The highlight for me this week was our Star Gazing event on Wednesday evening. You may remember that in early December, Jenna Ishii from the Polynesian Voyaging Society visited Assets and spoke with some of our students regarding Hōkūle‘a and the Worldwide Voyage. After these presentations, Jenna stayed and spoke with Assets faculty members, Caitlin Mates, Jason Wagner, and Aina Badua. It was then that they first dreamed up the idea to do a star gazing event for our community, and their vision came to fruition on Wednesday with a night full of activities.
Mahalo to our parent ‘ohana for kicking off our event with a tasty pizza dinner. We were then treated to student performances. In addition to a high school dance group, we enjoyed Class 43 students perform along to the reading of the book, “Cloud Dance” by Thomas Locker. The children used dance as a language to communicate how clouds drift and dance across the sky. As the book describes, our students showed us how clouds act wispy, glow and fade, shimmer, march, tower and burst! Class 43 was followed by Class 42, who gave us a “star tableau” performance. I enjoyed seeing the students work together to interpret and recreate these celestial forms. All of the students had been working hard for weeks to get their moves just right, so it was enjoyable to see them win rave acclaim.
After student performances, we gathered around apprentice navigators from the Polynesian Voyaging Society and experts from the Hawaii Astronomical Society to learn about wayfinding and celestial observation. The Hawaii Astronomical Society was generous enough to bring several telescopes that allowed us to look closely at the surface of the moon. We were able to see Venus. We also saw Jupiter and her four moons, along with the two dust stripes that were fronting the planet. What a thrill!
We also need to send a big mahalo to our art teacher, Christin Fox, for creating multiple art stations for us to enjoy in between learning from our experts. We had the opportunity to make glow-in-the-dark constellations on card stock that we could take home. If you didn’t want to paint, you could have made star origami. We also had glow sticks that many people made into a bracelet, which illuminated our way out on the dark backfield. The biggest hit was the constellation mural though. Students and their guests were able to design and name their own constellation on our mural. The mural ended up being so beautiful that we decided to hang it in our hallway. I love that we have a piece of art hanging on our walls that was created by students, parents, grandparents, siblings and other family friends.
Mahalo to everyone who was able to attend and make this evening such a special one. As I was outside speaking with many families, I was reminded of our fictional friends Huckleberry Finn and Jim. When we join Huck and Jim in that classic novel as they are traveling down the Mississippi River, Huck tells us,
“It’s lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened.”
I was reminded Wednesday how magical being out under the stars is. How the dark expanse of the sky, and the tiny lights that fill it, can inspire such awe, wonder and mystery in so many of us. As countless others have done before us, it serves as a lovely setting to gather under to strengthen relationships and learn.
Staff Appreciation Week
It’s only fitting that we end this post how we started, speaking of stars. This time, I’m not referring to those in the sky; but rather, the educators and staff members who take such good care of our students and families. They are true stars, and I stand in admiration of them as much as I do the ones above us.
We celebrated our faculty and staff at the beginning of February with Staff Appreciation Week. Each day students were invited to present teachers with a different token of appreciation. Our parent ‘ohana closed the week by hosting a fabulous catered luncheon.
My favorite day of this week was when students were invited to decorate a heart with a message to one of their teachers. As you saw above, our students shared how meaningful their teachers are in their lives. This is an important act because educators often do not get the opportunity to see the full harvest of their work. Teaching involves planting and nurturing seeds of knowledge, wisdom and values. Because learning is an endless journey, we are fortunate when we get a glimpse of these seeds sprouting during the year or two that a student is in our classroom. Our seeds often don’t fully bloom for many years though. So, it’s nice when we take the time to express gratitude to our stellar Assets teachers who work so hard. Please join me again in celebrating and thanking our teachers.