LAHAINA - In 2007, Sacred Hearts Middle School teacher Mary Anna Waldrop led her students on a charge to protect Honolua Bay and Lipoa Point.
The West Side Catholic school posse joined forces with the Save Honolua Coalition and other students from across the island at the County Council Chambers in Wailuku to urge the allocation of funds to buy lands around the bay and the point. Their support helped to corral $1 million for the future acquisition of this community treasure.
Fast forward five years; Waldrop is celebrating a landmark, 60-year birthday.
Students in Sacred Hearts Middle School teacher Mary Anna Waldrop’s class recently received ukuleles donated by Wayne Cochran.
"I went to Maui Surfboards to invite friends Wayne (Wayno) Cochran and his wife, West Maui Councilwoman Elle Cochran, to my birthday party," she told her students and the Lahaina News.
She was stunned when Wayno made an offer she couldn't refuse.
"I want to do something for your kids," Wayno told her. "I want to do something for your school, to thank you for being a part of, from the beginning, the Save Honolua Coalition and for taking your students, getting them involved at the County Council.
"So I've decided to give you some ukuleles. How many do you want?" he asked her in his signature Wayno laid-back style.
"And he gave us 15 ukuleles," she said, just like that.
"I wanted them involved, because I was passionate about saving Honolua. I was passionate about students getting involved in government, and so that's how it happened. I never knew that I was going to get 15 ukuleles back," she added.
Cochran has owned Maui Surfboards since 1966. He's an instructor at Casco's Taekwon-Do at Lahaina Civic Center, lives in Honolua Valley and was one of the cofounders of Save Honolua Coalition.
He has a track record of giving back.
At his store across from the Kaanapali North Beach subdivision, "We give $2 every time we rent a snorkel. We gave (the proceeds) to the reef fund for a couple of years and then gave to the University of Hawaii," he said.
"We're so small, and we only gave a couple of thousand. I thought better to just donate ukuleles," he commented.
"We gave 24 to Lori Koyama up at the (Lahaina) intermediate school, so they could have a ukulele club last year.
"Then we gave 15 to Mary Anna," he remarked.
Wayno may be casual about his donations, but Waldrop and her students are not.
Max Easler is a seventh-grader at Sacred Hearts.
"I think that the person who donated these is very generous, and I think it's great that he remembered a good deed that Mrs. Waldrop and her class did five years ago and thanked us for it by giving us these ukuleles today," he said.
Fellow student "JP" (James Preston) agreed with Easler.
"I think these will benefit the school in the long run, because once we can learn how to play them, we can teach the lower grades. If we're proactive about it, eventually we'll have everybody playing in a band," JP added.
Erin Tsue has the highest respect for Cochran.
"He's my Taekwon-Do teacher," she commented.
The gift of music has taught her "how music can connect everyone. My cousins in Korea - they play ukulele, too. It can connect us everywhere around the world," she said.
Waldrop considers the lesson well learned.
"The little gestures that we do are timeless. We never know where our gesture is going to go or take us," the gifted teacher surmised.