Giving back feels so good


POSTED: Monday, November 10, 2008

Damien seniors showed their commitment to the community on Oct. 15 by taking part in two service projects at Palama Settlement and along Kohou Street near campus.






Damien Ke Ali'i


Faculty advisers
Mariel Downes and
Celia Downes


Andrew Hee


1401 Houghtailing St.
Honolulu, HI 96817






Bernard Ho


Viriliter Age, “;Act Manfully”;



While the rest of the school was taking national exams like the PSAT and ACT, the seniors were split into two groups to work in their assigned areas. Since there were no tests that benefited the seniors, the free day was a perfect opportunity for them to work in the community.

One group of about 57 seniors walked over to Palama Settlement, where they smoothed out mounds of dirt. They covered potholes and the area around the football field, spreading the dirt over 100 yards. Even the teachers got involved, and by the end of the project everyone came out dirty and sweaty. The group did such a good job that Palama Settlement contacted the school immediately afterward to say how well the project went.

The second group, with about 50 seniors, stayed at Damien and was guided by the maintenance crew to its assignments. Students painted over the wall fronting Kohou Street to cover the graffiti; they also cleared up the bulky trash behind the Christian Brothers' residence and chopped and trimmed the trees and bushes.

The projects were planned by English teacher Mariel Downes, who came up with the idea and got the other teachers involved. It was designed to set an example for the rest of the student body. Though she initially had trouble finding a place that could accommodate all the seniors, Palama Settlement was eventually chosen as one of the service project areas. Damien was selected as the other location because school President Bernard Ho wanted some students to help out and give back to the school.

“;The Damien community has given a lot to us and it is only right for us to give back to the community and to the school,”; said senior Brady Momoki.

The day started off with the seniors receiving a specially designed shirt in homeroom that they wore throughout the day.

The seniors then met in the cafeteria, where religion teacher Brandon Elefante held a quick prayer service and Principal Michael Weaver offered a few words of advice.

They were then split into their groups and sent off to their service projects. The seniors ended their day about two and a half hours later with a meal provided by the school.

Senior Matthew Masterson said, “;It's better because we have no school, so we should help society. Not only that, it was fun working with my friends.”;

“;It was the perfect opportunity for the seniors,”; Downes said.

The project was intended to get students more involved with the community.

“;It is great because it gives direction and gives future students something to do on this (free) day,”; Elefante said.

Service projects have been planned before, more than a decade ago, but then were discontinued. While it is not clear why they stopped, they are expected to become an annual event following the success of this year's activities. The projects may also expand beyond testing days to specific days throughout the year, and other grade levels may also get involved.