Hawaiian immersion preschool celebrates milestone

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - A preschool that educates children in the Hawaiian language is celebrating 20 years in West Hawaii.

Punana Leo o Kona opened in 1994 in a two-story house in Holualoa. Now housed on the grounds of Christ Church Episcopal in Kealakekua, the preschool accepts 15 students a year.

The preschoolers are prepared for kindergarten while becoming fluent in Hawaiian. Nearly all of the school's 3- to 5-year-old children are fully fluent within three to four months.

The school is one of 11 statewide operated by Aha Punana Leo Inc., which led a movement to remove a ban in 1986 on teaching Hawaiian language in public schools.

West Hawaii Today reports Punana Leo o Kona is celebrating its anniversary with a fundraiser banquet on Saturday.

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