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OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

PHOTO: The Hawaiian language immersion students accepting their awards on stage at the 60th annual Hawaiʻi State Science and Engineering Fair. (L-R) Kawai Kaneakua-Rauschenburg, Kalei Kaneakua-Rauschenburg, Sen. J. Kalani English, Kawaiola Bento, and OHA Chair Colette Y. Machado.

OHA recognizes four Hawaiian language immersion students at the State Science Fair

HONOLULU (April 12, 2017)  – The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) today recognized four students whose Hawaiian language science projects qualified for this year’s state science fair, which is being held this week at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center.

OHA Chair Colette Y. Machado and Sen. J. Kalani English presented the students each with a certificate of recognition, a $100 scholarship and an ipu heke at today’s awards ceremony for the 60th annual Hawaiʻi State Science and Engineering Fair.

“We are so proud of these haumāna (students),” said Chair Machado. “They carry on the legacy of our kūpuna’s brilliance and serve as an inspiration for our Lāhui.”

The four students all attend Ke Kula Kaiapuni ʻo Ānuenue and advanced to the state science fair from the Honolulu District Science and Engineering Fair.  The four students submitted two joint projects:

  • Kawaiola Bento (6thgrade) and Kalei Kaneakua-Rauschenburg (6th grade)
    Project Title: Ka Ikaika o ke Kaula Hawaiʻi
    Category: Material Science
  • Kawai Kaneakua-Rauschenburg (11thgrade) and Kamalei Krug (11th grade)
    Project Title: ʻO ka ʻAoʻao Hea o ka Mokupuni ka ʻAoʻao Nona ka Paʻakai he Nui Loa ma ke Kai?
    Category: Chemistry

In recent years, a growing number of science projects produced in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi have been submitted to various district science fairs across the state. Since 2015, at least one Hawaiian language science project has advanced to the Hawaiʻi State Science and Engineering Fair, and this year’s two Hawaiian language submissions are the most to have made it this far in the same year.

“The presence of these Hawaiian language science projects at the state science fair is an educational opportunity for all in our state to understand that Hawaiian is a viable language for home, school, science fairs, business, government, and everywhere in between,” said Kamanaʻopono Crabbe, OHA Chief Executive Officer and Ka Pouhana.  “It clearly demonstrates that our Hawaiian immersion students can be successful in the Hawaiian language in any context they are placed in, and it speaks to how far the Hawaiian language revitalization movement has progressed in the last 30 years.”

Sen. J. Kalani English, a strong advocate of Hawaiian language, agreed. “These science projects give us a chance to reflect on the Hawaiian immersion community’s accomplishments, and celebrate the fact that because our children speak Hawaiian, they can advance to the highest levels of achievement in all of their endeavors,” said Sen. English. “The biggest victory of all is the recognition that Hawaiian is not something that can hold us back, but rather, it is the vehicle that enables every member of our community to bring their dreams to fruition.”

While once spoken throughout Hawaiʻi by Native Hawaiians and foreigners alike, ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi was considered to be nearly extinct by the 1980s, when fewer than 50 fluent speakers under the age of 18 were left.  A major reason for the deterioration of the Hawaiian language was an 1896 law that required English instruction in Hawaiʻi schools. In practice, this law functioned to ban students from speaking ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi.

Efforts to preserve the language over the years have included ʻAha Pūnana Leo’s Hawaiian language immersion preschools and the Hawaiian language programs of the University of Hawaiʻi system. In 1978, the Hawai‘i State Legislature recognized Hawaiian as a co-official language of Hawai‘i, thereby making Hawai‘i the first state in the union to designate an indigenous language an official state language.

Also among these ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi revitalization initiatives was the Department of Education’s Hawaiian Language Immersion Program (HLIP), known as Ka Papahana Kaiapuni. HLIP was started in 1986 to revitalize the Hawaiian language by establishing the next generation of native speakers through the public school system.  Today, HLIP is offered at 23 schools and educates more than 2,000 students in kindergarten through the twelfth grade. The four Hawaiian language students recognized today attend Ānuenue, which is an HLIP school serving grades K-12 in Palolo.

“It is important to Ānuenue and the Papahana Kaiapuni that our students’ projects are done in the Hawaiian language, which is the language of instruction in our school,” said Ānuenue School Curriculum Coordinator Leilani Kamalani. “We have asserted that because Hawaiian is an official language of the State of Hawaiʻi, our students’ project boards should be allowed to be completely in Hawaiian.  We appreciate the support of the Office of Hawaiian Education and the Hawaiian language community, including Kanoelani Steward, volunteer Hawaiian-speaking judge, as well as the Hawaiʻi Academy of Science, for allowing that to happen.  We also appreciate the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for recognizing the work of our students.  Mahalo nui i ke kākoʻo ʻana i ka hoʻonaʻauao Hawaiʻi.”


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