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IPA Students Get Back Into the Community to Make a Difference

After two and a half long years, IPA Secondary students were finally able to get back into the community on Friday, October 7 for IPA’s annual Make a Difference Day. Make a Difference Day (MADD) provides opportunities for IPA students to give back to the community by helping as volunteers at different community organizations.

For IPA students, reaching out and being involved in the Kapolei community, and beyond, is a natural expression of our core values of “generosity of spirit” and recognition of the “power of human kindness.” This kind of service learning aligns with the mission of our school and helps our students become involved, caring citizens with a true interest in bettering their community.

This year for MADD, Secondary students signed up with their faculty chaperones to travel to sites across O’ahu, partnering with Kākoʻo ʻŌiwiSustainable CoastlinesWaiʻanae Mountains Watershed PartnershipMari’s Gardens, and ‘Ilima at Leihano, where they performed community service by helping with various tasks.

“One of IPA’s greatest assets is the willingness of our students to serve the community,” shares Ruby Fernandez, Students Activities Coordinator and organizer of the day.

More than 90 Secondary students spent the day with Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi in Kāne’ohe, where they learned about taro, its cultural significance, and its uses. They spent time up to their knees in mud, working in the loʻi patch helping to clear out the overgrowth, and learning more about how to cultivate the plant.

Another bus load of students headed to Waimanalo Beach Park to meet up with Sustainable Coastlines and learn about the deleterious effects of plastics in our oceans. They spent the morning across the beach sifting sand and removing small pieces of plastic as a community cleanup.

A smaller group of students headed west to the beautiful Waiʻanae mountains where they worked with Waiʻanae Mountains Watershed Partnership to help clear patches of land in preparation for the planting of native plants, while another group traveled to central Oʻahu for a service day at Mari’s Gardens.

Grade 11 and 12 students brightened the day of the residents at nearby ‘Ilima at Leihano with a full-day visit that included Zumba, origami, and a painting workshop – lead by Japanese teacher Yoshiko Tokuda and visual arts teacher, Jene Komine. The juniors, seniors, and seniors enjoyed a Hawaiian lunch kindly provided by ‘Ilima at Leihano.

“Make a Difference Day is a day when we see our students excited to literally get their hands dirty, to get busy,” shared Fernandez. “It’s a day where they get to do exactly what our 5 Agreements teach them every day – to hoʻolohe to who needs help or what needs our attention; to mālama our people and land; to have kuleana for our community; to be pono with our surroundings; and to show aloha to everyone at any time. Whether it’s in the loʻi, doing Zumba and painting with kupuna, or even protecting our precious watersheds, our haumana are ready.”