In her only scheduled stop on Molokai, U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono visited Molokai Middle School today as part of her continuing effort to champion Hawaii’s voice in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Hirono arrived at MMS shortly after 1 p.m. with the intent of seeing the school’s gardening program and its accomplishments in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), according to school Principal Gary Davidson.
“We put all our best people on this,” said Davidson. Student council representatives led Hirono on a guided tour of the school, including several STEM presentations.
During the tour, Hirono asked about the various garden beds and greenhouses throughout the campus. The garden beds and greenhouse, as well as the recently-built school halau, were established through many partnerships that MMS has formed with the larger community, according to Kelly Kawa’a Richardson, the school’s registrar and student activities coordinator, who helped organize the Hirono visit.
One of those partnerships that has just taken shape this year at MMS is with Sust’ainable Molokai, a local non-profit that created the Molokai School Garden Network. This network, supported by the Foodcorps program, now includes Molokai High School and Maunaloa Elementary School as well as MMS.
Also playing an important role in the development of the student gardens and STEM programs are the many teachers who have written grants, added Richardson. She also mentioned that teachers at the school have exposed students to STEM career opportunities during field trips.
At the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program, Hirono learned about student efforts to clean the shoreline debris from Mo’omomi Beach on the north shore. Out of the rubbish, students made collages with the message “malama ‘aina” and “malama kai” written with the opala. Hirono also watched a student-made video explaining the project.
Students then sung the mele “E Hi’ilei” for Hirono so she could hear the performance they will give at the Na Mele competition for Maui County on Thursday.
Kumu Kaeo Kawa’a showed Hirono the robotics projects of students. Teacher Laree Mowat shared the popsicle stick bridges students built for engineering competitions.
During the tour, Hirono took the time to ask students questions about the school, their education and the issues that impact Molokai.
Hirono continues her state tour tomorrow at a meeting with Juvenile Diabetes Foundation of Hawaii at the Prince Kuhio Federal Building in Honolulu and then visits Kaimuki High School.
On Wednesday she will be on Maui for Haleakala National Park’s cultural brochure roll out. Then she goes to meet with DREAM Act students at the Maui Economic Opportunity offices in Wailuku.
On Friday, Hirono travels to the Big Island to visit Na Wai Ola Charter School in Mountain View. This will be followed by a visit to Children’s Justice Center of East Hawaii’s annual Holiday Open House in Hilo.
The week culminates Saturday morning at the 72nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day commemoration at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center in Honolulu.