New Kamehameha Schools learning center in Nanakuli hosts hands-on programs for youth

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 5:00 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - On an open air lanai at the Kalanihookaha Community Learning Center on a recent day, steady tradewinds cool teenagers as they work on an ukulele project.

The youth are from an alternative education program.

“For whatever reason they were either truant or flunking. They are referred to this program,” said Lyman Panui, a teacher with Papahana O Kaiona Alternative Learning Program.

“What we try to do is present academics in school in a different way, a more hands-on approach.”

The teens from Nanakuli and Waianae and are among the first to use the new building constructed by Kamehameha Schools.

“It’s nice. It’s beautiful. I believe it’s going to help us out even more,” said student Kuali Moses-Marcelino.

The large one-story structure sits on two acres at Nanakuli Village Center. It has more than 6,800 square feet of indoor and outdoor space.

“Part of KS’s strategic plan and vision is to impact the environment and educational systems. We’ll do that through the center and these partnerships and collaborations,” said Kimmie Timson, Kamehameha Schools project manager of community strategies.

Spacious classrooms can be reconfigured into a large conference space, and there are outdoor areas for celebrations and gatherings.

Construction on the $10.9 million learning center was completed last year, but the opening and the start of programs were delayed because of the pandemic.

“It’s amazing to have a center here in a native Hawaiian community for native Hawaiians to thrive and grow,” Timson said.

Makaha Cultural Learning Center, Leeward Community College and the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center also plan to use the building to assist native Hawaiian teenagers, young adults, and others in the surrounding community.

“Just the resources that this place provides for these students is definitely awesome,” Panui said.

The building is dedicated to the late Dr. Agnes Kalanihookaha Cope. It weaves together education, health and the Hawaiian culture.

“Auntie Aggie is definitely singing from the heavens right now,” Timson said.

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