Students turn to social media to save school from Puna lava flow - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Students turn to social media to save school from Puna lava flow

PAHOA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) -

There's not much more residents living downslope of the projected path of the Puna lava flow can do, except watch and wait, but that's not the case for students at one campus that could be claimed by lava.

Hawai'i Academy of Arts and Science is located off Post Office Rd and Highway 130, and could take a direct hit. Nearly 600 students will be impacted.

But they're not just standing by, they're hoping to harness the power of social media to save their school.

This isn't your typical school. Hawai'i Academy of Arts and Science is a public charter school, and it's lying in the direct path of the Puna lava flow.

School officials have activated HELP, HAAS Emergency Lava Program.

"It was designed to absorb students on both sides of lava flow if necessary as well as some of the other students in the area that may be displaced," says Eric Johnson, a Language Arts teacher.

There will be satellite campuses on both the north and south side of the lava flow, for students and their teachers to relocate to.

Plus, there will be a digital program for the K-12 students who may not be able to readily get to a classroom.

"We're taking this as a lesson in life and we're using it to our full advantage here," said Steve Hirakami, Founding Director and Principal of HAAS. "It won't be business as usual but we're going to do our best to keep our education."

The official plan is still on schedule, but it's the student-run project that's getting a lot of attention right now, especially on social media.

Stella Javier is a 15-year-old sophomore, and says the goal is to reach out to people and raise awareness of how great her school is.

"We want to show our accomplishments and how important it is to us and that in the course of this lava coming, we care about it a lot," Javier said.

The students have even started an online campaign to raise money to save their school.

Lyric Peat, a 14-year-old sophomore, explained that the original goal was for the students to put another building on campus, such as another bathroom, a gym, or a cafeteria since they didn't have them yet.

"But then the lava started going in the path of our school so we changed our focus to help save our school - so that's where we got our name Hope for HAAS," explained Jade Steele, a 16-year-old junior.

"Every dollar that we raise, it means that one other person knows about HAAS," 16-year-old Jordan Drewer said. "Which means another student that could come to HAAS or help HAAS grow."

It seems there is definitely hope for these students, who have already collected thousands of dollars and fans on Facebook and throughout their community.

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