May Day at Leihoku Elementary

On Friday, May 11th, I was finally able to catch a May Day program!

School Sign

Leihoku Elementary on the leeward side of Oahu (or on the Waianae Coast as we like to call it) provided a great venue to share this tradition.

I had been looking for a reason to snag one of these programs and when I was talking to an old girlfriend that I have been separated from for many years and found out she has four children… “when is their May Day? On the 11th? Really?”

Waianae is outside Honolulu proper to be sure, but, it’s still home and it still falls under the City and County of Honolulu’s radar. Besides, Leihoku’s theme says it all — “Aloha Around the World!

Royal Court and Stage

Every May Day program has a Royal Court and this one gets up near the start of the program to dance for the crowd that is lined along the fences and seated in beach chairs or just on the grass surrounding the school’s field.

Royal Court Performs

Every Court needs a king and queen! In the background here is the king of the May Day Court and below is a picture of the May Day queen as she dances along with her court.

May Day Queen Dances

In the 6th grade Paula is dressed for her May Day program In keeping with their theme the different grade levels performed different ethnic dances. There were Japanese dances, Chinese dances, and others that I couldn’t keep up with as I moved around the crowd looking for the best vantage point.

There is something going the whole time and it’s easier to just sit and watch and not annoy the other spectators. But, I enjoyed watching the behavior of people in the crowd almost as much as watching the keiki perform!

I had forgotten how we always used to lean against and hang on each other. There was a lot of physical contact like that. It just came naturally — without a second thought. I liked being reminded of that.

The 6th graders performed a traditional Samoan number. On the left here is one of my dear friend’s four darling children.

This is Paula Ann dressed in her clothes to join her 6th-grade class in their performance.

The rest of her class does a wonderful job and, for the most part, seemed to enjoy it very much!

Grade 6 doing Samoan dance

The interesting thing about this performance is to note the different skin tones. This is so Hawaii and so part of what makes us who and what we are.  It is our youth who teach us that race is irrelevant and has no place in our culture; a culture long ago affectionately and appropriately referred to as the melting pot of the Pacific.     

Samoan dance performance

One of my personal favorites of the Polynesian dances is Tahitian. Here the 5th graders perform traditional Tahitian dance. I love the costumes and the feathers!

Grade 5 does Tahitian number

These kids are having a great time! So many smiles and you know they had to practice a lot before this day came along!

Tahiti represented by Leihoku 5th graders

The use of flowers and feathers is truly something to behold.  All of the colors and the smiles that go along with it certainly create a wonderful atmosphere!

The fourth graders wrapped things up with a more modern number. I needed to get some of the words to completely understand it but I think the message was that we all make up the world and we all make the world go ’round.  Something like that.  The message was there.

4th Graders wrap up the program

Close-up of 4th grade performance

I was lucky for this performance and I was able to get in closer. Conveniently, this is Paige, another one of the four children my friend has been blessed with.   

Paige performing with the 4th grade

The king dancing with his queen below is wearing a maili lei. I will get a better, closer picture of the maili lei for another post soon. I promise.

Court dances to Maui Waltz

Closer to the end of the program, the Royal Court got up once again and danced to the melody of “Maui Waltz” — one of my favorites of the local love songs with a haunting melody.  So pretty and very moving. The kids did a great job!

There’s something about growing up on the leeward side. The air is better and somehow healthier. It’s the country. But, like the rest of the island, its population continues to increase.

Rhonda's four children

The leis given to our May Day stars by their other two siblings, BJ and Tiffany, are candy and cracked seed leis. My darling friend whom I haven’t seen for over 22 years has four wonderful babies! What better reason could I have to visit the old home town than to watch a May Day program and have the chance to admire the progeny of a beloved friend at the same time?

The kids, especially the oldest one, Tiffany, reminded me so much of their mother and the first time I met her nearly thirty years ago. Their father was there with them but at this point I still have not seen their mother. I finally connected with her and another mutual girlfriend later that afternoon. We tried to catch up. So much to share! We’re women — we need more time!

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Carole // May 23, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    This looks like so much fun. I bet the kids had a ball. I’m glad you were able to reconnect with your friend. Girlfriends are so important.

  • 2 Evelyn // May 23, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Most kids don’t get a chance to perform in public at this age. Some do, of course, but the majority do not. It’s just nice to be able to say they did and have that memory. Much like sporting events, it’s such a treasure for the kids to know mom and/or dad cared enough to come and watch! There were a lot of parents there that day! My girlfriend had an appointment she couldn’t get out of but their dad was there! 🙂

  • 3 Rhon // Aug 7, 2008 at 12:18 am

    This is so incredible, thank you for sharing this. This brought tears to my eyes. I love it.
    My kids did have a great time and were so excited to finally meet my dearest friend. I do miss you so much.
    Paige is going to school tomorrow and share with the class about the website and pictures. She is so excited. They are tickled pink to see this on the internet. THEY ARE STARS!!
    Thank you again

  • 4 Evelyn // Aug 7, 2008 at 5:57 am

    Hi Rhon! They’re incredible, just like you! Now I have to miss you and them too! 🙂 They’re so happy. Were we that happy? I guess we were, huh? Life is good at that age; we just need to keep it that way as we get older!

  • 5 Rhon // Aug 7, 2008 at 8:51 am

    Its funny how life changes so much, and we get so busy, but May Day keeps the same traditions year after year.
    Life is good at their ages, simple and pure. Thats the way it should be.

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