Kualapu’u Public Conversion Charter School began its school year on July 25, a week earlier than the other Hawaii public schools, with a special honor.
Kualapu’u can now celebrate being a Western Association of Schools and Colleges accredited school. Out of the 16 Hawaii charter schools that went through the WASC process, Kualapu’u was the only school that received its accreditation after the initial visit. Normally, the accreditation process takes years and involves multiple visits of the school.
What set Kualapu’u apart from other charter schools, said Principal Lydia Trinidad, was its strategic plan showing the school’s vision over the next five years. The strategic plan came out of meetings with community members, outside educators, staff, parents and former students. When the visiting committee came to Kualapu’u last school year, the members looked closely at the strategic plan and also held in-depth interviews with school staff, students and members of the school’s Local Advisory Panel.
By developing a carefully conceived strategic plan, Kualapu’u has been able to implement several new initiatives. As a public charter school, Kualapu’u has the advantage of not needing to wade through the bureaucratic layers of approval required by the Hawaii Department of Education. This has allowed Kualapu’u to open a free pre-kindergarten program and also add 55 minutes to each school day through the Extended Learning Time program. Kualapu’u is now the only school on Molokai to offer Physical Education classes every day as a result of ELT.
The current strategic plan reviewed the PE and Wellness programs within the school. The PE/Wellness Committee then came up with a new approach now being implemented. The new approach combines PE and Ike Hawaii (now called Pu’olo, which means bundle) in a way that emphasizes student fitness and Hawaiian values.
Through the school year, two school priorities will be to review the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program as well as the new Ike Hawaii program. Student outcomes and expectations will receive close scrutiny. “These are major tasks that involve consistent participation and discussion for all stakeholders,” wrote Trinidad.