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Hawaii Governor Calls for Reboot of School System

Gov. David Ige today promised to reshape the Department of Education to support dreams and aspirations of each student in remarks he made at the 3rd Annual Hawai‘i School Empowerment Conference at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

The conference was sponsored by the Education Institute of Hawai‘i, a non-profit organization committed to improving public education in Hawai‘i. The annual conference aims to increase awareness and deepening understanding of the effort to improve public education through school empowerment and innovation in learning.

Here is the full text of Gov. Ige’s prepared remarks:

A Clear Path to Achieving Excellence in Hawaiʻi’s Public Schools 

Coding. Robotics. Digital media. International education exchanges. None of these programs were offered when I attended public schools in Pearl City, and it’s impossible to predict what fascinating opportunities await students in coming years.

What I can tell you is this: The success of today’s students in the future workplace and in our communities requires an absolute reboot of the rigid school system built over a century ago. Our school system is simply not relevant to today’s students.

That’s why I asked the members of the Board of Education, those I appointed and those who began serving prior to my taking office, to develop and implement a plan to transition from yesterday’s system to one that truly prepares students to think creatively and to be innovators. I asked board members to design a system that encourages teachers and principals to make meaningful decisions about curriculum and instruction, educational programs, and expenditure of schools funds.

The Board responded to my challenge. They worked with the community to develop a new strategic plan for the department. They courageously determined that transformation requires a fresh mindset, starting at the top. And they initiated a search for a new superintendent. I fully support this decision. We need a change agent who is committed to exploring unconventional options in the quest to prepare our students for the future.

I want students, parents, teachers and other educators to be assured that my goal is to reshape the department so that it supports the dreams and aspirations of each student. I believe those closest to the students understand best how their students should be educated. That is the type of system we are working together to achieve.

The community supports this goal as evidenced by the tremendous participation in last summer’s Education Summit and dozens of follow-up meetings in communities throughout the state. I am proud of the work my volunteer team, parents, teachers, business leaders and community members have done to create a Blueprint for Hawaiʻi’s education system. I asked them to think big, and they did. I can tell you, there is no shortage of innovative thinking in Hawaiʻi.

My passion for education isn’t new, and the solutions I am promoting now aren’t a surprise to anyone who has been recently engaged in the dialogue on education. I campaigned on this issue and education remains my top priority.

We don’t know what the next technological wave will bring. But we do know that Hawaiʻi’s public education system must be set up so teachers are able to exercise their professional judgement and employ tools that enable student success.

Students who design robots in elementary school will build the communities of the future. Students who experience what it’s like to be innovators and entrepreneurs in high school will drive the state’s new economy. Students who travel with their class will collaborate with their peers around the world to solve global challenges. It is our responsibility to provide them with a robust learning experience so they can achieve rewarding and successful lives.

Big Island Police Searching for 15-Year-Old Boy Missing Since December

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

Jacob Mead

Jacob Mead was last seen December 9 in Waimea. He is described as 5-foot-8, 160 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair.

Police ask anyone with information on his 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 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. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Waimea Independent Schools Announce 2017-18 Application Deadline

Three independent, private schools in Waimea have announced February 6, 2017 as their common priority deadline for applications for the 2017-18 school year. In an effort to simplify the process for families applying to multiple schools, Waimea Country School (WCS), Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA) and Parker School have aligned due dates. Families will also receive notification of admission decisions from the three schools at the same time—February 27 for kindergarten and March 6 for all other grades.

Parker School students Lyle Coffee and Malia Dills (both grade 10)work in a kalo field while participating in the 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress on O’ahu in September.

“Many families are unaware that the deadline to apply for the next school year occurs in February,” Emily Pagliaro, Admissions Director at Parker School, said. “We want to get the word out so that those who are interested in an independent school education have as much information as possible about how and when to apply.”

All three schools have a similar admissions process. Generally, they each require an application and fee, school records, teacher references and a student test or assessment. “This can create a big to-do list for parents, especially when applying to multiple schools. Having ample time to prepare is helpful,” Pagliaro said.

Getting to know the educational options on the Big Island is useful in determining the best path for each student. Private schools often offer school tours or open houses so that students and parents can see first-hand what each school’s “personality” is and what their unique offerings are. “In education, one size does not fit all. It is important for each family to find the right environment and program that will best meet the needs of their child, so we encourage families to visit,” said Amy Salling, WCS Head of School.

HPA and Parker School both offer kindergarten through high school programs, and HPA infuses their day student program with boarding students at the high school level. Waimea Country School offers kindergarten through fifth grade, and the multi-age classroom is the cornerstone of their program.

Visiting schools and meeting with representatives of each can also be helpful in understanding what financial assistance may be available. “Sometimes families don’t think they can afford a private school education. There is actually quite a bit of need-based financial aid available, and there are flexible payment plan options. If a family has an interest in our schools, it is definitely worth having the conversation,” said Joshua Clark, director of admission at Hawaii Preparatory Academy.

Visit each school’s website for more information: Waimeacountryschool.org, Hpa.edu and Parkerschoolhawaii.org.

Blessing HCFCU’s Revitalized Kealakehe High School Student Credit Union

The celebration and blessing of the newly renovated Kealakehe High School Student Credit Union continues the legacy of Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union’s founding father’s, which was to provide financial collaboration, education, stability, and a secure path towards financial independence for West Hawaii families.

From left: HCFCU’s president and Chief Executive Officer Tricia Buskirk, KHS School Advisor John Mitchell, Principal Will Murakami and Kahu Brian Boshard officially open the new Student Credit Union on December 8, 2016.

As hundreds of Kealakehe High School students gathered in the school lunchroom, where the student credit union (SCU) was moved to provide greater access to its services, they were treated to a beautiful blessing by Kahu Brian Boshard, performances by the Poly Club Chorus and Band, supportive thoughts from Principal Wil Murakami, and encouragement from school advisor John Mitchell and former student credit union advisor JoAnna Kekuaokalani. Sixteen-year old Rheanne Godot, a Kealakehe junior, and the SCU’s board president, shared her positive experiences behind the SCU teller window.

Interestingly, HCFCU’s president and Chief Executive Officer Tricia Buskirk was a SCU board member herself when she attended Konawaena High School.  “I had so much fun and I believe my financial career was launched when I was a student credit union board member,” she said. “I’m so inspired by these teens who are taking their first steps towards planning for their future.”

The state’s first credit union was HCFCU’s Konawaena branch, established in 1972. In 2005 the Kealakehe High School branch opened, followed by Kohala High School shortly after.

The student credit union offers such services as deposits, withdrawals, and cashing checks. Students that are 15 ½ years or older may also add a debit card to their account.

Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit credit union owned by its over 40,000 member/owners with branches in Honokaa, Kailua-Kona, Kaloko, Kealakekua and Kohala.  In addition to complete checking and savings services, the credit union offers credit cards, auto, mortgage, construction, small business, educational and personal loans; online and mobile banking; investment services; youth programs and supports numerous Hawaii Island programs and events.  Membership in Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union is open to all Hawaii Island residents. For more information visit www.hicommfcu.com.

Hawaii Teachers May Plan Trips and Serve as Chaperones with Private Tour Companies

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission announced it reached an agreement with HSTA regarding teachers serving as chaperones on school-related trips. Under the agreement, teachers may continue to plan trips and serve as chaperones with private tour companies.

This morning the Hawaii State Ethics Commission (Ethics Commission) announced it reached an agreement with the Hawaii State Teachers Association regarding teachers serving as chaperones on school-related trips. Under the agreement, teachers may continue to plan trips and serve as chaperones with private tour companies. However, this is subject to Board of Education policies.

Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi issued the following statement regarding the agreement.

Teachers work hard to create these educational opportunities that go beyond the classroom. For many of our students, these trips are the first time they’ve traveled beyond their communities. We’re pleased about this news and look forward to working with the Board of Education in creating clear guidance for our schools to ensure these trips meet the requirements of the Ethics Commission.

2016 Christmas Baby at Hilo Medical Center

Hilo Medical Center’s first Christmas baby of the year, Hallie-Ray Castro, arrived at 5:48 am weighing 5 pounds and 15 ounces and measuring 19 inches. Her mom, Zashalyn Adrian-Rapoza, says Hallie-Ray came 6 weeks early: “We were wrapping gifts at midnight and I started feeling contractions. By 2:00 am they were nonstop and I was like ‘Seriously…on Christmas!'”

Each of this year’s Christmas babies received a baby bag of supplies and a gift card from the Fraternal Order of the Eagles in Keaau. The Eagles donated the Christmas bags in memory of Karen Snare, former Eagles President, who passed away this year. Each bag was accompanied by a knitted baby blanket donated from a community member and a bear from Kay Jewelers.

Hilo Store Owners Launch Free Education Initiative – Community Outreach Inspired by a Shoplifting Incident

Can compassion prevent crime?

That was a question Breeani Sumera-Lee, manager of Hilo’s Keaukaha Market, found herself struggling with recently after catching a young boy attempting to steal fishing equipment from her family’s general store.

Rather than call the police, Sumera-Lee decided to offer the boy some advice.  But when she suggested the boy apply for a job, he simply answered, “I don’t know how.”  When she suggested he start with resume writing, the boy again explained, “I don’t know how.”

The encounter left Sumera-Lee questioning how different the boy’s life would be if he  possessed skills that would help him make better choices.  Inspired, she set to work organizing a series of free educational classes meant to help uplift the surrounding community.

After three years of preparation including website building and discussions with professionals and community leaders, Sumera-Lee found a class facility and secured teaching commitments from experts in everything from resume writing and interview preparation to financial wellness, self defense, dance, and more.

The inaugural Keaukaha Community Class series will start on January 15 at the Keaukaha Gym, with subsequent classes held on the second weekend of each month throughout the remainder of the year.

Featured presenters for 2017 include former Miss Hawai`i Raeceen Satele, Senator Kai Kahele, 2016 Miss Aloha Hula Ka`iulani Carr, and many others.  Attendance is free and all materials will be provided, along with food and drinks.

To sign up for classes and for more information, visit www.keaukahacommunityclasses. com.  Classes are open to the public.  Self defense class attendees must be at least 18 years of age.

 

Hawaii Partnership Aims to Teach Kids Importance of Dental Hygiene

In an effort to provide oral health services for students who need it, the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) and the Hawaii Dental Association (HDA) are joining forces. The agencies have established a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to promote oral health by teaching students proper dental hygiene techniques and providing information about access to free dental health services.

Click to read memorandum

Dentists will be visiting HIDOE first and second grade classes on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island from Jan. 16-Feb. 28, 2017, which coincides with National Children’s Dental Health Month in February.

“When students do not get the health care they need we find that it affects their performance in school. This partnership is a huge step to provide services to many children who are not getting proper oral healthcare,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “As we work towards closing the achievement gap, we must look at the whole child and that includes their experiences outside of the classroom. We’re grateful to the Hawaii Dental Association for making this opportunity available for students.”

In October, the Hawaii Department of Health released “Hawaii Smiles,” a statewide report that showed a need for oral health improvement for Hawaii’s children. A few of the key findings included:

  • More than 7 out of 10 third graders (71 percent) are affected by tooth decay;
  • About 7 percent of Hawaii third grade children are in need of urgent dental care because of pain or infection;
  • Children from low-income families, as defined as those who are eligible for the National School Lunch Program, have a disproportionate amount of tooth decay (about 31 percent of children eligible for National School Lunch Program have untreated tooth decay compared to 13 percent who are not eligible).

These efforts are also part of a national initiative from the American Dental Association to bring preventative education and dental services to underserved children, which include 92,000 economically disadvantaged public school students in Hawaii.

“The goal of this partnership is to educate children from a young age on the importance of proper dental care. We also want to raise awareness about services that provide free dental care so their families can encourage and foster these new habits,” shared Melissa Pavlicek, president, Hawaii Public Policy Advocates who coordinated the MOA on behalf of HDA.

In ensuring that students come to school healthy and ready to learn, Superintendent Matayoshi has made the health and wellbeing of public school students a priority. She has worked on other innovative partnerships and programs that range from proper nutrition to healthcare access. In 2014, HIDOE launched the “Hawaii Keiki” program with the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The program builds school based health services that screen for treatable health conditions; help prevent and control communicable disease and other health problems; and provide emergency care for illness or injury.

President Signs Gabbard’s Talia’s Law to Strengthen Protections for Military Children

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard released the statement below after “Talia’s Law” was signed into law by President Obama:

“More than a decade after Talia Williams’s tragic death, there have been more than 29,000 cases of child abuse and neglect in military homes. Until now, the same gaps in the military’s reporting requirements that failed to protect Talia and so many other military children remained. Enactment of Talia’s Law closes these gaps by requiring the same protections that exist for any other child to also protect children in military families. While this cannot right the wrongs that failed to protect Talia, Talia’s Law honors her life by helping to get military children, and their families, the support and care they need and deserve,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Tarshia Williams’s daughter Talia Williams in Orangeburg, South Carolina, United States. The acknowledged role of Delilah Williams in the abuse of her stepdaughter Talia Williams helped keep her husband Naeem Williams from receiving the death penalty after he was convicted of murdering his daughter.

“My daughter went through so much pain and agony and I am so proud that Talia’s Law will prevent other kids from experiencing what my daughter went through. I am thankful and honored that my daughter’s legacy will live on through Talia’s Law, and I am grateful for everyone who played a part in getting her law passed, moving one step forward to saving a child’s life,” said Tarshia W. Hampton, Talia Williams’ mother who wrote the original concept of Talia’s Law. Tarshia brought the concept to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to introduce in Congress.

“Protection and early intervention can prevent situations like what Talia faced from happening again. By passing Talia’s Law, Child and Family Service (CFS) anticipates that all military personnel will become more empowered to follow all of the child welfare reporting mandates without fear of retaliation from their command, that child abuse and neglect will no longer be underreported, and that reporting will no longer be discouraged by the military’s chain of command,” said Amanda Pump, Program Administrator for Child & Family Service.

“Talia’s Law will create a further safety net to prevent a child from going through what happened to Talia. An issue of child abuse or neglect that goes unreported or underreported is a failure to allow for a child’s right to safety and a healthy childhood. Abuse of any household member is simply unacceptable. Talia’s Law will enforce early identification and response which is critical to the protection from further abuse. Thank you Congresswoman Gabbard for standing up for our children to assure that their safety and their basic needs are preserved,” said Ryan Kusumoto, President/CEO of Parents And Children Together.

Background: In 2005, five year old Talia Williams was beaten to death by her father, who was a soldier stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawaiʻi. Leading up to her death, Talia suffered months of abuse from her father and stepmother. Despite multiple reports made to military officers, the case stayed within the military’s chain of command, and nothing was done to take Talia out of harm’s way.

Outside of the military, mandated reporters (generally, professionals that come into contact with children such as physicians, psychologists, social workers, teachers, and others) are required to report any suspected cases of child abuse and neglect directly to State Child Protective Services. However, the military’s reporting requirements do not currently require the same direct reporting requirements to state authorities.

To close the communications gap that may exist between mandated reporters and those who may report to the State on their behalf, Talia’s Law:

  • Requires servicemembers and their dependents to immediately report known or suspected instances of child abuse and neglect to their installation Family Advocacy Program Office. These offices are tasked with the prevention, education, intervention, and investigation of spouse and child abuse.
  • Additionally requires servicemembers and their dependents to report any known or suspected child abuse directly to State Child Protective Services, or another appropriate state agency.

In February, the House of Representatives unanimously passed Talia’s Law (H.R. 3894), introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Senator Mazie Hirono worked to include Talia’s Law in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was signed into law by President Obama on December 23.

‘Shop with a Cop’ Provides Shopping Spree for 31 Keiki

“Shop with a Cop,” a charity event that donates gift cards to keiki in need, provided 31 children with a shopping spree this past weekend at the Hilo Target store.

Police officers, young shoppers and Catholic Charities representative Elizabeth Murph (in red lei) surround Santa during the ‘Shop with a Cop’ charity event on Saturday.

Officers from the South Hilo Community Policing Unit and off-duty police, along with representatives from Catholic Charites, the Pāhoa chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Target store, contributed to the holiday splurge for the youth, who ranged from age 3 to teenagers. The event was held from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday (December 17).

The selected children met with the officers and then took pictures with Santa, who gave them each a $50 gift card. The officers then helped the keiki shop for gifts.

All funding was established by Catholic Charities with VFW donating a large portion. The Target store, which facilitated the event, provided snacks, bags and a gift-wrapping station manned by store volunteers, and donated one of the gift cards and additional cards to cover overages.

Shop with a Cop originated in 2000 with the Saint Paul Police Department in Minnesota.

Kohala Farm to School Initiative Pilot Project Develops Recipes with More Fresh Food

The Lieutenant Governor’s pilot project for the Farm to School Initiative is well underway in the Hawaii State Department of Education’s (HIDOE) Kohala Complex on the island of Hawaii. Chef Greg Christian, president and founder of Beyond Green Sustainable Food Partners has been selected to work with Cafeteria Manager Priscilla Galan and her staff to bring delicious local, fresh scratch-cooked food to students.

Chef Greg with Cafeteria Staff

Chef Greg and Cafeteria Manager Galan have been working to develop recipes that incorporate more fresh food that kids both love and are familiar with into the daily menu as well as revamping favorites such as pizza and kalua pig with cabbage.

Taste testings on the experimental menu based on recipes co-created by the cafeteria staff and Chef Greg are conducted daily at the Kohala Complex schools. Some dishes that a number of classes have taste tested include a new pizza recipe, pork adobo with ulu/garlic crisp, chicken adobo sliders with green papaya, and more. Produce for the experimental menu is being sourced from various local farms and markets.

“We are excited to be working with the Kohala Elementary, Middle, and High schools in bringing more local home-style cooked meals into the cafeteria,” said Chef Greg.

“The integration of locally produced foods into the lunches of area schools is a wonderful way to connect students with their farming community,” said Scott Enright, Chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.  “When students are exposed to Hawaii’s farm fresh agricultural products and learn to appreciate the taste and freshness, they will help the State grow the demand for local agricultural commodities.”

Along with creating a menu, Chef Greg, and his team are also collecting data, analyzing costs, inventory and purchasing systems as well analyzing kitchen staff efficiencies versus inefficiencies, among other things.

“This is a significant step forward for the Farm to School Initiative,” said Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui, who spearheads the initiative. “It took many years to get to this stage, especially for our many community stakeholders, such as The Kohala Center, who had already been working on bringing more local food to our school menus.”

The goal of the initiative is to positively influence the relationship our keiki have with their food and the aina by increasing breakfast and lunch participation, boosting the purchase of locally grown food for school meals, and cultivating connections between our schools and local agricultural communities.

In early November, Lt. Governor Tsutsui, HIDOE, Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA), State Procurement Office (SPO) and The Kohala Center (TKC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to allow for policy to be created to guide Farm to School activities in all HIDOE schools, including but not limited to purchasing locally grown food and ingredients, menu modifications, kitchen staff training on scratch-cooking, food waste, and growing food for cafeteria use, among other key components. This pilot program tests localized purchasing and seeks to change the way food is purchased, prepared and delivered.

“This pilot is an exciting opportunity for the Hawaii State Department of Education where we prioritize purchasing local products as a food resource,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We look forward to learning from this collaborative initiative that is focused on our Kohala schools in hopes of bringing it to more schools across the state.”

While executing farm to school strategies that improve student nutrition, supports local businesses and expands agricultural career opportunities for our students, the pilot project will serve as a learning laboratory that conceptualizes a statewide farm to school program within the DOE by December 2018.  This project reaffirms the state’s commitment to improving student wellness and aims to further invigorate Hawaii’s agricultural communities.  The next phase of the project will begin next school year in a larger school complex area on Maui island.

“The pilot project is an opportunity to test innovations in school food preparation, menu development, and buying fresh, local food to improve child nutrition,” said Anna-Lisa Okoye, chief operating officer of The Kohala Center. “By transitioning to student-approved, scratched-cooked meals, the pilot will enhance the quality, nutrition, and taste of school meals while also supporting local agriculture. We appreciate the farm to school advocates from the public and private sectors who have made this pilot possible.”

Across the nation, farm-to-school programs are reconnecting students to a better understanding of the food system and where their food comes from. Farm to school programs introduce students to healthier eating habits and help them become familiar with new vegetables and fruits that they and their families will then be more willing to incorporate into their own diets.

The Farm to School Initiative is a public-private partnership with the Lt. Governor’s office, HDOA, Hawaii State Department of Health, HIDOE, Dorrance Family Foundation, Hawaii Appleseed, Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, The Kohala Center and Ulupono Initiative.

For more information, go to http://ltgov.hawaii.gov/farm-to-school-initiative/

Hawaii Special Olympics Athletes Benefit From Hawaiian Electric Donation

As one of the company’s “125 Acts of Aloha” commemorating its 125th anniversary, Hawaiian Electric has donated $10,000 to Special Olympics Hawaii, the nonprofit organization that provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Tayne Sekimura, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president/chief financial officer, presented the check to the organization during a Special Olympics Young Athlete event at Kaiser High School.

“Every person should have the opportunity to learn, enjoy, and benefit from participation in individual and team sports,” said Sekimura, an avid runner who recently joined the Special Olympics Hawaii board in April.

“The Special Olympics program was founded on a firm belief that there are no limits to the capabilities of people with intellectual challenges. They can participate in a wide variety of recreational experiences and benefit from it as well. Our company applauds the organization in Hawaii for providing these athletes with the proper training and skills to grow their confidence, and ultimately, to shine.”

“We are extremely grateful to be one of Hawaiian Electric’s 125 Acts of Aloha for their 125th anniversary celebration” said Nancy Bottelo, Special Olympics Hawaii president and CEO. “It is through the generosity of corporations like Hawaiian Electric that we are able to continue to transform the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities and their families.”

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 15-Year-Old Honoka’a Boy

12/13/2016 UPDATE: Hawaiʻi Island police have located 15-year-old Kelson Pedro of Honokaʻa, who was reported missing.  He was found Monday (December 12) in the Āhualoa area.

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

Kelson Pedro

Kelson Pedro was last seen in Honokaʻa on December 7.

He is described as 4-foot-10 to 5-feet tall, about 90 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair. He was last seen wearing black pants and black-and-white shoes and carrying a gray backpack.

Police ask anyone with information on his 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. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Waiakea One of Four Schools Earning Spots In Hawaii LifeSmarts State Competition

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) Office of the Securities Commissioner announces the top scoring high school teams for the online portion of the annual Hawaii LifeSmarts State Competition.

The top four teams are from Maryknoll, Pearl City, Roosevelt and Waiakea high schools.  They have earned a spot to compete at the in-person State Competition, which will be held on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017 at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Campus Center Ballroom from 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.  The event is open to the general public.

LifeSmarts is a consumer education program designed to teach students in grades 6-12 about personal finance, health and safety, the environment, technology, and consumer rights and responsibilities. The Hawaii LifeSmarts program is sponsored by the DCCA Office of the Securities Commissioner in partnership with the Hawaii Credit Union League and the National Consumers League.

The teams will test their skills through written tests, a “speed dating the experts” activity, and gameshow style buzzer rounds at the State Competition.  The winner of the competition will represent Hawaii at the National LifeSmarts Competition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from April 21 – 24, 2017.

“Thank you to all the students and coaches for their dedication and participation in this year’s LifeSmarts online competition.  Congratulations to the top four teams who will move on to the State Competition”, said Securities Commissioner Ty Nohara.

For program information on the next competition season and/or sponsorship inquiries, please contact LifeSmarts State Coordinator, Theresa Kong Kee at 808-587-7400 or email tkongkee@dcca.hawaii.gov.  For up-to-date happenings on the LifeSmarts Hawaii program, follow the Office of the Securities Commissioner on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by searching “HISecurities”.

Big Island Students Participate in 25th Annual Deaf Santa Program

Santa Claus greeted more than 100 students from across the state during the 25th annual Deaf Santa program at Pearlridge Elementary. Participants were able to communicate their holiday wishes with Santa without an interpreter.

​More than 100 students from across the state are hoping their holiday wishes come true after meeting with Santa. Today’s occasion brought children who are hearing impaired to Pearlridge Shopping Center for the 25th Annual Deaf Santa Program.

This year was extra special for six students who traveled from Kea’au Elementary.

“This is an opportunity for the students to come and be with peers who have similar backgrounds and situations,” said Kea’au Elementary Principal Ron Jarvis. “We come from an area of the island with high poverty rates and some of the students don’t have the opportunity to travel, so they were excited from the moment we got to the airport.”

Other schools participating in the event included Waimalu Elementary, Pōmaika’i Elementary, Lehua Elementary and the Hawai’i School for the Deaf and the Blind. Students were treated to train rides on the Pearlridge Express, a meet and greet with Santa as well as live entertainment featuring the students.

The program was created for students from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade that are deaf, deaf and blind or hard-of-hearing. The Deaf Santa program is made possible through the support of ASL, Deaf Education & Interpreter Education at Kapiolani Community College; Hawai’i State Department of Education’s Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support Exceptional Needs Branch; Pearlridge Center; Cookie Corner; Pizza Hut; Razor Concepts; Sprint Relay Hawaii; Expressions Photography; Ground Transport; and Roberts Hawaii.

Magic Camp in Honoka’a

The holiday season is a magical time of year, and award-winning magicians Bruce and Jennifer Meyers are celebrating with a very special four-day Magic Camp to future wizards age six and up.

A joint project of Meyers and the Peace Committee of Honoka‘a Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, Magic Camp takes place December 27-29, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and December 30, 5-7 p.m., in the temple’s social hall.

Young magicians will be taught new tricks every day of camp, including how to make things appear and disappear, levitate, switch places, and more. And, they will build their own magic kit to take home and astound their friends.

“The study of magic is educational and valuable for young people in many ways. It can boost confidence, inspire a positive attitude, and so much more,” said Meyers. “And that’s the real magic, helping the kids.”

Cost for Magic Camp is $70 per student. Please register in advance at www.BruceMeyers.com, or call (808) 982-9294.  Financial assistance will be available; please inquire.

For families unable to afford the cost of Magic Camp, the producers welcome contributions or offers to sponsor students in need.  Donations can be sent to “Peace Committee” (c/o Honokaa Hongwanji; PO Box 1667, Honokaa HI 96727).

For further information on how to donate contact: misterokumura@yahoo.com.

UH Hilo Receives OHA Grant Funding

Na Pua No`eau- The Center for Gifted and Talented Native Hawaiian Children has announced that the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo has received funding from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) `Ahahui Grants program. The funds support UH Hilo’s strategic goal to strengthen its impact on the State of Hawai’i by working in partnership with other UH campuses to deliver joint program events or activities.

On February 23, 2017, Na Pua No`eau will present “E Ho`okama`aina” at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College (UHMC). OHA awarded a total of $5,300 for this event, which will invite high school juniors and seniors to engage and learn about the various degree programs from faculty and program coordinators to inspire them to enter into higher education and further their career aspirations.

“Ma Uka a i Kai Akamai Engineers” will be held on April 3, 2017 at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mänoa. OHA awarded $1,950 to invite K-12 students and their `ohana to explore how the different types of engineering (mechanical, electric, civil, etc.) were applied during the days of their kupuna. The Native Hawaiian Science and Engineering Mentorship Program is a partner in the event, which will include games and work on projects that provide hands-on learning about the field of engineering.

`Ahahui Grants support community events that meet at least one primary strategic result. The events will address OHA’s Exceed Education Standards and UH’s Hawai’i Graduation Initiative (HGI). For more information, contact Nä Pua No`eau Director Kinohi Gomes at kinohi@hawaii.edu.

Seventy-Two Youths Participate in HI-PAL Youth Volleyball Clinic

Seventy-two youths participated in the HI-PAL Youth Volleyball Clinic held December 1 at the new Kaʻū District Gym in Pāhala. The free clinic was held in partnership with the UH-Hilo Vulcan Women’s Volleyball Team, County of Hawaiʻi Department of Parks and Recreation and the Hawaiʻi Police Department’s Community Policing Section-Hawaiʻi Isle Police Activities League (HI-PAL).

UH-Hilo Vulcan Coach Tino Reyes demonstrates ‘bump’ form.

UH-Hilo Vulcan Coach Tino Reyes demonstrates ‘bump’ form.

“We wanted to bring the Vulcan athletes out to Kaʻū to share their knowledge and skills with our keiki and are very fortunate to have this brand new, three-court facility that could hold such an event,” said Kaʻū Community Police Officer Blaine Morishita.

Participants learned skills and were able to talk story with the college athletes. Afterward, participants were treated to dinner, which was served by community volunteers, P&R staff and police officers.

For information on HI-PAL activities in West Hawaiʻi, you may contact the Kona Community Policing Section at 326-4646, extension 259, or your nearest police station.

Improvements to Mauna Kea Recreation Area Unveiled

Located near the 34-mile marker of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway at the center of Hawaiʻi Island, Mauna Kea Recreation Area is the only rest stop for many miles in either direction. On July 1, 2014, County assumed management of the former Mauna Kea State Recreation Area from the State of Hawai‘i and immediately commenced with extensive renovations.

mauna-kea-park-entranceUse of the park has continued to increase since the Kenoi administration began improving the facilities. Since assuming management of Mauna Kea Recreation Area, the County has invested over $11 million in improvements.

“When you ask for something, local style, there’s kuleana that comes with that,” Mayor Kenoi said in reference to the expectation that the County would greatly improve the area once management was transferred from the State. “How dare us let our kupuna travel 60, 70 miles with no place to wash hands or use bathroom? No place for our children to stop, laugh and play?”

mauna-kea-park-bathroomsSpeakers at today’s ceremony included Mayor Billy Kenoi and State Senator Kaialiʻi Kahele, the son and successor of the late Senator Gil Kahele, who along with Senator Mālama Solomon led the charge at the State Capitol to turn the park over to the County. Governor Neil Abercrombie signed an executive order to do so in 2014.

The first wave of work included lighting enhancements, removal of dead trees that posed a fire hazard, fumigation, and installation of new picnic areas. Those improvements were completed in-house by County plumbers, electricians, tree trimmers, grounds crews, and equipment operators from the Departments of Public Works and Parks & Recreation.

In Summer 2015, a new playground was dedicated and a new comfort station was opened for the many cross-island travelers that use the park’s facilities.

mauna-kea-park-playgroundThis latest completed phase of work included repairs and improvements to the cabins, dining hall, and other facilities as well as new roadways, walkways, walking paths, fitness equipment, lighting, and other amenities. GW Construction and a number of sub-contractors completed the work.

The Department of Parks & Recreation expects to open Mauna Kea Recreation Area’s cabins for overnight stays in January 2017. For more information, call the department at 961-8311.

CDC Recommends Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine Should Not Be Used – Hawaii Stop Flu at School Program

The state’s annual school-located vaccination program, Stop Flu at School, will be offering free flu vaccine to elementary and middle school children at public, private, and charter schools statewide. Vaccination clinics will be held in January and February 2017.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended the nasal spray flu vaccine should not be used during the 2016–2017 flu season because of data suggesting lower effectiveness of this vaccine. Therefore, only the flu shot will be offered through the Stop Flu at School program.

flu-shotInformation packets and vaccination consent forms are currently being distributed to parents through participating schools and are also available online. A fillable, electronic version of the consent form can be found at https://vaxonlinereg.doh.hawaii.gov. To sign up for the free vaccinations available to their children, parents or guardians should complete and sign the consent forms, and return them to schools by the deadline, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016. Translated consent forms will be available online at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/flu-hawaii/sfas-parents/.

“Since Stop Flu at School clinics will not take place until January and February, we are encouraging parents of children, especially those with health conditions that place them at higher risk for serious complications from the flu (e.g., asthma or diabetes), to speak to their child’s physician about receiving the flu vaccine earlier,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “The school-located clinics are another option for children to be vaccinated.”

The Stop Flu at School program is a partnership between the Departments of Health and Education, and is made possible by the support of school administrators, health care providers, pediatric associations, health insurers, and federal partners. For more information about Stop Flu at School, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/flu-hawaii/stop-flu-at-school/ or call Aloha United Way’s information and referral service at 2-1-1.