Thursday, June 30th 2016 marked the culmination of months of hard work, dedication and perseverance by our Ka Pa‘alana keiki, caregivers and staff. We held our 8th annual Ka Pa‘alana Preschool graduation at the Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall’s Pīkake Room to honor our students moving on to kindergarten or transitioning to other preschools and one very special mother for obtaining her GED. We were honored with the presence of many distinguished guests and dignitaries such as First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige, U.S. Attorney Florence T. Nakakuni, OHA Trustee-at-Large Leina‘ala Ahu Isa. There were members of our own PID board and admin, Morris Takushi, Trish Morikawa, Kaulana Park and many more from our supporters and friends.
This year’s theme was “Under the Sea” and our amazing staff ran with it! There was a gross motor tunnel where the children could dress up in scuba gear and explore 3 different stages of the ocean and the life therein. Our keiki were able to walk on the seashore, “swim” in the shallows and “dive” down into the abyss. Families also got to work together to create their very own pāpale ‘opihi and pa‘u limu; we had some seriously adorable little sea creatures at graduation. There were games for the children and their caregivers to enjoy together such as “Let’s Go Fishing” and “Octopus Ring Toss” and everyone in attendance was able to take a few turns in our ocean-themed photo booth.
There were words of advice, love and encouragement from our President and Chairman of the Board Jan Dill and Ka Pa‘alana Program Director Danny Goya. Representative Andria Tupola, this year’s keynote speaker, graced us with an interactive and rousing speech. Representative Tupola made 3 points in her speech: the first was patterns; “What kind of patterns are you setting for your child?” Are you making an effort at regular dates with your child, such as a weekly visit to the park or library? Secondly, sounds; “What kinds of sounds are we showing our keiki?” Do you want to leave your child with sounds of love or anger and disappointment? Finally, impressions; “What kind of impressions will we leave our children with?” Are you going to be the parent cheering and encouraging on the sidelines or the parent that never makes it to a performance or recital?
Our graduates were gifted with makana from Nicole Souza and Kamehameha Schools, Uncle Corbett Kalama and The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Aunty Debbie Nakanelua-Richards and the Yoneda ‘ohana. The smiles from ear to ear of the keiki and their parents lent to an overall atmosphere full of laughter and excitement. As we close one school year here at Ka Pa‘alana and prepare for a new one we must keep in mind one critical question from Uncle Jan: “Pehea nā keiki?” Our goal as always should be the answer, “Maika‘i nā keiki.” The children are well.