From grit to entrepreneurship: Merrie Monarch prep offers students valuable lessons

At Ke Ana Laʻahana Public Charter School in Hilo, Hawaiian protocol and a sense of ohana are central to the daily routine.
Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 11:00 AM HST|Updated: Apr. 19, 2022 at 1:20 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At Ke Ana Laʻahana Public Charter School in Hilo, Hawaiian protocol and a sense of ohana are central to the daily routine.

So much so that the isolation of the pandemic made life difficult for these young lives.

“At one point it got very depressing for me. It was just that no social contact,” said junior Kamryn Vasquez.”

“Being around my kumu, being around my classmates or friends even the younger kids, it’s kind of what I like to do,” added junior Kahealani Margaret Moala Pelekane.

Pelekane and Vasquez are making lei to sell at the Merrie Monarch Arts and Crafts Fair.

It’s a school tradition that they’re taking part in for the first time.

“I just wanted to give out my vibes, my mana to others,” said Pelekane, who uses puakenikeni flowers for her lei while Vasquez makes what’s called the “Hilo Twist.”

”When we work together, it’s like binding us together like one,” said Vasquez.

Artwork and photographs will also be for sale made by the students.

“Hula is an art form and so is visual arts,” said Lehuanani Waipa Ah Nee, photography and navigation teacher. She says all of their imagery comes with moʻokūʻauhau or genealogy.

“I always tell them what I can’t teach you is the eye. You have to have an eye for what you do. What I can teach you is how to stay rooted in your work,” said Ah Nee.

Mapuana Waipa, po’o kula or head of school, says making products for the craft fair teaches sustainability, entrepreneurship, and other important life lessons.

”I like the excitement of it all, the sharing, meeting our families again,” said Waipa.

“Merrie Monarch is coming. We’ve got to get ready,” she said.

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