Elementary school students’ cleanup project breathes life into Kaewai stream

Video of Story here: https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/video/2019/06/01/elementary-school-students-cleanup-project-breathes-life-into-kaewai-stream/

hawaiinewsnow.com — By Jim Mendoza | May 31, 2019 at 3:38 PM HST

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – Not that long ago, the stream that runs alongside Kaewai Elementary School was an overgrown eyesore.

“We had California grass that was taller than me, maybe as tall as the banana trees,” Hawaiian Studies teacher Faith Aiu said.  The stream is coming back to life.

Under Aiu’s guidance the school’s third-, fourth- and fifth-graders cleared Kaewai stream of castoff junk, litter and weeds.

“As we go through each section we start digging it by hand.That way we can get the root out as well as the other invasive weeds that are growing,” Aiu said.

The students have been working on the cleanup and restoration of Kaewai stream for the past three years. Aiu estimates that more than 100 kids have pitched in as part of the Kaewai Stream Team.

“It’s very awesome because a lot of people work together and collaborate,” fifth-grader Rhodnie Rebolios said.

“We planted a lot of native plants such as ti leaf and banana,” Junaryn Mensior said.

Adults helped out including the school’s custodian and Alan Kumalae and his Kamehemeha Schools Alumni class of 1969.

The stream stands between the school and Kumalae’s home.

“Normally, kupuna teach kids,” he said. “In this situation, kids inspired kupuna to get involved in the community.”

Classroom lessons accompanied the field work. The students learned to build retaining walls out of rocks they pulled from the stream bed.

“The steps that the keiki have built was donated, the cement blocks that they use. With pallets that the school gets from deliveries we’ve created little gardens,” Aiu said.

Sadly, vandals damaged some of the plants. With summer break coming the kids hope neighbors keep an eye on Kaewai stream so all their hard work doesn’t got to waste.

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