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Students plant an on-campus legacy at historic Lahainaluna High School

By BY LOUISE ROCKETT - | Nov 13, 2020

A group of students, alumni, teachers, conservationists and extended family members participated in ReTree Hawaii’s “Statewide Tree Planting Day in Hawaii” on Oct. 30 at Lahainaluna High School. Native trees and plants were planted around the historic campus.

LAHAINA — In partnership with ReTree Hawaii, Gov. David Ige declared Oct. 30 “Statewide Tree Planting Day in Hawaii.”

It didn’t take long for the environmental conservation crusade to branch out, with 31 sites on Maui, four on the Big Island, three on Oahu, two on Molokai and one on Kauai joining the campaign.

ReTree Hawaii (https://retree-hawaii.org) is passionate about the vital importance of its mission to replant native growth.

Trees offer more resilience to climate change.

Trees are our best means of sequestering (absorbing) the excess greenhouse gases emitted by our fossil fuel-powered plants, ground vehicles, ships and planes.

Trees provide shade and cool the ground and air around us.

Trees bind and improve the soil, preventing runoff that damages our coral reefs.

Native trees provide habitat for our endangered native insects, birds, bats and other animals.

Lahainaluna High School was one of 48 sites state-wide benefitting from the Oct. 30 initiative.

“Lahainaluna’s Earth Stewardship Club, Hui Ho’okuleana Honua, in conjunction with ReTree Hawaii, hosted the planting of 25 ‘Iliahi (sandalwood) trees all around campus along with their companion plants, a’a’li’i and akia,” event Coordinator Kailani Ross announced.

“We also planted five Naio trees so far and plan to plant more. Naio wood is used in the building of wa’a (canoes) and hale kahiko, (traditional) Hawaiian homes,” she added.

Kumu Kailani coordinated planting efforts on the school grounds from the cafeteria, Boarders’ Field to the roundabout area.

An alumni from the Class of 1980, she teaches Hawaiian History and Participation in a Democracy. Kumu Kailani is the advisor to the Lahainaluna Earth Stewardship Club.

There were 25 participants, an eclectic mix of students, alumni, teachers, conservationists and extended family members.

In the morning, students Alicia Gilmore and Molly Tupou each planted an ‘Iliahi with its companion Akia in front of the school cafeteria.

After planting what both young women considered their on-campus legacy, a traditional prayer was chanted. Their kuleana did not end here, however — they will steward their plants throughout the school year, watering and caring for the sprigs until strong.

“I wanted to do this,” Gilmore advised, “because when I go to college on the Mainland, I am not going to live here anymore. It is too expensive. I want something to stay to show that I was on this island. I want to come back and see the tree.”

At the Boarders’ Field, a team from Rebel Hawaii (https://www.rebelhawaii.org/team) was busy planting one of the graduation stages.

They are action-oriented, forthright and up-front.

“We started Rebel Hawaii in summer 2019. We all live on Maui. We all have a common love and respect for Hawaii. ‘Aina comes first before ourselves; and, having that relationship with our place makes us motivated to make change, leave it better.

At the planting, the ladies told the Lahaina News of their common goal: “We want to inspire people our age and younger kids that it’s cool to do this kind of stuff… Set a path for the future…. Teach them how to take care and not destroy it.”

Kumu Kailani recognized the help of Temporary Acting Principal Jeri Dean, Keith Ideoka, Coach Watson Jr., Taumalelei and CJ Casco for all of the logistical preparation work.

“By replanting native plants and controlling the spread of invasive species, we can reforest these dry slopes. Furthermore, we will have the plant material needed to make the clothing, mats, canoes and homes, etc., that were simply part of everyday life for those surviving here for centuries, before progress reached these shores. We now know better balance for life. Let’s restore the forest, let it thrive again,” she said.