HONOLULU (KHON2) — As many teachers and parents on Maui’s west side continue their fight to keep keiki together in school, they celebrate two students who won’t be returning to school.
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A new memorial adorns Kelawea Mauka Makai Park, where keiki used to play T-ball and eat shave ice.
“Right now, we’re all broken and we have pieces we need to heal. All of that inside, put it together so we can function as one,” Kiley Adolpho, a teacher at Nahienaena Elementary School told KHON2.
The ahu was built by community leaders and teachers.
“The stone represents the foundation of our community, the children, the kupuna, as you already know the most vulnerable but precious in the Hawaiian culture,” Adolpho said.
It was a cathartic experience coming together, sweating, laughing, crying and gathering around loads of food as locals do.
“This is just a continuing effort and I really believe that this is the galvanizing of the world being able to see what aloha really is, in action,” said Lahaina community leader, Kuuleialoha Palakiko.
Adolpho fears some kupuna and keiki stayed inside during the fire because that’s where they felt safe.
That’s what apparently happened to 15-year-old Kenyero Fuentes who is celebrated at the ahu, a park he used to frequent.
Nahienaena Elementary student, 7-year-old Tony Tone, is also celebrated at the park.
“This is the park that the children would come. They’d come and play, they’d sit and talk,” said Adolpho. “There’s a guy they call the shave ice man and he’d park over there and they’d come and buy dollar or two shave ice and they’d spend their time there, what better place?”
To find a better place, Palakiko looks to the future.
“You’re going to see this come back in a glory that we’ve never even dreamed of. We were okay with the status quo of what Lahaina was. Now, we’re going to see what Lahaina is going to be.”
As they mourn their students, these teachers want the DOE to keep the West Maui students together.