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Sacred Hearts fifth-graders visit historic sites on Oahu

By Staff | May 14, 2015

The Sacred Hearts School fifth-graders toured Iolani Palace and nearby Kawaiahao Church, the first Christian church on Oahu.

LAHAINA – The fabulous fifth grade class at Sacred Hearts School just returned from a long-awaited overnight trip to Oahu with glowing reviews.

We began our jam-packed, two-day trip at the Honolulu Zoo, where we learned about various animals and their habitats, and even enjoyed an impromptu circus performance by an elephant that traveled all the way from India!

After competing for lunch with some sneaky peacocks, we headed to the Judiciary Center, where the entire class participated in a mock trial – complete with a judge, jury and a guilty verdict for one of our own!

The parent chaperones, Susan Hendricks (principal) and myself, served on the jury and watched the entire trial performed by the students. It was an unforgettable moment for us all, affording the children the chance to see our legal system and democracy in action.

Seeking to capitalize on every moment of the day and the opportunity of location, we proceeded across the street to Iolani Palace, where the students paid their respects in the form of Oli Aloha (a welcoming chant) and toured the grounds in admirable reverence. Wendy Coon was on-hand to accurately narrate the palace grounds and its elegant history. She also led the kids nearby to the beautifully ornate Kawaiahao Church, the first Christian church on Oahu.

From there, it was time for the much-anticipated visit and sleepover at the Bishop Museum. Upon arrival, we were met by the education director and led to the planetarium for an evening presentation of “The Transit of Venus,” and we explored the night sky through their state-of-the-art telescope. It seemed at times like the planets and stars were within arms’ reach and taking us on a tour by hand. It was truly spectacular!

After the presentation, it was time for dinner: PIZZA!!! The kids had their fill and were more than anxious for the grand finale: a private, ALL ACCESS pass to the Bishop Museum for some culture, hands-on-learning and a pretty intense scavenger hunt.

It was eerily fascinating at times to be in the Hawaiian Hall with all of the rich history, artifacts and everything right before our eyes. It was beyond special to experience this in the quiet of the night without the crowds or any interruptions.

Finally it was time to tuck into our pajamas and sleeping bags, find a cozy spot – under the volcano (or up in the “treehouse” next to the acrylic, truck-sized cockroach) – and put all the energy on pause until morning. But first, we had to play a very complex game of Hide-n-Go-Seek Tag in the “Dinosaurs Unleashed” exhibit. The animatronic beasts looked down in confusion as we put on dinosaur costumes and ran about the exhibit. The T-Rex succeeded in scaring some unsuspecting fifth-graders with his ferocious growl and creepy, tiny hands.

Pearl Harbor was the focus of Friday, and the students had another full day planned. We began by paying our respects at the Arizona Memorial. We were led onto the submerged submarine in heavy-hearted silence. Our eyes gazed upon the wall of names, all too familiar at times, mirroring vast cultures and nationalities. Looking into the water, the constant oil and petroleum leaking and forming shapely apparitions really sent the message home – we were standing on the burial site of so many lives that needlessly perished.

As a special honor of our visit, and being the most well-behaved school group in the history of Pearl Harbor tours (per our guide, Johanna), the students were invited to become Junior Park Rangers and register with the Arizona. We have since followed up on our visit by registering and being able to view a live underwater dive of the Arizona that took place shortly after our visit. It was pretty awesome.

After touring the museums and grounds of Pearl Harbor, we got to board the U.S.S. Bowfin Submarine and take a guided tour of every nook of this grand structure. It was pretty cool to see the actual torpedoes, engine room and living quarters of the Navy. It is an engineering marvel that continues to shape our naval and military prowess today.

Lastly, we had a little time to shop, play and explore, and we took full advantage of this opportunity. We even witnessed a Navy officer’s Honorable Discharge Ceremony and heard him humorously celebrate as he said, “I am free!” This theme definitely rang true throughout the day, as we were engulfed with American pride and thankfulness to God and all those heroes who lost their lives to ensure our freedoms.

Finally, we headed to the airport, where we got a well-deserved Starbucks treat, enjoyed snacks and awaited our departure. We are very grateful to our wonderful tour guides (Connie, David, Michael, Jason and Johanna). We are especially grateful to Mrs. Hendricks, Ms. Beth and Mrs. Devane for making this entire experience happen. We also offer our most sincere gratitude to our parent chaperones (Cheyenne Clark, Wendy Coon, Cyndi Cowan, Joe Devane, Lisa Donlon, Brianda Gonzalez and Denton Johnson), who worked tirelessly to keep us safe and happy.