May Day is celebrated in a very traditional way at IPA, with performances by students in all grades. In the weeks leading up to the program, students and faculty can be seen and heard practicing for their parts in the pageant. Parents contribute time in the creation of costumes, bring arrays of tropical plants and blossoms, and volunteer to decorate the stage and performance area. “This felt like the real ‘old time’ May Days I remember from when I was a kid,” commented one tutu (grandparent) after one of the celebrations ended.
The May Day program begins with pū kane (men blowing on conch shells) gathering the attention of everyone in the audience. 2015: Seniors Brian Arde, Robert Roy and Dayne Ramos blow their conch shells to announce the beginning of the program.
The 2015 May Day celebration was held on the morning of May 1 with the procession of the May Day Royal Court to preside over the oli (chant), mele (song) and hula (dance). Musicians provided music for audience enjoyment until the program began.
2015: IPAʻs May Day court (L-R across the stage) Niʻihau (Grade 7) kahili bearer Mavryk Paaluhi, Princess Melody Witten-Watthanasook and Prince David Pavlicek; Kauaʻi (Grade 11) kahili bearer Marc Delucchi, Princess Toni Oyama and Prince Giovanni deLugo; Oʻahu (Grade 12) kahili bearer John Black, Princess Jami Alamar and Prince Ian Schumaker; Lanaʻi (Grade 8) kahili bearer Michael Murakami, Princess Alexa Lyman and Prince Kaikoa Kila; Queen’s Attendant Kula Kukonu (’15); Queen Jenna Minami (’15); King Ryan Posiulai (ʻ15); Kingʻs Attendant Dustin Agbayani (ʻ15); Molokaʻi (Grade 10) Princess Taylor Kodani and Prince Jake Arakawa, kahili bearer Maxim Knight; Kahoʻolawe (Grade 9) Princess Madison Yamamura and Prince Ethan Suga, kahili bearer Christopher Gionson; Maui (Grade 6) Princess Maxie Machado and Prince Kailer Suerth, kahili bearer Nethaniah Terman; Hawaiʻi (Grade 5) Princess Kamaile Ah Tou and Prince Taylor Horita, kahili bearer Joshua Kuakini. (in front of stage) Preeya Prasad (’21); seniors Robert Roy, Dayne Ramos, Brian Arde. (sitting) Makana Kuahiwinui, Momi Kuahiwinui, Ruth Babas.
Students from Grades 5 through 12 express their interest to be part of the May Day court with an essay and are selected through a process of interviews. Each of the eight main islands of Hawaii are represented by a Prince and Princess accompanied by a kahili bearer. The positions of May Day King and Queen and their two attendants are reserved for Seniors.
Kindergarten teacher and Kumu Hula Momi Kuahiwinui and Elementary Music teacher Ruth Babas collaborate on the program each year and coordinate all the various performances. The theme for 2015 was Malama Hawai’i. In the Primary Years Program (PYP Grades K-5), students read and learn many Hawaiian legends and other kinds of mo’olelo (stories) during ʻolelo sessions. As the book, “Folktales of Hawaiʻi,” points out, these stories have been passed down through the generations by storytellers who have traditionally held places of honor.
Storytelling has served as a principal source of entertainment while simultaneously providing instruction about many aspects of life – ancestry, history, human relations, crafts, and the natural world. As noted in “Folktales of Hawaiʻi”, moʻolelo are important in conveying information and values that are still meaningful and necessary for people in Hawai’i today.
“The process of creation of these moʻolelo,” explains Kuahiwinui, “starts with someone being inspired by a relationship to the land, for example, or some other life experience and writing a moʻolelo about it. Later, that same person or another person will feel inspired to compose a mele about that moʻolelo.” Many of the songs in the IPA Malama Hawai’i May Day program are examples of this process.2015: Na Pua o Kekoʻolani (IPAʻs hula halau) comprised of students from across the grades and includes faculty, mothers and grandmothers performed during the May Day.
Spectators are always reminded to bring blankets or beach towels to sit on, hats and sunscreen, and a bottle of water to drink, since the program is outdoors.