Tuesday, October 12, 1999


By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Amelia Manu, who plays Princess Victoria Kaiulani's mother,
performs a hula with some of the other students who are in
the play about the life of the princess.

Student portrayals
breathe life into Princess
Victoria Kaiulani

The princess' namesake school
marks its centennial with a
celebration of her life

See also: Island Images

By Crystal Kua


KELLIE Dinwiddle-Kala has a lot in common with the woman who might have been queen of the Hawaiian kingdom.

"I'm Hawaiian and Scottish," the fourth-grader said, noting that Princess Victoria Kaiulani was of the same ethnic mix.

Wearing a long dress with a sash and patent-leather shoes, her long hair pulled back, Kellie also has similar features to the princess, including big, dark eyes and a fair complexion.

"I act a little like her too," Kellie said, referring to a description of Kaiulani as spirited and vivacious.

Kellie is one of four current or former Kaiulani Elementary students who will portray the princess during stages of her life in a celebration of the Kalihi-Palama school's 100th anniversary this week.

Princess Victoria Kaiulani Elementary School opened on April 22, 1899, a month after Kaiulani died at the age of 23.

"Her memory is being kept alive with the naming of this school," Principal Charlotte White said. "It's a culmination of 100 years of hard work by many, many people."

This week's celebration, which coincides with Kaiulani's Oct. 16 birthday, includes a look at her life through 10 dramatic vignettes.

Those scenes will be presented at three performances. The first is at 5 p.m. today at the Princess Kaiulani Sheraton; the second is at noon tomorrow at Ala Moana Center's centerstage; the third is at 8:45 a.m. Friday at the school's hula mound as part of the annual Kaiulani Day program.

Students, teachers, staff and community members are playing the roles of people in Kaiulani's life, including her parents, Miriam Likelike and Archibald Cleghorn, and poet Robert Louis Stevenson.

Also represented are her pet pony, turtle and peacocks.

The school kicked off the centennial in April with a luau.

"Through these rituals, that's how these kids learn," said fifth-grade teacher Ruth Nishimura, who is overseeing the dramatic production. "They learn of the significant events of the past and why we're here today."

The vignettes will depict Kaiulani's royal lineage, birth in 1875, childhood years at the family home at Ainahau, schooling in England, the end of the monarchy and then finally her death.

Kellie plays Kaiulani at age 11, a time of joy as she's given a royal education and of sadness when her mother dies.

"I have to be happy and sad -- that's kind of hard," she said.

Like all students at the school, Kellie has learned about Kaiulani's life through classroom studies and songs.

Some of those songs, like "He Inoa No Kaiulani," will be sung during the production. The Royal Hawaiian Band, Campbell High School band and Kalakaua Middle School band will accompany the students.

The school received a $5,000 grant from the Artists-in-the-Schools program, money that helped pay for costumes and hire artist Dwayne Valdez, who created the 16-foot-by-8-foot scenery backdrops. George Kon of the Alliance for Drama Education assisted with the dramatizations.

The 100th-anniversary festivities not only look at the life of the princess but also honor the school's accomplishments of today. In two weeks, representatives of the school will be traveling to Washington, D.C., to accept an award for being named a national Blue Ribbon School.

Kellie said she hopes this award and other achievements will enable this generation of Kaiulani Elementary students to leave a lasting impression for the next 100 years. "I hope they remember that our school is very special."

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