Adding to our celebration of May Day all month, we are at the end of May but we’re still able to bring you just one more May Day program!
Ma’ema’e Elementary put together a very festive program that was very ethnically Hawaiian in nature — much more so than I expected. I guess what surprised me most was that I would have expected the country school to be stronger and lean even more that way.
The use of Hawaiian language was what made it so obvious. While we have seen a bigger push in recent years to preserve the language and the culture so that we don’t lose it, Ma’ema’e is part of the public school system which is not where I am accustomed to seeing this degree of cultural influence.
I wonder if the other public schools have put a stronger focus on the culture. Maybe I have been out of the loop for too long! Maybe it was just because it was a May Day program! Whatever the reason, it worked for me!
Although there were minor differences, some things were the same. The most obvious being the desire by the organizers to spread the Aloha around the world!
Flags of different countries lined the fence line around the field.
As is common to most of these types of events in Hawaii, it sprinkled most of the morning as everyone tried to get everything in place. Locals like to call this rain a blessing. It happens at weddings too!
This never stops anyone, including this young man blowing the conch shell at the start of the program!
You can see him pictured here as well with his class of what I believe was sixth graders. The interesting and important thing to note here is the focus and the involvement of the teachers. It was their program too and you could feel the pride of parents and educators alike.
I’m not sure how Ma’ema’e Elementary School managed it but they had quite a group of “celebrity” guests that day!
They had four politicians from their district and beyond! Senator Suzanne Oakland-Chun, Councilman Rod Tam, and Representative Corinne Ching were all there!
To add to their celebrity cast, Honolulu’s Mayor, Mufi Hannemann, was also in attendance.
We need to take note of the lei that Mr. Hannemann is wearing and also that of our next celebrity pictured below. Green and yellow are Ma’ema’e’s school colors and a teacher or other part of the staff, or maybe a parent, stepped in and made yarn leis! Didn’t we just talk about this?
This next celebrity is none other than Ms. Genoa Keawe, a living legend who has been performing and perpetuating Hawaiian music for over fifty years!
This multi-award winning performer was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship in 2000 which was presented in Washington, D.C. by the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 2001 she was a Hall of Fame honoree. She led everyone with the opening songs and played the ukulele as she sang.
It was very heart-warming to see all the volunteers pitch in to make the school’s program a success and an enjoyable venue for the spectators!
If I heard correctly, this dancer who performed the opening hula for the program was also a volunteer who helped with the students and their dances.
I didn’t catch her name but both she and her hula were lovely! The lei around her head is a haku lei. We haven’t mentioned the haku this month. The haku lei is a traditional Hawaiian head lei that is made of different kinds of flowers and ferns. The making of haku leis is yet another artistic endeavor and the haku is an adorning head dress that is much loved by the ladies.
After the introductions of all these guests, the singing of the opening songs and the opening hula, the keiki’s program was ready to begin.
The fourth graders opened the program telling everyone to “Feel Aloha.”
The kindergarten then performed their number labeled “Alu Like” on the program.
They were all in different colors and in different circles around the field.
They looked so happy and so festive in all their bright colors!
The first graders were dressed up as marine life and they did the “Hukilau Ball.” Here’s a starfish!
Here are the honu (sea turtle)!
The 2nd Graders let us know that “We’re All in This Together!”
So many things to take pictures of and so much culture to appreciate! To the right here is their Hawaiian Studies teacher whom I ran into in the hallway.
The school was very well run and the teachers and volunteers were very involved.
You might find yourself leaving there wanting to have a child just so they can send them to school there!
Seriously, a big “Mahalo!” to Ma’ema’e for a wonderful and enjoyable program and, appropriately, an educational experience!