Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke attended the Ke Kula ʻO Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu Iki Laboratory Public Charter School on the island of Hawaiʻi, where she experienced firsthand the achievements and challenges of Hawaiian language education from preschool through high school.
The deputy governor began her visit by greeting the students in Korean and sharing her own language experiences with them, emphasizing the importance of speaking the language of one’s own culture.
“The fact that we have a school dedicated to the Hawaiian language medium of speaking ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi is not as simple as the language itself,” Luke said in a press release. “It’s really about learning about culture and kuleana through language and interacting with kids from age three, preschoolers through grade 12, and having them look forward to going to school and learning about the culture and all the experiences that ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi delivered were just amazing.”
The students offered the Lt. Governor offered a campus tour before meeting with teachers and leaders of Hawaiian education to learn more about the Hawaiian Medium Education teacher training pipeline and the work of ʻAha Pūnana Leo, the Hawaiian Medium Preschool.
“It’s nice to see the resources that the legislature has dedicated to the Hawaiian language medium over the last several years being utilized,” Luke said. “I am committed to continuing efforts in this area because parents should not only have a choice, but also a constitutional right to have their children educate their children in a Hawaiian language preschool and beyond.”
ʻAha Pūnana Leo will soon be celebrating its 40th anniversary.
“We are really happy and proud to have made it this far,” said Kauanoe Kamanā, director of Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu. “The beginning of Pūnana Leo was really about a dream and trying to address the urgency of the deaths of our native speakers. We are actually reversing the ill effects of our government’s fall 130 years ago by bringing back our language through the voices of our children and seeing our Hawaiian worldview in everything they do.”
ʻImiloa is a Hawaiian language media consortium that ensures educational resources for the growth of Hawaiian media education throughout the state of Hawaii.
“The Lt. Governor recognizes the need to perpetuate Hawaiian language and culture through our youngest learners,” said Kaʻiu Kimura, executive director of ʻImiloa. “We look forward to working with her in her efforts to make preschool more accessible to families seeking a Hawaiian secondary education.”