HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - At Kuhiawaho Loi near Leeward Community College, 17 high school students who have had problems in conventional school are getting back on track.
They're enrolled in a new dropout prevention program that challenges their brains and their bodies.
"They've helped me to realize that education is important for me. It's been a big change in my life," student Feavai Faapouli said.
The ninth- and 10th-graders are enrolled in the Papahana 'O Kaiona Alternative Learning Program for teens from Nanakuli and Waianae.
Educational specialist Ami Akeo said everything about the project-based program is integrated.
"So they'll get their English, math, social studies and science all within the projects that we're currently working on," she said.
Lessons are taught in classroom settings and at various sites like the kalo farm.
“Learning definitely happens here. We talk about conservation. We talk about land management. We talk about sustainability,” teacher Lyman Panui said.
The students are encouraged to improve their grades so they can graduate on time and to set and pursue goals beyond school.
"I want to go to college. I want to become a doctor. and I want to help my family. My family is the biggest thing to me," Eloise Zabala said.
Representatives from non-profits and agencies help with instruction and academic achievement is measured through standardized testing.
“When I’m in regular school there’s a lot of distractions. That was bad for me,” student William Joseph said.
State lawmakers funded the program that’s in it’s first year.
Akeo said it will take time to determine if the program is successful but judging by attendance it appears the students are developing a positive attitude toward education.
“They tell us all the time how if it wasn’t for the program they wouldn’t be here today. They probably wouldn’t be in school today,” she said.