Sunday, May 31, 2015

Another School Year Comes to a Close

In three days, SY2014-2015 will come to an end.  I was browsing through the yearbook that the Parent Teacher Organization put together and reminisced about everything that had taken place this past year.

Our Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation process was our biggest challenge this year. Every member of our staff was involved in the process, and the whole school community rallied around to ensure that the visit reflected our self-study report.  The Visiting Committee validated our report as well as the areas of strength and areas for improvement. We are still awaiting news from WASC about our accreditation term; we will let you know when we receive that report.

As I thumbed through the pages of the yearbook with photos of the different activities, I felt proud that our students were community contributors.  Our students loved participating in activities like the Turkey Trot, Jingle Bell Run, and Jump Rope for Heart.  We contributed generously to the Hawaii Foodbank, the Wounded Warrior Project, the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society. Our second graders also participated in their annual beach clean-up as a culmination of their social studies unit about renewable and non-renewable resources. We will continue to encourage our students to participate in these kinds of projects so they realize that they can make a difference in this world. After all, we may live on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but our students are global citizens.  What we do now impacts their world in the future.

Our taught curriculum focused on the Common Core State Standards and embedded critical thinking, problem-solving, and project-based learning. But school is more than just academics.  As I browsed through the yearbook, I saw evidences of other meaningful learning experiences such as the school-wide Cardboard Challenge, grade level gardens, learning about Hawaiian history and culture, intramural activities, and service clubs such as Student Council, Greeters Club, and Junior Police Officers.  A well-rounded school experience includes art, music, drama, and physical education as well as the academics, and we are pleased that Hale Kula offers these opportunities for our students.

Of course, a review of the year would not be complete without mentioning our construction project. We started off the school year in the beautiful and spacious new administration building, and as the year ends, we are beginning to move into the new classroom building; next year, about 200 students will be in the new classrooms, and all students will be able to use the tech lab. Construction will continue for at least one more school year when the library media/student center and the covered play court should be ready for occupancy.  We are so grateful to all those who made this project possible! Our students now and in the future will be the beneficiaries of their foresight in allocating the funding necessary to upgrade our facilities.

The ending of the school year is bittersweet.  While most of us look forward to summer break, working in a military-impacted school means that about a third of our students and their families will be leaving our school. I wish I could see all of our students as they progress from kindergarten through fifth grade and transition to middle school and high school, but that rarely happens in a military-impacted school. It is my hope that these students will remember their time in Hawaii and at Hale Kula with warm memories and that they will spread "aloha" wherever they go. Fortunately, through social media, we can keep in touch with those who have left Hale Kula.

As this school year ends, I'd like to thank everyone for making 2014-2015 a memorable year at Hale Kula Elementary School!

Students ran to music at the annual Jingle Bell Run and brought in donations for the Wounded Warrior Project.  The Student Council representatives researched different charitable organizations and voted to donate any funds raised to the Wounded Warrior Project. 

Our JPOs worked with the military police once a month to remind drivers to drive safely.  

Our partners, the HHBN 25th ID, assisted with various projects throughout the year. We really appreciate their partnership with our school, and they enjoy being with the students and helping out.  Here, they are helping with the Cardboard Challenge activities. 

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