My Author-Illustrator School Visit in Paradise!
A bucket list trip with an amazing experience.
Pinch me! Pinch me! Pinch me!
HAWAII. Kaua'i to be exact.
It really happened.
I signed it at the school office and that is about the end of the similarity to most of the other school visits that I've ever made.
Looking around the Kindergarten classroom at Kanuikapono before the students arrived, I couldn't help but spot some of the 'differences' in the surroundings.
Here's where I need to spend some time to explain how the day starts at this amazing charter school. The entire community gathers in the common courtyard for "piko." Before piko begins the teachers and administrators of the school all gather together for the specifics of the day. Here's the view I had from the K porch. Teachers holding hands in a circle. Daily. Announcements. Family.
Each classroom of students then filed down the steps for piko.
The youngest -- kinders -- led the way and then stood in a line facing the leaders.
Behind them filed in a row of first graders.
Each standing behind their younger peers.
All the way through the rows of high school students.
Respectful. In silence.
I was already in awe.
The Pacific ocean glimmering over on the horizon.
The blowing of the conch shells.
Long, low calls.
Hovering over the gathering.
The call by one student. Then the conch response.
Then we all turned 180 degrees for the duo to repeat.
Until all four corners of the island, and the planet were acknowledged.
Even though I was there in the back row as an observer,
I had to pinch my lips not to allow my tears to cascade.
Foreign. Yet somehow amazingly familiar.
Hadn't my mentor-Mimi told me of such a rite?
On a native American reservation she visited.
I didn't wear a watch during our visit to paradise.
But I know that the schedule allowed for half-an-hour dedicated to piko.
It passed in the blink of an eye.
What followed were call and response Hawaiian chants.
All of us standing the whole time, with the Ocean off our shoulder.
This was barely the second week of school.
How is it that kinder-kiddos could show such self control?
My heart was full as we all made our way back to our classrooms.
As is the way of the island, our shoes were removed as we entered the building.
Yes. I asked my audience to pose for me!