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Hawaiian Language Immersion Program open to all West Side keiki

By Staff | Apr 2, 2015


LAHAINA – Kindergarten public school registration for the Kula Kaipuni O Maui ma Nahi’ena’ena 2015-16 school year is underway.

The Hawaiian Language Immersion Program (HLIP) is the path less traveled but offers the youth of West Maui a treasured opportunity.

“We want to remind people that we’re here,” Kumu Liko Rogers commented.

Kula Kaiapuni O Maui ma Nahi’ena’ena, located on the Princess Nahi’ena’ena Elementary School campus, is open to all West Side youth regardless of ethnicity or district location.

Currently, there are 67 students enrolled in the immersion program with students in grades K-5. Starting next school year, the program will continue through seventh grade at Lahaina Intermediate School.

Ka Papahana Kaiapuni Hawaii (Hawaiian Language Immersion Program) was established by the state Department of Education in 1987 and at Princess Nahi’ena’ena in 2000.

Its mission is lofty: “To achieve quality education based on knowledge of Hawaiian language and culture as the foundation upon which individuals become culturally responsive, sensitive and productive adults who contribute significantly to all levels of Hawaii’s community and the world.”

Language immersion is a method of teaching. Regular school curriculum is taught through the medium of the second language. As students are immersed in the second language, they become fluent speakers at an early age.

Culturally, the benefits are immense.

“Children, who are born and raised here in Hawaii, for them to know the Hawaiian culture and Hawaiian language is to have a sense of identity. For Hawaiians, it helps in identifying themselves with their people, of course. For all children, it helps them have a sense of place and sense of who they really are and where they are from, the culture and the language. It gives a different perspective on life,” Kumu Liko Rogers said.

Brandon and Tiara Ueki have three children enrolled in the program. Tiara is the president of the parent group, Na Leo Kalele.

“We had heard about the Hawaiian Immersion Program from my dad. We were a little hesitant at the beginning, just because it was strictly olelo (Hawaiian language). After thinking about it, we felt that it was not only important for them to learn the culture through language, but it was our responsibility to be able to give them that opportunity,” Tiara said.

“We believe this program benefits our children, because they can learn who they are and where they come from,” she added.

Parents can enroll their keiki in the HLIP between now and the commencement of the 2015-16 school year in the fall.

Office hours at Princess Nahi’ena’ena Elementary School are from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Enrollment is for students born between the months of August 2009 to July 31, 2010.

Parents should bring to registration the student’s birth certificate and TB test results. For more information, call Princess Nahi’ena’ena Elementary School at 662-4020.