Kainalu Kids: Blending History With Economics

Being successful often means rolling up one’s sleeves to work even harder.

That’s what Kainalu Elementary School sixth-graders discovered after winning first-place for two Hawaii History Day projects on April 20 at Windward Community College.


Image 1 of 2

Kainalu’s sixth-grade history experts are (from left) Hunter Baehrens, Rodney Uyehara, Justice Kaleopaa, Hannah Frick and Dawson Cadd. Photo from Irene Yamashita.

They were thrilled with the prospect of representing the state at the National History Day competition. Since then, however, they’ve been fundraising like mad to pay for the trip in June to Maryland.

“We’ve had a pupu and wine-tasting party at HASR Bistro in Chinatown, a rummage sale and a cookie sale,” said Gifted & Talented teacher Irene Yamashita, noting that “in the past, it used to be paid for.”

They also scheduled an appearance on the Perry & Price breakfast radio show, shared their history studies with the entire school, and committed to 500 hours of community service (with the help of fifth-graders) to qualify for a $5,000 Youth Leadership grant from the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation.

“Student Dawson Cadd wrote for the grant,” Yamashita pointed out. The proposal he entered on behalf of the young historians was to remove invasive species and generally clean up Kaha Park – which meant they also learned about local water-shed issues as they worked there to earn their travel money.

One project is a documentary by Cadd and RJ Uyehara on The Development of the Polio Vaccine; the other is a performance of Ho’opau Ke Kapu: Abolishing the Kapu, with Hunter Baehrens, Hannah Frick and Justice Kaleopaa.

Both history studies took first place in the state in the junior division and also won special awards – the documentary for using primary and secondary resources, and the performance for its treatment of local history.

Although they are set to fly out around June 7 for the June 9-13 contest, it’s never too late to donate to the History Day fund. For details, call Yamashita at 266-7835.

As the students themselves explained in an earlier pitch for money, National History Day is an acclaimed enrichment program that “does for history what the science fair does for science.”