Anna Winnicki, who just graduated from Punahou School, has been a regular volunteer for the after-school program at Kauluwela Elementary School on Aala Street.
Three years ago, she started a ukulele club for students in grades 1-4 who take part in the state A+ program.
In fact, her ukulele club is so popular, Kauluwela A+ program coordinator Zanisha Ogwaro has asked her to extend her class into the summer.
“What I do is, twice a week, I come and gather the students,” says Winnicki, who has been attending Punahou since kindergarten. “We learn not only ukulele, but also Hawaiian culture and language.”
In addition to Hawaiian culture, Winnicki teaches her students about public speaking. Her passion is to share and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture and language with others.
Last month, Winnicki’s students performed for an all-school assembly. “The purpose of the performance is to improve the students’ self-confidence and how they feel about themselves,” she says. “I want them to be able to speak with poise and confidence.
“For me, putting on these kinds of events makes me feel proud of my group and how far we’ve come.”
In addition to her work with the ukulele club, Winnicki has been a Luke Leader for Punahou’s Luke Center for Public Service, which is geared toward bridging the needs of the community with Punahou students.
Winnicki has been a Luke Leader since sixth grade, and started by helping out with the school’s homework club.
The biggest influence of her volunteerism stems from Luke Center, and she explains that the center taught her that it’s her duty as a citizen to participate in service learning.
In addition to Luke Center, Winnicki’s family has had a big role in her outlook on life and encouraged her to participate in community service and volunteer.
“These kids are teaching me because now I know how to teach others,” Winnicki says. “Working together is fulfilling. It shows working together as a community can benefit everyone.
“This cycle of helping each other is the only way for society to sustain itself.”
Winnicki thinks this process is an amazing idea, and believes the model should be replicated on a global scale.
As she looks to possibly attend California Institute of Technology and moves on to what her future has in store, Winnicki’s twin brothers John and Andrew are poised to take over the program next year.