Make a Difference Day Gets Students Out into the Community

Students working in a taro patch

ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY’s students give back to their community in many ways throughout the year, but IPA’s annual Make a Difference Day (MADD) provides an opportunity for the entire Secondary student body to contribute to the community in a meaningful way.

On MADD, the students, divided up by grade levels, and their faculty chaperones travel to sites across O’ahu in partnership with different community organizations where they help out as volunteers with various tasks.

This year’s MADD, scheduled for the week before spring break, required some last-minute changes as the COVID-19 pandemic began creating restrictions on gatherings. Student Activities Coordinator Elissa Minamishin was able to redirect their efforts so that all grades were able to participate in some way.

Middle and upper school students participated in clean-ups at several beaches around the island, including Waimanalo, Hale’iwa, and Barbers’ Point. Grade 6 students traveled over to the windward side to work with Sustainable Coastlines, where they learned about the detrimental impact of plastics in the ocean and the importance of recycling before helping sift sand to remove small plastics from the beach.

Grade 7 students spent the day at Ka Papa Loʻi O Kānewai in Mānoa, where they learned about taro, its cultural significance, and its uses. They spent time working in the loʻi patch helping to harvest the taro, and learning more about how to cultivate the plant.

For the Grade 9 students, their volunteer efforts were focused closer to home. They spent the day assisting the IPA facilities department and secondary faculty with various jobs around campus, including cleaning classrooms, organizing bookshelves, and removing unwanted items for disposal.

Grade 12 took over the MPR kitchen to spend their MADD creating baskets of baked goods that they delivered to various first responders, including the Honolulu Police Department, as an expression of gratitude for all they do to help our community.

Make a Difference Day is a perfect example of one of our school’s missions lived out with heart by our students. And there are so many other recent examples of our students performing service to the community – from creating a coloring book club for students stuck inside during the pandemic, to spreading love and aloha to hospital patients, to using design tech to help community organizations, to helping wildlife on the other side of the globe. For our students at ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY, community counts and values matter.


Group photo of students at beach

Grade 6 students with Sustainable Coastlines at Waimanalo Beach Park.


Students learning about recycling

Grade 6 students learn from Sustainable Coastlines about the detrimental effects of plastics in the marine environment.


Grade 6 students use box sieves to remove small plastic debris from Waimanalo beach.


Students in front of harvested taro

Grade 7 students show the taro they helped harvest from Ka Papa Loʻi O Kānewai.


Students cleaning classroom

Grade 9 students help around campus by cleaning classrooms.


Students picking up trash at beach

Grade 10 students help clean the beach at Hale’iwa.


Students deliver gift basket to police department

Grade 12 students personally deliver one of their baskets of baked goods to the Kapolei station of the Honolulu Police Department.



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