Hawaii Calls–to me, every day

I spent the morning at Island Pacific Academy’s annual May Day celebration watching the entire student body and staff  of this small West Oahu private school’s junior kindergarten through twelfth grades come together in celebration of the Hawaiian culture through song and dance.

It makes sense. We live in Hawaii. We should celebrate the culture of the place in which we live. Island Pacific Academy does.

It is my favorite event every year. The fresh air, the hot sun, the colors, the music, the flowers, the children, the spirit.

I can’t help but mention the women who make this happen: Momi Kuahiwinui, Ruthe Babas, Veronique Braithwaite and Laura Gabriel (and some of their husbands who are a big help too). They are a silver lining in an already bright sky.

This year’s theme “Hawaii Calls” with the hapa haole songs of the first half of the 20th century was particularly refreshing. The opening song “Hawaiian Lullaby” gave me chicken skin as the children and staff surrounding me sang of the exact reasons that Hawaii calls to me every day. What a pleasure to feel that call today from these children.

Did I mention that a live band including Miss Momi’s husband played the music and all of the singing was performed by Mrs. Babas, Ms. Braithwaite and Miss Momi’s daughter Makana? Amazing.

Mahalo Nui Loa to the staff, students and families of Island Pacific Academy for a glorious morning in celebration.

As much as I would like to post photos of all the beautiful children, I will respect their privacy on the World Wide Web and only post photos of the staff.

Happy May Day and lei day and celebrations across Hawai’i Nei

I am ashamed to admit that  when I drove up to the Island Pacific Academy parking lot to pick up my older daughter, who was helping set up for the May Day festivities to be held the next day and I saw how hard they were all working to make a stage and a seating area and decorate with palm leaves and plumeria flowers, I wondered to myself, “Is it worth it?”

I knew right away that I was just feeling guilty that I wasn’t out there sweating with the best of them and that  the next day would turn all of their labor into a blessing for my family and the entire IPA community at the 4th Annual May Day Celebration, Na Mo’olelo Hawai’i, The Legends of Hawaii.

Of course it was a blessing. Legendary. And a beautiful story they told.

My Jewish Hawaiian Princess joined the court, representing the island of Hawaii. Both of my girls danced. Our princess wore a hand-made lehua lei that her grandmother ordered from her brother in Hilo.

And the school came together under the clear, sunny sky, in our growing city of Kapolei, to revel in this May Day tradition of hula and song.

Even more remarkable is that the students danced to live music provided by June and Makana Kuahiwinui, Les Harris, Charlie Fukuba, and Madi Davis. IPA music teacher Ruthe Babas sang as well.

Their music was so perfect and their voices  so beautiful that I had to look several times to make sure it was not a recording. IPA Teacher Veronique Braithewaite was missed due to her  maternity leave, but they honored her with a big photo at the microphone.

I felt a bit emotional thinking that this will be my older daughter’s last May Day with IPA. She  will enter ninth grade at Kamehameha Schools next year. I tearfully remembered all of the care from Miss Momi and Mrs. Babas and then felt a little silly. We are not leaving IPA. Our younger girl will be there next year. Our blessings will grow with two programs to attend.

It  still tugged on my heart-strings, this rite of passage.

Kol Hakavod and Mahalo Nui Loa to Miss Momi and Mrs. Babas and all of the dedicated students and parents who came together to make this wonderful celebration a part of IPA’s history. Na Mo’olelo IPA.