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David Lassner with Ala Wai Elementary School students
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University of Hawaiʻi President and UH Mānoa Interim Chancellor David Lassner stopped by Ala Wai Elementary School on May 2 to hear 4th grade students’ ideas about how to make the Ala Wai Canal Awesome. They also presented other sustainability-themed projects in a science fair format.

“They really just want to help our community, help the world, and so I think that their projects show that,” said Ala Wai Elementary School teacher Jennifer Hudson.

“Usually, I would just look at the Ala Wai Canal and I would think it is dirty and I would never think to fix it. But we have a whole prototype in how we could fix it, so I feel really, really good,” said Ala Wai Elementary 4th grader Higen Kila.

The students appreciated the fact that the president of Hawaiʻi’s 10-campus university system took the time to visit and listen.

“I was nervous because I wasn’t sure what he was going to say but I was excited because we were the only class that got to meet him,” said Ala Wai Elementary 4th grader Irielove Aioletuna.

“They don’t get these opportunities, I don’t think most children do, so it was really neat for them to be a part of something so special,” said Hudson.

Lassner was very impressed with the student presentations. ’The work was creative and inspiring. They applied the scientific method and brought local and cultural practices together.’

Lassner was equally impressed with the learning environment at Ala Wai Elementary where students work in teams and collaborate on ideas and solutions. “The teacher is amazing in creating this opportunity for them and the school in enabling this kind creative group approach to real world problem solving.”

Hudson said that the approach gives students a chance to speak up and to share what they have to say. “It gives them that voice.”

David Lassner with Ala Wai Elementary School students

Proud UH alum

Hudson is a 2012 graduate of the UH Mānoa College of Education. She credits UH for preparing her for the classroom.

“I had an awesome cohort coordinator, Rosella Balinbin, who really encouraged us and inspired us. She also had a similar setting to the group work and collaboration between me and my peers,” said Hudson.

After seeing a UH alum and the amazing work of the students she inspires and motivates every day, Lassner was left with one conclusion—“The future is bright.”

Go the the UH Flickr site for more photos from the visit.

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