WMS students, families, community to benefit from OHA funding

WAIMEA — The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) will once again provide grant support to Waimea Middle School (WMS), totaling $57,000 for the 2018-19 school year — about $500 per Native Hawaiian student registered at Waimea’s public conversion charter school.

“(It’s) a most needed contribution to help our school-community achieve both our own school vision and mission, and to complement the strategic vision of OHA,” WMS’ recently appointed Principal Janice English said.

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OHA’s strategic vision includes strengthening Hawaiian communities’ health, economic self-sufficiency, cultural rootedness and self-governance. OHA gives each of the Hawaiian focused public charter schools it supports control over what to do and how best to deliver programs for students, families and community, based on both the needs of the school-community and unique cultural heritage of the place.

“Here, in upcountry Waimea, we focus lessons and experiences on our generational connection to the land through farming and ranching, and the importance of our water resources. In fact, our entire science program last year revolved around studying wai — water,” English said.

We are also very connected to Hawaii’s navigational history, so students learn about the Malama Honua worldwide voyage of the Hokulea and our own Na Kalai Waa voyaging ohana’s journey, having built and now sailing our own Makalii waa.”

She continued, “Just over half of our students are of Native Hawaiian ancestry but we also have and honor many other cultures from all around the Pacific and world. Hawaii is our home and host culture, so we make a special effort to teach students and families about Hawaiian values, protocols and practices with an active year-round Ike Hawaii program integrated into core curriculum.

Students and their families are encouraged to participate in cultural activities sponsored both by both the school and the larger community.

”We try to nurture a stronger, relevant ‘sense of place’ and respect for the aina,” English said. “This leads to wide-ranging lessons and activities in stewardship, sustainability and self-reliance and includes learning chants, place names and our own family stories — our genealogy.”

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Complementing OHA’s vision and mission, WMS students and families can participate in Mala’ai school garden activities integrated with core curriculum to learn about food cultivation and healthier choices, as well as environmental stewardship. The school also participates regularly in IKAIR community services projects.

“We sincerely thank OHA for their funding support. We have very high expectations for our teachers and staff, and this funding helps provide needed tools and resources to give our students a better understanding of their own place and strengths,” English said. “It also encourages us to intentionally involve the entire community in our student’s lives and community well-being.”

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