WAIMEA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - By Janelle Guerrero-Miguel
Three seniors are walking away from a Big Island charter school with more than just their high school diplomas.
Ka'ihikapu Maiku'i, Jetamio Henshaw, and Marche Matsumura, from Kanu o Ka 'Aina Public Charter School, have earned post-secondary certificates from Hawaii Community College.
The three were part of the school's early college program, and will be enrolling in college in the fall.
HCC offers 12 courses to students at the charter school.
In some cases, instructors teach early college participants on the charter school campus during the regular school day. In other cases, courses are offered online or via video-conferencing.
While students are taking the college courses, they're also earning high school credit.
Maiku'i, who will be attending Hawaii Pacific University in the fall, said taking college courses in high school allowed her to get a jump start on her bachelor's degree.
"I'm motivated to 'go for it' in school because that's how I'll see my dreams come true," she said. "I plan to be trained in both Western and traditional Hawaiian medicine and to serve our Waimea community by opening a practice here that draws on the best of both worlds."
Henshaw will be attending the University of Hawaii at Hilo and intends to major in marine biology.
She's interested in learning about the aquatic ecosystem and seeks to solve the coral bleaching problem.
Matsumura is off to Chaminade University and wants to major in criminology. She wants to start her own non-profit that helps at-risk youth.
Charter school Principal Mahina Paishon-Duarte says that the grads are the kinds of students that educators are nurturing at Kanu o Ka 'Aina.
"By connecting them to the achievements of their kupuna (ancestors) and the roles they fulfilled to care for their 'ohana, 'aina, and communities, we seed in our students the drive to do the same- to reach the same levels of excellence, to serve the same goals," Paishon-Duarte said.
She added that the achievements of these students exemplifies their school motto: Kulia I ka nu'u, or "to strive for excellence."
The school's early college program got financial support from Kamehameha Schools and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.