COURTESY OF ISLAND SCHOOL
Eleven members of the student group JUMP (Juveniles Use Media Power) to Change the World went to Kenya for a month last summer to produce an AIDS awareness media project. Here, Andrew Jones teaches children in Kibera, Kenya, a slum just outside Nairobi, how to play Hacky Sack.
World of service
Overseas travel lets students from Island School help others
Producing AIDS awareness media projects in Kenya. Building orphanages in Swaziland. Saving sea turtles in Costa Rica. These are just a few of the projects Island School students are working on to improve the world.
3-1875 Kaumualii Highway
Lihue, HI 96766
300 (grades K-12)
It has a high school student body of only 90, so it might come as a surprise to some how involved Island School students are in the community and the world.
Many Island School students are concerned about the crises in Africa.
Last summer, a group of 11 students, members of JUMP (Juveniles Use Media Power) to Change the World, traveled to Kenya for one month to produce media for AIDS awareness.
"Working with media is a hobby of mine, and putting it to use to help others was beyond words," said Bailey Knopf, a junior.
Island School students met with youth groups in Nakuru, Kibera (a slum outside of Nairobi) and Mombasa. They taught their Kenyan partners to use media as a new way to share their AIDS awareness information with a larger audience. The group also donated laptops with accessories, digital cameras and video cameras to each Kenyan JUMP group.
"Working with students my age from another country really opened my eyes to how alike we really are," sophomore Isabelle Worley said.
Everyone who went agreed that they got back more than they could ever give.
Two other students, Jesse and Annaleah Brown-Clay, spend nearly all their school breaks in Swaziland, a tiny country surrounded by South Africa. Their mother, Claudia Brown, heads a nonprofit organization called Positive Vision which supports Swazi people who have been affected by HIV/AIDS.
"To see how others have to live, it's only right to want to help," Jesse Brown-Clay said.
Dean of Students Adie Siebring joined them last summer.
"Seeing people live without running water, electricity, food, a family and social services was truly a life-altering experience that makes me realize how much I have and how much more I want to do," Siebring said.
The school now sells T-shirts that the Swazi women make, and all proceeds are returned to the women to pay for food, clothing, education and other daily necessities.
This summer, the Spanish club will travel to Costa Rica for a service project, helping newly born turtles get to the sea. The six students and their teacher, Jessica Sherburne, also will learn more about Costa Rican culture during their two-week trip.
"It will be great to be able to work with the turtles and have the experience of speaking Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country where I've never been before," Trevor Bloom said.
More trips are being planned for 2008. A second JUMP trip is in the initial planning stages for a project in India, and Siebring is planning to take a group of students to Swaziland.
Island School strives to prepare students for the real world, and there is no better way to do that than actually sending them out there. As Jesse Brown-Clay put it, "Our school may be small in size, but our hearts are big!"
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Student interests display diversity in senior projects
Female drag-racers and surf technology were among the many topics studied
Education at Island School extends beyond the classroom. This belief is the basis for senior projects, requirements now in their second year. Seniors choose a topic of interest, create an outline, conduct research and present their findings to the community.
This year's seniors explored topics including women's rights in Africa, the effects of the Superferry, psychological aspects of women in drag racing and how surfing technology has advanced.
Micah Punua tackled the question of "which renewable energy source is most beneficial to Kauai's economy and environment." Punua said high gas prices, electric bills, global warming and his interest in science were the reasons he chose this topic.
"I talked to the engineer at (Kauai Island Utility Cooperative), and by doing that I was able to see how much per capita is being spent on electricity. It's reaching out because I'm researching for the community's sake to see how we can lower our costs," Punua said.
After a trip to Kahoolawe last summer, Tayler Dabin began to question what is being done to restore culture and life on the island.
"I saw the state the island is in," Dabin said. "I also learned about the culture and how important it was to the Hawaiian people. I just wanted to know what's being done to restore it."
Sky Smith is studying the psychological aspects of women in drag racing.
"I wanted to research this question because my mom drag-races, and I wanted to know why women are good at it and why it is now socially accepted for women to drag-race in a male-dominated sport," Smith said. As part of her research, she interviewed women in her family who are involved in the sport.
Logan Alcott is researching programming in C, a computer language, and gender. "I taught different people C programming to see the different ways people learn," Alcott said. "In my study the girls seemed to learn easily, and the guys showed a wide range of learning styles."
Alcott learned many things during his research about his subject as well as about the process.
"Managing your time is probably the most important thing," he said.
Jasmine Blaine completed her project on women's rights in Africa. As part of her project she collected recyclables from people and businesses in the community, and over a period of about six months, she raised $1,000, which she sent to the Panzi Hospital in the Congo to care for women and children.
In mid-April the seniors will present their projects to an audience of faculty members, students, parents and community members.
"I guess it will be beneficial later in life to learn public speaking skills. I know I need to do it to graduate, so I might as well make the best out of it. Most people are afraid to speak in front of people, but once it happens their nerves ease a bit," Punua said.
Jim Bray, a teacher who oversees the projects, said, "There are two major reasons for senior project. At your academic level you should have an opportunity to pursue something of your interest and design. The second is that it's preparation for the independent work you'll have to do for post-secondary education."
Blaine believes the experience has been valuable.
"I think that my senior project has impacted me in many ways because it's made me extremely passionate about helping others and my environment," he said, "and it will show other people the importance of reaching out."
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"Seniors were asked, What is your senior project?"
"I'm looking into the psychological aspects of women in drag racing."
"I'm interested in the best renewable energy source for Kauai's economy and environment."
"My research is about the changes and advancements in surfboard design."
"I'm interested in learning why many teens don't care about global warming and what they can do to help."
"My research is on alternative modes of transportation on Kauai."
"I focused my project on women's rights in Africa."
"I want to know what is being done to restore culture and life on Kahoolawe."