Wearing a lei made by the students, Linda Barrington talks to the journalism class at Kamehameha Schools, Maui, in Pukalani.

By Linda Barrington
JEA Mentor Committee co-chair
Wisconsin mentor

Aloha, my friends.

Hawai‘i is more than hula, leis and luaus. The people are multicultural with pride in Hawai‘ian heritage and history. Nowhere is this more evident than at Kamehameha Schools on Maui. I visited their campus in Pukalani, part way up slope of Mount Haleakala, to teach a class of journalism students about writing for the Web.

The visit to the school happened because I met Karin Swanson, Hawaii JEA director, at the Journalism Education Association/ National Scholastic Press Association convention in Anaheim in April 2011. I told Karin I was willing to do workshops or presentations for advisers or students on Maui in January 2012, when I’d be vacationing there between semesters.

She put me in touch with Kye Haina, adviser at Kamehameha Schools, Maui. Kye said she would be doing a unit on Writing for the Web and asked if I could come to her class.

Students warmly welcomed me with a gift package and a green lei they’d woven from vines. On the mainland we greet new acquaintances with a handshake, but it Hawai‘i, they do it with a hug and a big smile.

The 10 juniors and seniors in this class are part of Kamehameha’s Media Academy.  The students produce a quarterly 48-page newsmagazine, Ka Leo o Nä Koa, and maintain a website, www.kaleoonakoa.org.  Their newspaper and website cover campus and community news through stories, columns, photos and videos.

Kye Haina and her combined class of beginning and advanced journalism students display the shaka gesture. Hawai'ian locals use this sign as a greeting to convey a welcoming aloha spirit. Photo by Linda Barrington

In my presentation I talked about using their website for breaking news, sports updates, developing stories and blogs. I also included writing headlines for the Web.

Their editorial policy is a strong one, adapted from JEA’s Model High School Student Media Editorial policy with the JEA Press Rights Commission cited as a source. Very impressive.

Journalism students here have a proud heritage of publishing. Maui had the first printing press in America west of the Rocky Mountains.

The Maui campus of Kamehameha Schools is new, beautiful and sprawling with a panoramic view of central Maui:  the ocean on either side and the West Maui mountains beyond the sugar fields.

A quick tour of the campus included a visit to a special room in the library building devoted to Hawai‘iana. Historians and researchers use the resources, which are available to the public. White gloves are provided so no oils from your hands can damage the books and other precious documents. I was thrilled to see a first edition history of Hawaii by Queen Liliuokalani, a hero of mine since childhood.

"Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen" is more than a history of Hawaii. It is the biography of Hawaii's last monarch, Liliuokalani, as well as the story of the United States' overthrow of the kingdom of Hawaii. This first edition is stored in the library at Kamehameha Schools in Pukalani, Maui.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Hawai‘i, jump on it. The weather, even in the winter, is befitting of paradise, in the 80s every day with sunshine, warm trade winds, puffy white clouds and brilliant sunsets. You’ll learn more Hawai‘ian words besides lei, luau and aloha, like mahalo (thank you), ono (delicious), wahine (woman), kane (man) and honu (turtle). You can learn to surf, snorkel and boogie board. You can visit an active volcano on the Big Island; tour Pearl Harbor, Waikiki and the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu; and take the long and winding road to Hana on Maui.  There’s something here for everyone. Especially relaxing. I’m starting to sound like a travel brochure.

Aloha, my friends.  I’ll be back on Maui next January when I will make another visit to Kamehameha Schools.

[Editor’s note: Linda Barrington is a JEA mentor in Wisconsin as well as being co-chair of the JEA Mentor Committee. While Linda was visiting Hawai’i, the temperatures were from a low of 64 to a high of 82. During that time back in her home state of Wisconsin, the  temperatures were from 8 to a high of 26.]