Monday, June 14, 1999


It’s back to the soil for
student, 14

By Rod Ohira


Twenty-one Pennsylvania third-graders added a touch of aloha to an Earth Day project in March 1991 when they planted a pear tree at Central Manor Elementary School.

Their teacher, Helen Koken Seiss, said her students collected soil from all 50 states by writing to residents.

"One of the students had a brother in the Air Force stationed in Hawaii," said Seiss of the Hawaii soil source.

Seiss' granddaughter Rebecca Koken Herr, who was then 6 years old, was selected by the third-grade class to deposit the soil from Hawaii since the tree was being planted in memory of her late grandfather, former Millersville University science department chairman James Koken.

The tree is now about two stories high, said Seiss.

Seiss, a retired teacher, is treating Rebecca, 14, and her sister Katie, 16, to a Hawaii vacation this month.

"Hawaii is Rebecca's adopted state, and this will be her first trip to the islands, so she's very excited," said Seiss.

The most difficult task for the 1991 project was getting soil from Wyoming, recalled Seiss.

"We thought nobody lived in Wyoming," she said.

The class got its soil from the husband of Seiss' hair stylist, a truck driver who went to Wyoming for a job.

Central Manor is located in Washington Boro near Lancaster, about 85 miles west of Philadelphia.


Bonnie Kaanaana has gained a unique perspective on life as a Hospice Hawaii volunteer.

"The biggest hurdle," Kaanaana said, "is to get them not to treat you as a guest. It's a crisis for everybody, so you have to be sensitive and not try to take control.

"I've learned to be a good listener."

Kaanaana, Campbell Estate's human resources and administrative services manager, has assisted 48 patients since becoming a hospice volunteer 14 years ago. She spends about four hours a week assisting families or caregivers with transportation, grocery shopping or other needs.

"I've never been asked to do something I wasn't comfortable with," said Kaanaana, who was honored in May by the Alexis de Tocqueville Society in Honolulu for her work with Hospice Hawaii.

"It's a wonderful feeling to see families bond. A dying person is usually very glad to see you because you're helping to complete a circle for them.

"Whenever I say goodbye, I say it like it's the last time I'll see that person."


Royden Apana, Nanakuli High & Intermediate's multimedia coordinator, and one of his former students, James Taylor, have taken the school's electronic media class to another level.

"In the past we've been more service-oriented," Apana said. "We're now expanding into entrepreneurship and integration of curriculum so the kids can use multimedia to better express themselves."

A project that Apana hopes to implement next school year is an Internet Web site that features student portfolios with more than the normal resume information.

"It'll include highlights of extracurricular performances of each student," said Apana, who developed the Nanakuli program in the early 1990s with the support of then-school Principal Alvin Nagasako.

More than 20 students are in Apana's electronic media class, which is open to students in grades 7-12.

In the 1998-99 school year, the class produced a 30-second video public service announcement about water quality at Ulehewa Stream which won first place at the Leeward Community College In Focus Film & Video Showcase.

"The PSA was done to educate our community about what happens when you pollute a stream," Apana said. "The students came up with the story line of how overfertilized grass cuttings build up in the stream whenever there's a storm."

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