Saturday, May 3, 1997Name: Keoni Wilhelm
Position: Performance Arts teacher
Pastimes: Hula Halau Kealakapawa, time with family
They dance their social studies, sing their language skills and practice math by learning about rhythm. Still, Keoni Wilhelm's music class at Puuhale Elementary School is no song and dance.
In tune with the fine arts
This year for the school's annual spring festival, each grade level will develop and perform a selection from a different country to the theme, "Music Around the World."
"They're really in tune to the fine arts," said Wilhelm of his students. "I think it's partly because of their cultures and rich (ethnic) backgrounds." (Principal Gary Oyama says the Kalihi school's student body has a fairly high percentage of kids with Filipino, Samoan, Portuguese and other mixed backgrounds.)
"The kids really enjoy him so much that they literally run to his class," said Oyama. "It's really a gift he has. He's so young and so talented."
Wilhelm said: "My classroom environment is nonthreatening and it gives the kids a chance to explore and understand themselves. They feel confident in my class. I give them the opportunity to take risks and express their input."
Currently, Wilhelm is in a master's program in curriculum development. Unlike many of his peers, but lucky for Hawaii's kids, Wilhelm said he wants to stay in Hawaii when he's finished with school. "My roots are here. I see a lot of opportunity on Oahu," he said. "I really feel like I belong here. We need to continue the arts."
Mary Sano, Special to the Star-Bulletin