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December 2007

Hawai`i News

20 Years of Hawaiian Immersion

By William H. Wilson

Hawaiian immersion education is celebrating 20 years in Hawai`i's public school system. It is certainly something that the Hawai`i Department of Education can be proud of.

The integrated Pūnana Leo preschool-through-grade-12 statewide system is the most developed program for a Native American language in the United States. It has been widely praised by national researchers for its academic and cultural success.

Indeed, Hawaiian immersion has parallels in its development with the educational system of Finland, whose students currently lead the world in academic achievement.

Drawing special attention to the program locally this year has been the amazing Hawaiian-speaking football team of Ānuenue School. When Ānuenue goes out on the field, it carries with it the mauli, "the living essence," of 2,022 Hawaiian-speaking students in 27 sites throughout Hawai`i.

Photo from `Aha Pūnana Leo
Student at Pūnana Leo writes in Hawaiian.

Hawaiian immersion education has the highest percentage of Native Hawaiian students of any statewide unrestricted enrollment program in Hawai`i -well over 90 percent. A large percentage of these children also come from low-income backgrounds with parents who have not attended college. Some people do not believe that such children - or any Hawaiian-speaking children - can attain academic success. They are wrong.

The school graduation rate for immersion is above the state average – 100 percent for most years. Approximately 80 percent of graduates have gone on to college. This past year a second immersion student graduated from Stanford and another was enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Oxford. Others have enrolled in such universities as Loyola Marymount, Seattle University and Northern Arizona University along with many in the University of Hawai`i system.

The academic success of Hawaiian immersion has occurred in spite of many high-performing students transferring to private schools. In recent years, Hawaiian immersion students have met Kamehameha's admissions criteria at a rate double that of English-medium schools.

The Hawai`i state Board of Education was criticized in 1987 when it took the bold step of incorporating the nonprofit `Aha Pūnana Leo developed immersion program into the Department of Education (DOE.) One of the most widely-repeated criticisms was that Hawaiian immersion would produce students unable to speak, read or write English. The reality is that by high school graduation, all immersion students speak, read and write English as well as, or better than, their peers in English schools. The ability of immersion students to match peers in English has a parallel in the performance of these students in academic testing.

Science through Hawaiian language.

While Hawaiian immersion schools produce English skills equivalent to English schools, no English schools - public or private - match Hawaiian immersion in Hawaiian. It is the high skills in Hawaiian that give immersion students an added cultural and academic advantage.
Scientific research has shown that children who have high oral and written fluency in two languages have an advantage in their thinking skills.

Hawaiian immersion education promises to reach even higher levels of success. In cooperation with the state DOE, the `Aha Pūnana Leo and the Kamehameha Schools, Nāwahīokalani`ōpu`u Laboratory School of the University of Hawai`i-Hilo is developing a model Hawaiian language medium program. The school has a current project to develop basic skills in Hawaiian reading by the end of preschool. By high school the project aims to have taught all students four languages. The goal is full bi-literacy in
Hawaiian and English with additional high-level study of Japanese and Latin.

The goals of further strengthening education through Hawaiian are attainable. A parallel example of contemporary success is the small country of Finland. Finland has a highly distinctive language in which reading is easily taught due to a consonant vowel syllable structure similar to that of Hawaiian.
Finland requires all students to develop full oral and written fluency in both Finnish and Swedish (its second official language) and to study several years of a third language, usually English. Many students study a fourth language of their choice before graduation. Finland is listed by the Program for International Assessment as the top academically performing country in the world today.

Ironically, parallel to a ban on Hawaiian-medium schools here, Finnish was once barred from schools in Finland with only Swedish allowed as the medium of education. Furthermore, ethnic Finnish children were sometimes viewed by those of Swedish background as uninterested in academics, not unlike a negative perception of Hawaiian children once common in Hawai`i. However, over the past 100 years, schools taught through Finnish have reached the very top of academic achievement in the world. Hawaiian language medium education has made great progress in the past 20 years.

Like Finnish medium schools, we will achieve even more in the next 20 years.

William H. "Pila" Wilson and his wife, Kauanoe Kamanä, were among the founders of the `Aha Pūnana Leo and Hawaiian immersion. Both of their children were educated through the system to grade 12. Wilson is chair of the Academic Programs Division of Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani Hawaiian Language College at University of Hawai`i-Hilo. This commentary was first printed in the Honolulu Advertiser.

A Family Memory of December 7, 1941

By Elliott Manning

Elliott Manning was born in Honolulu, Hawai`i. He wrote this letter to his children so they can remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor at the start of World War II, the recollections of his parents who were there when it happened, and his early life in Hawai`i.

Dear Heather and Blake,

On the Sunday morning of December 7th, 1941, Grammy (Maile Jean Elliott) and her boyfriend Lee Manning were at the Lanikai Beach house, near Kailua Beach on the northeast side of Oahu Island, getting ready to have a picnic.  As I remember Grammy telling me, she and Lee were sunning on Lanikai Beach when planes started flying low and shooting and bombing the Waimanalo Army Air Force Field, just over the hill.  At first, they thought this was just another practice by the U.S. Forces.  But when they saw the Japanese marking on the planes and the smoke and fire from the United States Marine Corps (USMC) Base at Kaneohe, they realized that this was no practice drill!!! 

Maile Jean and Lee Manning wearing gas masks in Hawai`i during World War II.
Photo courtesy of Maile Jean Elliott

Francis Lee Manning (later to be my father) was in the Marines from about 1937 to 1946, serving in China, the Philippines, Hawaii and in California during World War II.  But on that Sunday in December, Sergeant Lee Manning was on sick leave at the old Tripler Army Hospital at Fort Shafter, just a few miles from Honolulu when he got a pass to take Maile Jean to the beach that Sunday morning.

Come to find out later that he had been listed as missing in action, because the hospital room that he was in, had been bombed and so, going to the Lanikai Beach house had saved his life!!!
Maile Jean and my Dad-to-be, raced in her car to the USMC. Base at Kaneohe where Grammy was to stay with the other ladies on base until she was able to return to her parents home at 2216 Hyde Street in Honolulu.  Lee Manning remained at the base with Grammy's car that was fitted out with a machine gun on it for shore patrol work.  I guess the USMC was looking for anything that would run at that time. Grammy still has pictures and a model of her car on her desk in Port Angeles (Washington.)  

Grammy and my Dad lived through the attack at Pearl Harbor.  Later on Grammy was
evacuated by troop ship to California to stay with relatives.  In due time, Grammy returned to Honolulu and married Lee Manning, who she had met before the war on the passenger ship S.S. Lurline between Honolulu and the Mainland USA.  (Hawaii was not to be a state until 1959)
I was not born until 1944 in Honolulu and lived there until we moved to California and Texas where your Uncle Scott and Aunt Kris were born. We returned to Honolulu in 1957 and lived at the old family home on Hyde Street in Manoa Valley.  I went to Stevenson Junior High School, Roosevelt High School (where Grammy and Uncle Rex went) and took several classes at the University of Hawaii.  Most of my work in Honolulu was as a broadcast radio engineer at stations KORL and KGU for about five years. I also worked part-time as a charter boat owner and captain at Waikiki.  (Later on, I would work as a charter boat captain in Newport, Oregon and Westport, Washington also a short time in radio at KLIQ AM & FM in Portland, Oregon.)

I left Honolulu for good in 1966 when I joined the U.S. Merchant Marines and went to
sea.  I served on several voyages to Japan, the Philippines (where my Dad was before WWII broke out) Vietnam, Panama and US ports, on the S.S. Hattiesburg Victory and S.S. Old Westbury. Later on, I would join the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves where I served for twenty six years. Well that's my story.....

All my love, Dad   

Elliott Manning’s grandparents cruised to Hawai`i on their honeymoon and decided to stay and live in the Hawaiian Islands. Elliott now lives in Yakima, Washington and also enjoys cruising. He is a member of the U.S. Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association and has been a Gentleman Host on major cruise lines around the world.

Maui Partnership Helps Kama'āina
Return to the Islands to Work

From the Maui Economic Development Board

Hawaii graduates from mainland colleges and former residents seeking jobs back home should check out the two proven Maui connections to find available opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as well as other fields.

"The steady growth of large mainland firms, as well as expanding local businesses in Maui County has created a strong demand for kama'ainas seeking entry level and experienced positions," Jeni Gaskin, Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) Project Manager said. "Our Kama'aina Come Home partnership is helping to bring home local talent to fill jobs."

Kama'aina Come Home is a successful job placement program launched in 2006 as a collaborative effort between MEDB's Women in Technology (WIT) and Ka'amaina Careers, a Hawaii job referral company based on the West Coast. 

Since its inception, the program has helped more than one homesick kama'aina find his or her way home.

"After getting my Electrical Engineering degree at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, I really had this desire to come home.  I missed the beaches and my family," Sesame Shim said.  "I was unaware that there were opportunities on Maui for EE's just starting out.  I thought I had to work for a couple years before even thinking of finding work at home."

MEDB and the Kama'aina Come Home initiative connected Sesame with Oceanit, one of Hawaii's largest and most diversified science and engineering companies.  Today she's employed as an engineer, working and surfing at home.

Interested kama'aina are encouraged to register online at www.kamaaina-careers.com.  Registered job seekers also have the option to submit a resume that will be directly forwarded to companies with matching interests.  There is no charge for this service.

Another great connection to make is the High Tech Maui Holiday Job Fair which will be held on December 27 this year at the Maui Research & Tech Park in Kihei. (More information on p.8)

The Job Fair offers job seekers a chance to meet and discuss their qualifications in person with top STEM employers on Maui.  At the same time, it offers employers the unique opportunity to relay company information and recruit Hawaii-born students and former residents who come home for the holidays.

When Maui native Nathan Kimura was a junior at Gonzaga University, he attended the High Tech Job Fair during the holidays, where he applied for and received an MEDB/Center for Adaptive Optics Akamai Internship.  The experience helped him get an internship at Textron Systems after graduation, which eventually led to a full-time position.   

"I was fortunate enough to get hired back home as an Associate Algorithm Developer at Textron Systems," Nathan said.  "The best thing is the flexible hours!"

Participating employers at the 2007 High Tech Maui Job Fair include Akimeka, The Boeing Company, County of Maui, Hawaiian Telcom, Maui High Performance Computing Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center, Oceanit, Pacific Disaster Center, Science Application International Corporation, Trex Enterprises, Textron Systems, Monsanto and more.

Jobseekers are encouraged to pre-register for the event and upload resumes for employer review at www.hightechmaui.com.

For more information on Ka'amaina Come Home or  the High Tech Maui Job Fair, contact Jenilynne Gaskin, WIT Project manager at 808-875-2332 or email jeni@medb.org.

Kama`aina Careers was founded in 1998 by Hilo native Jon Sakurai-Horita. He has over 20 years experience assisting employers with their employment needs, as well as directing the Career Centers at Santa Clara University and the University of San Francisco.

Kama`aina Come Home and the High Tech Maui Holiday Job Fair are workforce initiatives of the Maui Economic Development Board a (501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation) and funded in part by the County of Maui and the Department of Labor.

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