious and institutional settings.

We were disturbed and dismayed by the recent news documentary LOVE SERVE SURRENDER (http://youtu.be/v2sFheAc1rQ), which tells the story of Hilo-area rancher Jay Ram, who fostered, adopted, and sexually abused more than two dozen boys on the Big Island.

What is even more upsetting is to learn that high-ranking state social worker Roselyn Viernes has had knowledge of suspicions and complaints against Ram for decades. She is currently working in your East Hawai’i Central offices. According to the news story and corresponding documents, there are records of at least two allegations of abuse against Ram in 1989. Despite this, Viernes continued to place boys in his care. The documents can be viewed here: https://news.vice.com/articles/an-alleged-pedophiles-perfect-scam?trk_source=homepage-feature

It is time for action. State social workers who ignore abuse complaints and put more children as risk must be held accountable. More than a dozen boys lived with Jay after the first abuse complaints crossed Viernes’ desk. Most—if not all—of the boys were molested. How many other children were abused because Ms. Viernes refused to do the right thing? Subsequent tragedies involving Jay and the boys could have been avoided completely.

We ask that you do the following:

–Do a complete investigation of all of Ms. Viernes’ placements and the approval processes that allowed dozens of boys to be placed with a predator,
–Immediately remove Viernes from her position until the investigation is complete,
–Reach out to all boys placed in Ram’s care and let them know they have criminal and civil rights and that help is available.

Your offices may even house the evidence necessary to help criminally prosecute Jay and help his victims get the accountability they deserve.

Hawaii’s most vulnerable kids deserve far better than being placed in foster homes with sex predators.

Mahalo,

Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, CA, SNAP Western Regional Director (949) 322-7434, jcasteix@gmail.com
Barb Dorris of St. Louis, MO, SNAP Outreach Director, (314) 503-0003, snapdorris@gmail.com

Letter 2:

Jerry Rauckhorst
President & Chief Executive Officer
Catholic Charities Hawai‘i
Clarence T. C. Ching Campus
1822 Ke‘eaumoku Street
Honolulu, HI 96822
info@catholiccharitieshawaii.org
jrauckhorst@catholiccharitieshawaii.org
(808) 599-8761 Fax

Catholic Charities
Hilo Office
62 Kinoole Street
Hilo, HI 96720
Fax: (808) 961-7059

Dear Mr. Rauckhorst:

We are members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPNetwork.org), the nation’s largest support group for men and women who have been sexually abused in religious and institutional settings.

We were disturbed and dismayed by the recent news documentary LOVE SERVE SURRENDER (http://youtu.be/v2sFheAc1rQ), which tells the story of Hilo-area rancher Jay Ram, who fostered and adopted—and then sexually abused—more than two dozen boys on the Big Island.

What is even more upsetting is to learn that Catholic Charities had a role in this abuse. According to the news story and corresponding documents, there are records of at least two allegations of abuse against Ram in 1989. Despite this, Catholic Charities, in partnership with Child Welfare Services, placed boys in Ram’s care and allowed other boys to remain with Ram. The documents can be viewed here: https://news.vice.com/articles/an-alleged-pedophiles-perfect-scam?trk_source=homepage-feature

It is time for action. More than a dozen boys lived with Jay after the first abuse complaints were made known. Most—if not all—of the boys were molested. How many other children were abused because Catholic Charities and CWS refused to listen to children who were being abused? Subsequent tragedies involving Jay and the boys could have been avoided completely.

We ask that you do the following:

–Do a complete investigation of all of Catholic Charities’ placements and the approval processes that allowed dozens of boys to be placed with a predator,
–Reach out to all boys placed in Ram’s care and let them know they have criminal and civil rights and that help is available.

Your offices may even house the evidence necessary to help criminally prosecute Jay and help his victims get the accountability they deserve.

Hawaii’s most vulnerable kids deserve far better than being placed in foster homes with sex predators.

Mahalo,

 

Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, CA, SNAP Western Regional Director (949) 322-7434, jcasteix@gmail.com
Barb Dorris of St. Louis, MO, SNAP Outreach Director, (314) 503-0003, snapdorris@gmail.com

Department of Education Announces 2014 Graduation Dates

The Hawaii State Department of Education is announcing its 2014 graduation dates for more than 60 schools, including public high schools and charter schools. In all, there will be approximately 11,000 students graduating from public schools this year.

Graduation dates begin in late May with the ceremonies for Pahoa on Hawaii Island on Sunday, May 18.

graduation

Click to view dates

Hawaii, Mexico Students Explore Volcano in Virtual Field Trip

Clad in their fiery red uniforms, Keaau Elementary students stand at the edge of Kilauea Volcano and lead a chant in honor of the goddess Pele as they prepare to hike down the Big Island crater. Across the Pacific Ocean, students from Peterson Schools in Mexico City rise in their classroom, reciting the same Hawaiian words as they watch steam billow from the crater’s vents and listen to the gusty trade winds through a live video feed.

Dr. John Bailey with Keeau Elemantary students at the crater rim.

Dr. John Bailey with Keeau Elemantary students at the crater rim.

Dozens of public school students took part in a virtual field trip on Monday to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the latest example of how the Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is using technology to innovate and expand learning opportunities at home and abroad.

Virtual ClassChildren from Nanakuli Elementary’s Immersion program (Ke Kula Kaiapuni o Nanakuli), Hale Kula Elementary and University Laboratory School also experienced the sights and sounds of Kilauea volcano, thanks to Keaau students and staff who wore Google Glass to broadcast their excursion online. The public and more than 50 educators worldwide were able to engage in the field trip, which was in part recorded from the students’-eye view via the “Grab & Go Glassroom” – a wired pack projecting a feed from the students’ Google Glass view into a livestream.

Virtual Class3

The DOE’s own digital curriculum program, known as Access Learning, has allowed eight pilot schools – including Keaau and Nanakuli – to explore exciting lessons that go beyond textbooks and classroom walls by equipping students with laptops and training teachers on the latest educational tools.

In February, for example, University Laboratory students live streamed their field trip to Honolulu Zoo to the laptops of Keaau Elementary students. Children from both schools partnered to produce videos and other projects about birds they saw at the zoo.

On Monday, Keaau students returned the favor by bringing other students along as they kicked off their volcano adventure by meeting with Matt Patrick, a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey at the Hawaii Volcano Observatory.

Hawaii and Mexico students quickly peppered Patrick with questions: “How do you know when volcanoes will erupt?” “What do you have to study to become a volcanologist?,” and “What’s the speed of lava?”

Students virtually joined their Keaau classmates on a bus ride to the volcano, then performed a chant together before watching their descent into the crater.

During a question-and-answer period, a Peterson Schools student remarked the experience “was awesome” because it allowed him to “see the things that we don’t have here in Mexico.”
Virtual Class2
University Laboratory teacher Marybeth Baldwin said students use Google applications to do homework, peer edit and collaborate on projects.  Her class will use the information from the volcano field trip to learn a new storytelling tool, called Tour Builder, which lets students create interactive maps of places around the world.

“They will take their own information, their pictures, links, and any text that they write, to build a map and – just like Google Earth – drop a pin with all the story they want to tell,” Baldwin said.

For more photos of today’s event, visit https://www.facebook.com/HIDepartmentofEducation.

Volcano School Of Arts and Sciences Receives $618,000 for Planning and Design of New Campus

The Office of the Governor has announced the release of $618,000 to the Volcano School of Arts and Sciences for the planning and design of their new campus in Volcano Village, Hawaii.

Volcano School

Volcano School of Arts and Sciences, a public charter school, was created by community members to educate and nurture the individual strengths and interests of each student. VSAS graduates have demonstrated exceptional success in high school and college. The construction of a new campus will ensure that the successful vision of VSAS will continue long into the future.

Senator Russell Ruderman stated, “I am extremely happy with the announcement of the release of Grant in Aid funds for the Volcano School of the Arts’ new campus and I fully support the new models to education that VSAS provides its students. Students deserve quality options in education and they are motivated by the kinds of challenges that charter schools like VSAS can provide. I am thrilled to support these innovators in education that are demonstrating what’s possible, and learning what works, to put our students in the best possible position to succeed.

The project supported by this funding will provide expanded and improved educational opportunities. This award will provide an exceptional learning environment for all keiki at Volcano School of Arts and Sciences. Additionally, this funding will assist in creating jobs for our district. Our office has worked diligently to ensure that this GIA request made its way through the process, and redoubled our efforts with the knowledge that these funds would be lapsing soon. Through the efforts of many people including C. Mike Kido, Legislative Advisor, Office of Governor Abercrombie and Leila Shar, Financial Performance Manager, State Public Charter School Commission, that request has come to fruition.”

“Run to Honor” – “Click It or Ticket” Keiki Fun Run

In recognition of Police Week, the Hawaiʻi Police Department and Crime Stoppers Hawaiʻi will hold a “Run To Honor” 5K Run/2 Mile Walk and “Click It or Ticket” Keiki Fun Run on Saturday, May 17, at Liliʻuokalani Gardens in Hilo.

HPDBadgeThe public is invited to participate to honor the memory of officers who gave the ultimate sacrifice and to promote crime prevention through the use of Crime Stoppers. This family event includes food, entertainment, informational and activity booths, prizes, a water slide and more.

Entry fee for the 5K Run/2 Mile Walk is $25 dollars and includes a T-shirt. The Keiki Fun Run is free and includes a T-shirt.

Deadline to register is Thursday, May 1. Entries received after the deadline cannot be guaranteed a T-shirt. Late entry fee is $30. Proceeds from this event will go to establish a Crime Stoppers/Police scholarship.

The 5K Run and 2 Mile Walk start at 8:30 a.m. with check-in and early registration from 7-8 a.m.

The Keiki Fun Run for ages 6-14 starts at 9:30 a.m. with check-in and early registration from 7-9:15 a.m.

If participants prefer, they may check in and pickup up a T-shirt and number between May 14 and May 16 from 1-3 p.m. at the Hilo police station at 349 Kapiʻolani Street.

Registration forms are available at police stations island wide and on the Police Department’s website at www.hawaiipolice.com.

For more information, you may call Community Policing Lieutenant Darren Horio at 961-2350 or email him at dhorio@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Stingrays Sting at HI-PAL Click It or Ticket Tournament

Seventy-eight youths from 10 teams participated in the HI-PAL Click It or Ticket 14 and Under Hoops Championships this past weekend, April 4-6, at Waiākea-Uka gym.

In the finals, Austin Ewing scored 13 points and Steven Texeira added 12 as Kona Stingrays ran past Hoop Dreams 53-28 to claim the championship. Keawe Silva led Hoop Dreams with 13 points.

The Kona Stingrays

The Kona Stingrays

Members of the championship team included Ewing, Texeira, Michael Hanohano, Kaanoi Kelekolio Rivers, Seth Mattos, Cherilyn Molina, Preston Morales and Mikayla Tablit.

The Stingrays, behind Ewing’s 12 points, defeated Kamehameha 43-34 to advance to the finals. Joseph Rivera scored 12 for Kamehameha. Hoop Dreams edged Hilo Spartans in double overtime 36-35 to also advance to the finals. Kiaʻi Apele led Hoop Dreams with 14 points and Makana Kanehailua added 11. Camren Statler-Ellamar scored 16 for the Spartans.

“This tournament is one of a series of events to promote seat belt use amongst youth and adults, and all participants and their parents pledge to use their seat belts,” said Community Policing Lieutenant Darren Horio. “Seat belts are the most effective safety feature ever invented for cars and they have helped saved thousands of lives. We ask all youth and adults to please use your seat belts to protect you in the unlikely event of a traffic crash and thank those that continue to use their seat belts.”

For additional information on any Click It or Ticket or HI-PAL event, please call Lieutenant Horio at 961-8121 or Officer Randy Morris at 326-4646 extension 258.

The Egg and I – Nake’u Awai’s Pre-Merrie Monarch Fundraiser

Springtime on Hawai‘i Island means Easter, Merrie Monarch, and Nake‘u Awai’s annual Fashion Show Fundraiser, happening Saturday, April 19, 2014 at the Kahilu Theatre. A benefit for the Theatre, the lively production features Awai’s iconic aloha designs, dozens and dozens of Easter Eggs, and beautiful songs that celebrate Waimea.

The Egg and I

Doors open at 11 a.m. to give guests a chance to shop for Awai’s signature aloha wear, rarely available away from his Honolulu studio. Handmade items by local crafters are also available for sale, as well as box lunches by Palani French Bakers to enjoy at tables on the lawn, before the show begins at 12:30 p.m.

A distinctive designer of island fashion for over thirty years, Nake‘u Awai is well-known for his unique prints and flattering silhouettes for every body size and shape. His annual spring productions have been described as part-Broadway, part runway—one-of-a-kind events that never fail to tell a story, using fashion, hula, history, music, both traditional and contemporary, and lots of surprises.

Models in Awai’s “company” include Pat Bergin, Kauanoe Chang, Sharon Goodman, Liana Aveiro, Aulii Kirsch, Margo Wray, Peter Souza, Wally Wong and other familiar faces. And, key performers from the community include John Wray, Alva Kamalani, Desiree Cruz, Everett Knowles and the Waimea Hawaiian Civic Club, who will present a medley of songs by Helen Desha Beamer.

“I always wanted to emphasize the music of Helen Desha Beamer, one of the Big Island’s best writers, who wrote the classic songs of Waimea,” said Awai. His production wraps the region’s paniolo heritage with songs from “Oklahoma,” with elements of spring, Easter stories like an island-style Peter Cottontail, and festive fashion for men and women. “We create the visual scene,” said Awai, “And the performers just happen to be wearing our fashions.”

In addition, Awai invites the community to enter a special Egg Decorating Contest, with prizes presented by the judges in several categories. There is no entry fee, and all are welcome to use their imagination.

Sweetest Egg – Big Island Candies
Best Waimea Egg – Native Books/ Na Mea Hawaii
Best Ka Lei Egg – Roen Hufford
Trippiest Egg – Nake‘u Awai (a “trippy” tee shirt, designed by Nake‘u )
Most Stylish Egg – Nake‘u Awai (a beautiful bear made from Nake‘u fabric in moire)

A very special and entertaining occasion on the Saturday before Easter, “The Egg and I” invites groups of friends join in, support the Theatre and celebrate Spring. Tickets $45 with box lunch, $30 show only. Please call 885-6868 or visit www.KahiluTheatre.org

Hawaii Teacher Survey Results Regarding Educator Effectiveness System

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) and the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) recently conducted a joint survey regarding the Educator Effectiveness System (EES), which was implemented statewide at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year. The purpose of the joint survey was to gather teacher feedback on their experiences and opinions regarding the EES to help better understand its strengths and identify areas for improvement.

DOE ReleaseFunded by the Castle Foundation and conducted by Ward Research Inc., the online survey was sent to the HSTA’s 13,500 teacher members, 4,280 (30%) of which completed the survey between the Feb. 25 and March 11 survey period. Respondents represented all districts and types of teachers. This level of response provides a maximum sampling error of only +/- 1.3 percent.

Results from the survey indicate varying degrees in understanding the EES and provide a good starting point in better identifying areas for improvement. Key survey findings include:

  • One in five respondents indicated high levels of understanding of the EES (18% rating ‘top three’ box or 8-10 where 10 = completely understand) while a comparable proportion indicated low levels of understanding of the EES (20% rating ‘bottom three’ box or 1-3 where 1 = do not understand at all)
  • Classroom Observations reflected the highest levels of reported understanding (36%) and the Hawaii Student Growth Model the lowest (12%)
  • One in five respondents indicated strong agreement (‘top three’ box or 8-10 rating where 10 = strongly agree) that they have applied the EES information towards improving their professional practice (18%), their instructional practice (18%), and toward improving student growth and learning (18%)
  • An emerging theme identified in the survey was providing teachers more time to prepare for the various requirements within the components, more guidance and clarity, and providing examples of successful stories by distinguished teachers.

“The Department of Education is actively engaged in an ongoing data review process that involves working with teachers, principals and other groups,” said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “The EES is intended to provide timely, actionable and professional feedback, and support to improve teacher practice and student outcomes. We’re grateful to the teachers and various groups who are ensuring that the system fairly assesses the effectiveness of educators. This survey will be used as part of a collective process to help better understand strengths and identify areas for improvement.”

“The HSTA’s goal is to make sure that every child in Hawaii has access to the best teachers in our public school system,” said Wil Okabe, HSTA president. “When we started this process, we agreed that the Joint Committee of DOE and HSTA representatives would gather data and feedback from our members in order to implement collaborative adjustments and improvements to the EES.”

“The joint survey reflected what we have been hearing from teachers. That the EES is a work in progress, and teachers feel that more needs to be done so that the EES can help improve the practice of teaching. Our teachers clearly expressed the need for more time to implement the EES, more guidance, and more clarity of the expectations and process,” said Okabe.

“We are committed to the EES and will continue to collaborate with the DOE to improve this system and develop a fair and effective resource that should be designed to, ultimately, improve our educational system for Hawaii’s students,” added Okabe.

The committee has met four times over the last nine months and provided areas of potential recommendations to Superintendent Matayoshi, including:

  • Improving support for implementation (e.g. training structure, educator engagement strategy)
  • Solutions for new teachers (e.g. personnel consequences for SY 13-14 first-year teachers, differentiating evaluation criteria for first and second year teachers)
  • Supporting structures for teachers based on EES feedback and results (e.g. searchable database for teachers to find quality professional development opportunities based on area of need)
  • Transitioning between student assessments (impact on student growth as the state shifts from the Hawaii State Assessments, to the bridge assessments, and Smarter Balanced Assessments)
  • Differentiating frequency of evaluation components within the annual evaluation cycle, based on the needs of teachers
  • Reviewing scoring methodology for the Tripod student perception survey
  • Monitoring the use of multiple measures.

The Joint Committee is one of several feedback groups the DOE relies upon for structured input about EES. Other groups include the Teacher Leader Workgroup and Technical Advisory Group and a newly established Principal Workgroup.

“The survey results reinforce priority issues that are being discussed by the Joint Committee and raise some additional concerns for further discussion,” noted Matayoshi. “Teachers, administrators and the HSTA are all involved in this process, and this is just the beginning.”

The DOE and HSTA are committed to working together to improve the EES and teacher feedback is an important part of the improvement process. Following the first full year of implementation, the DOE will make any design improvements necessary based on reviews of data and consideration of feedback from the field.

Video: County of Hawaii Proclaims “Max Unger Day” – HPA Retires Jersey

Deputy Director of Hawaii County Parks and Recreation Robert A. Fitzgerald proclaimed April 2, 2014 as Seattle Seahawk’s “Matt Unger Day” in the County of Hawaii.

HPA Retires Alumnus Max Unger's Number

HPA Retires Alumnus Max Unger’s Number

Fitzgerald also happens to be Unger’s former coach here on the Big Island.

Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA), the high school that Max attended, then retired his number from ever being used again by another player at the school.

Makua Lani Christian Academy to Buy Hualalai Academy Campus

Aloha kākou. A little over a month ago we sent you a message to let you know that Kamehameha Schools was looking into the possible purchase of the campus and buildings of Hualalai Academy, a small independent school in Kona that had announced in January that it would be ceasing operations at the end of this school year.

Hualalai Academy on the Big Island

Hualalai Academy on the Big Island

After conducting careful due diligence throughout the month of March, Kamehameha Schools has decided not to move forward with that acquisition. We extend our sincere mahalo to the staff and leaders at Hualalai Academy for their time and assistance as we conducted our due diligence; they have built and maintained a beautiful campus. We have committed to lend them as much assistance as we can to transition to their next potential buyer, Makua Lani Christian Academy.

“This decision does not change our commitment to serving the West Hawai‘i community with educational programs and support,” said Jack Wong, KS interim Chief Executive Officer. “We will continue to increase our emphasis on assisting and strengthening new and existing West Hawai‘i community educational capacity, resources and partnerships. Accordingly, we are pleased to see an established, quality educational program such as Makua Lani be positioned to grow into the Hualalai campus property, and we look forward to future discussions with them to explore possible learning partnership opportunities.”

Mahalo for your interest and support in this matter. We look forward to keeping you informed of other events and activities in West Hawai‘i in the weeks and months ahead.

Waiākeawaena Park Playground to Close During Equipment Replacement Project

Hilo’s Waiākeawaena Park playground will be closed for renovation from Monday, April 7, through early June. The project is a partnership between the Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation and the Hawai‘i State Department of Education (DOE) that will provide a safe, modern playground for both the community and Waiākeawaena Elementary School students to enjoy.

Mt. View's new Playground

Mt. View’s new Playground

The park’s ball fields and gymnasium will remain open and available for use during the construction phase, although the work will have a slight impact on part of the main ball field’s right field area.

The DOE has hired contractor Pacific Recreation Co. LLC to build a replacement playground designed for keiki 2 to 5 years old and an adjacent play area for children between the ages of 5 and 12. Features include multiple slides, covered decks, climbing walls and a safety surface. Waiākeawaena Elementary School, which is located next to the park, is providing two park benches that will be installed as part of the overall project estimated to cost approximately $220,000.

The Department of Parks and Recreation thanks state Sen. Gilbert Kahele for helping secure state funding needed to replace the aging playground, along with Mayor Billy Kenoi and Hawai‘i County Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi for their valuable support of this needed project.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 345-9105 or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Kamehameha Schools CEO Search Update

Aloha kākou:

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to share with you an update on our CEO search.

Dee Jay Mailer’s last day as CEO of Kamehameha Schools was Tuesday, April 1. As we announced earlier, Jack Wong, current Vice President of Legal Services and General Counsel, has assumed the role of interim CEO. Jack will serve in both roles until the next CEO assumes office. During the past few months, Jack has worked closely with Dee Jay and her staff to prepare for a smooth transition without unnecessary disruption to our work. This partnership has enabled the Board of Trustees to focus our full attention on a successful conclusion to the CEO search.

Jack has served Kamehameha Schools since 1997 in several key roles, initially as a Senior Counsel and most recently as Director of the Endowment Legal Division. He knows our people, our mission and the way we do things. Jack will focus on moving all of our key initiatives forward – on schedule – with the strong support of the executive leadership team he oversees.  We are all gratified that Jack has agreed to accept this critical role and we’re confident that he will provide continuity and strong leadership on an interim basis.

We continue to have conversations with a wide-range of outstanding leaders in our search for a new CEO, our commitment to selecting an individual of the highest caliber is unwavering, and we are grateful for the incredibly high quality of interest this opportunity has attracted. It is our expectation to have a new CEO identified before the end of the year. We will continue to provide updates throughout the search process. As always, if you have any questions or concerns about the process, please feel free to provide your thoughts at: KSCEO@spencerstuart.com.

This past week we all experienced the joys and memories that flood our senses as we bid a fond aloha to one of our most admired leaders. As Dee Jay transitions from being the CEO of Kamehameha Schools to begin her life’s next chapter, we are all enriched from her thoughtful guidance and leadership. She has nurtured us, and renewed us, and from here, we will continue to flourish.

And, now we begin the next chapter, dedicated to delivering the highest quality education and doing the good work that has always been the measure of Kamehameha Schools. Mahalo for your continued dedication and execution of our mission. The work you do every day is so valued, and we are very grateful.

As the Easter Season approaches we wish you and your families a happy and safe Easter. We are most appreciative of your continuing support of Kamehameha Schools.

Me ka ha‘a ha‘a,

Janeen-Ann A. Olds, Chairman
Board of Trustees

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Praises Hawaii’s Education Leadership

Hawaii’s public schools can be a model for the nation, according to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who visited two schools today before returning to Washington, D.C. Secretary Duncan, Governor Neil Abercrombie and Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi spoke with media in reflecting on the progress made during the last three years based on the Race to the Top (RTTT) federal education reform grant.

 Secretary Duncan with Keith Hayashi, Supt, Matayoshi, Gov. Abercrombie in Waipahu HS aquaponics lab


Secretary Duncan with Keith Hayashi, Supt, Matayoshi, Gov. Abercrombie in Waipahu HS aquaponics lab.

“When we first did the RTTT grant, there was a huge amount of skepticism in the outside world, and frankly, internally,” stated Secretary Duncan. “Hawaii initially had its challenges; they’ve shown amazing leadership, courage and vision. I can’t overstate how important the Governor’s leadership has been…the leadership of the State Superintendent…they are a profile in courage. The only way you get better is to challenge the status quo. The only way to accelerate the rate of change is to do something different. The progress has been extraordinary. Hawaii by any objective measure – is one of the fastest improving states in the nation – top five states, that’s top 10 percent in the nation.”

Ka Waihona student (newly accepted to Kamehameha) explains kalo to Secretary Duncan

Ka Waihona student (newly accepted to Kamehameha) explains kalo to Secretary Duncan

Secretary Duncan began the day at Ka Waihona o ka Naauao, a public charter school in Nanakuli, where he learned how to pound taro (paiai) and participated in a discussion about culture-based education with stakeholders and Kirin Ahuja, the U.S. DOE’s executive director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Secretary Duncan pounds kalo

Secretary Duncan pounds kalo

Secretary Duncan then visited Waipahu High where he participated in a Hawaii DOE and Hawaii State Teachers Association joint-committee meeting followed by a tour of the school with Gov. Abercrombie and Supt. Matayoshi.

Supt. Matayoshi and WHS students greet Secretary Duncan.

Supt. Matayoshi and WHS students greet Secretary Duncan.

Waipahu High is the second-largest high school in Hawaii with 2,450 students. About 70 percent of its students are of Filipino ancestry, while nearly 6 out of 10 students come from economically disadvantage backgrounds. Waipahu High Principal Keith Hayashi, who was appointed in 2009, has led a tremendous academic turnaround at the school. Reading proficiency among 10th graders rose to 69 percent in 2013 from 58 percent in 2011, while math proficiency jumped to 47 percent from 26 percent. College-going rate increased to 58 percent from 49 percent during the same period.

“We are proud to share the passion of what we do here at Waipahu with Secretary Duncan,” Principal Hayashi said.

Secretary Duncan with Andrea Gurado, WHS student with full ride to Columbia University, looking at her science project exploring synthesizing molecules.

Secretary Duncan with Andrea Gurado, WHS student with full ride to Columbia University, looking at her science project exploring synthesizing molecules.

One of the students who enjoyed lunch with Secretary Duncan at Waipahu was Andrea Jurado, who recently accepted a full scholarship from Columbia University. She arrived to the islands just four years ago from her native Philippines, and since then, she has taken advantage of opportunities that have helped her excel during her four years at Waipahu. She’s participated in internships with the University of Hawaii Cancer Research Center and the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories in Livermore, Calif. She will also represent Hawaii at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, Calif., which is the largest science and engineering fair for high school students from around the globe.

“Waipahu is very focused on students succeeding in post-secondary life,” said Supt. Matayoshi. “The school has a great early college program, and great opportunities for students to succeed. We’re very happy that Secretary Duncan can see the fantastic work being done here by our faculty, teachers, and students.”

“I ask anybody in the state, before you make a judgment about the public schools, see what’s been accomplished in the last three years. By any outside observation, Hawaii public schools are rising, and we’re going to keep on rising,” added Governor Abercrombie.

Principal Sheena Alaiasa of Castle High in Kaneohe was one of the educators selected to meet with Secretary Duncan during his visit. As head of King Intermediate last year, Alaiasa was named the 2014 National Middle Level Principal of the Year by MetLife and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

“It’s great for Hawaii as a whole for the U.S. DOE to see what we’re doing,” said Principal Alaiasa. “It means a lot to our students for them to meet and greet someone of such importance.”

Hawaii is the 50th and final state to welcome Secretary Duncan during his tenure. Prior to this visit, the last U.S. education secretary to visit the islands was Richard W. Riley in 1994 under President Bill Clinton. The last federal education official to visit Hawaii was Martha Kanter, U.S. Department of Education under secretary of education, who spoke at a September 2010 higher education summit in Waikiki. Also, in December 2009, Peter Cunningham, assistant secretary for communications and outreach for the U.S. Department of Education, visited several island schools.

Hawaii Wildlife Fund and State Team Up to Clean Manukā Natural Area Reserve (NAR)

Saturday marked the fifth year that Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund (HWF) has teamed up with the State’s Natural Area Reserve crew to clean up a stretch of coastline within the Manukā Natural Area Reserve (NAR), which extends from Ka‘ū into South Kona.  During this time, over 130 people have helped haul over 2,975 pounds of marine debris and shoreline rubbish off this remote stretch of coastline that extends from Humuhumu Pt. to the north.

Group photo at the end of a long, successful, cleanup day!

Group photo at the end of a long, successful, cleanup day!

This weekend was no different.  After driving over very rough roads and hiking over a mile each way, the 30 cleanup participants hauled 26 bags of debris (weighing ~430 lbs.) off the isolated shoreline.  Volunteers came from Hilo, Kona, Puna and Kaʻū and worked for hours on this collective mission to mālama ke kahakai (take care of the shoreline).

Cleanup volunteer, Joe Robinson, drives the HWF truck towards the cleanup site.

Cleanup volunteer, Joe Robinson, drives the HWF truck towards the cleanup site.

NAR Specialist, Jenn Randall, arranged to bring an all-terrain vehicle to haul debris back to the staging site where it will be removed by helicopter in the coming week.  Mike McCagh, with HI Kombucha, brought a keg of grapefruit kombucha tea to share with the hardworking participants.  Tony Villegas, with Coconut Auto Repair, provided a 4WD vehicle to transport a group of youngsters from Kaʻū.  Joe Robinson, underwater photographer from Kailua-Kona, donated his time and equipment to photo document and film the event.  Randall, added that they were quite pleased by the outcome of the day and that volunteers had removed all the debris she was hoping for with energy and enthusiasm.

Volunteers, Brian Waldo and Tony Villegas, showing off their debris finds.

Volunteers, Brian Waldo and Tony Villegas, showing off their debris finds.

HWF has been leading community-based efforts to remove marine debris from along the Ka‘ū coastline since 2003.  During this time, HWF estimates that over 90% of the 168 tons of debris removed is plastic (e.g., fishing line/nets, shampoo bottles, toothbrushes).  As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Marine Debris Program shares, “Marine debris affects everyone”.  Here locally, HWF strongly believes that the solution begins with individuals like those of who volunteered this weekend and with the small decisions that residents of Hawaiʻi Island make each day.

An assortment of interesting finds from the event … (not including one small glass float).

An assortment of interesting finds from the event … (not including one small glass float).

Examples of these choices include re-using or simply refusing single-usage plastics, bringing your own water bottle or using available drinking fountains, and carrying your own to-go ware to Styrofoam-toting restaurants.

HWF’s Project Coordinator, Megan Lamson, implores, “Do your part to help our marine and coastal wildlife: choose to re-use, remember to recycle, and limit your single-use purchases!  We live on an island, and we must be mindful of how we are treating the land, freshwater, and ocean that support us.”

Kaʻū youth group with their leader, Terry Shibuya, and NARS crew (intern Rory and Specialist Jenn Randall).

Kaʻū youth group with their leader, Terry Shibuya, and NARS crew (intern Rory and Specialist Jenn Randall).

For more info about getting involved in an upcoming cleanup event, please contact HWF at kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com, call 808-769-769 or check out their website at www.wildhawaii.org

Over 600 Attend “Discover Your Future in Aviation” Event

Over 600 people attended Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor’s 5th “Discover Your Future in Aviation” event yesterday, Saturday, March 29, 2014, 10am to 4pm. Attendees consisted of young people interested in aviation as a career or hobby, schools, Scouts, aviation enthusiasts, and families.

aviation future6

The special aviation day featured a Moon Rover, hands-on workshops, remote control flying, open cockpits, a career fair, flight lab, and interactive science exhibits. Historic re-enactors appeared as Amelia Earhart, Rosie the Riveter, a Zero pilot, and more.

aviation rover

In celebration of Women’s History Month and the contribution of women in aviation, the Museum honored Captain Sharyn Emminger Dey, the first female pilot to fly for Hawaiian Airlines who captained the highly publicized flight of the first all-women flight crew of a United States scheduled air carrier. She was available to meet and greet guests at the event.

 

Mayor Kenoi to Proclaim April as Child Abuse Prevention Month

Join Mayor Kenoi as he proclaims April as Child Abuse Prevention Month on the Big Island:
Child Abuse Month

Big Island Police Searching for 17-Year-Old Hilo Girl Missing Since January

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 17-year-old girl who was reported missing.

HPDBadgeUlulihi Watson-Hamilton was last seen at her Hilo home on January 14.

She is described as 5-foot-2, 150 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.