Categorized | Education

Kupa-Aina program brings Keaau students to UH Hilo


Thanks to an innovative partnership between Kamehameha Schools Extension Educational Services Division, UH Hilo, and the DOE Complex covering Keaau, Ka‘u, and Pahoa, 25 Keaau High School students will experience first-hand what studying and living on the UH Hilo campus is like.

“Kamehameha Schools Extension Educational Services Division is thrilled to be partnering with UH Hilo and Keaau High School to provide students with a unique Hawaiian culture and aina based summer bridge experience like no other in the State,” said Division Director of Extension Educational Services at Kamehameha Schools Stacy Clayton.

“Haumana who complete the Kupa-Aina six-week residential bridge at UH Hilo will leave the program with a myriad of benefits: six college credits in college level English and Math, acceptance into either UH Hilo or Hawaii CC, comprehensive college and career readiness skills and most importantly a deep and rich cultural connection to their moku in East Hawaii,” Clayton said.

The 25 Keaau High School students have an interest in natural resources. Āina-based applied learning activities will be incorporated for students to apply their academic learning outside of the classroom at Kamehameha learning sites around Hawaii Island.

The students will learn about the historical, cultural, and geographical significances of the sites and will be able to interact with a cultural practitioner/informant who have cultural connections to the learning sites.

Clayton added, “The Kupa-Aina summer bridge program is more than a college readiness program, it is a cultural transformation experience of the head, heart and hands of our haumana. The bridge program is rooted in the ike and practices of our kupuna, and it will be through their kahiko wisdom we will cultivate our future generation of leaders.”

The first Kupa-Aina Residential Program runs June 23-Aug. 1, 2014.

UHH Chancellor Don Straney, “We are very excited about this new program and grateful to Kamehameha Schools for their partnership. Through innovative programs like this we will be able to improve retention and graduation rates, two to four year college transfer rates, and representation of Native Hawaiian and local students in Agriculture and STEM fields.”

“Research shows that bridge programs are an effective method to enhance the success of students, improve their retention, and increase their college completion rate,” said Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UH Hilo Gail Makuakane-Lundin.

Keaau High School, one of three public high schools in the Keaau-Ka‘u-Pahoa Complex has the largest number of students who graduate from high school (199 in Fall 2012), but also has the lowest percentage of students who attend a UH system campus (41.7 percent) compared to Pahoa (47.1 percent) and Ka‘u (52.7 percent).

This new bridge program will improve the educational capacity and college going rate of Keaau High School students.

Principal Keaau High School Dean Cevallos added, “The partnership with Kupa-Aina summer Bridge project and UHH offer an opportunity for our student alumni to experience college life with such great mentoring I was wishing I could go through it with them. The itinerary for the program and the culture they will be exposed to will be such a great learning experience for all of them. To have a school such as ours with 44 percent full or part Hawaiian access to this great transitional program will be a topic that will resound on our campus.”

Program funding comes from a $158,154 grant from the Kamehameha Schools Extension Education Services Division and a $5,000 grant from the Gloria Kosasa Gainsley Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation.

Their support will fund participants’ room and board, transportation, supplies, as well as staff and teaching assistants to implement the program.

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