Laulima: Maemae Elementary School giving tradition continues during pandemic


HONOLULU (KHON2) — This challenging year was no match for the giving spirit at an elementary school in the Liliha-Nuuanu area.

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At the start of the school year, when all students were distance learning, their annual Laulima drive and assembly was in jeopardy.

But then the students had a say about it.

“We had a student council meeting and people voted whether or not we should go forward with this idea,” said Ileana Aquirre, 5th grader/Student Council President. “Pretty much everyone voted yes.”

This may be a far cry from Laulima assemblies in years past.

“This year we can’t have an actual assembly where all the students come at the same time,” said Aquirre.

But adapting, persevering, safety, and enjoying in smaller groups are lessons too.

This year instead, the Laulima Assembly is class by class for kindergarten and first grade, plus second, third and fifth graders are on a hybrid schedule.

But all fourth graders and 130 students are doing distance learning for the year.

“We filmed the performance so the students who aren’t here,” said Lauren Nomura, Ma’ema’e Elementary School Counselor. “They can still watch. The families can watch the live stream performance of the music and the festivities here for Laulima.”

While those at home could drive by and drop-off Laulima donations, in-school students lined up and dropped off new unwrapped toys and toiletries for Laulima to distribute to children and families in need.

In past years, the whole class would go shopping together at a store.

Though they couldn’t this year, many students kept the tradition of earning money to buy gifts by doing chores.

“We have a lot more donations this year,” Aquirre said. “We need more generosity this year because especially in a year like this because there might be some parents who lost their jobs during this COVID-19 pandemic.”

“I think we all came to the agreement that especially this year there’s so many families and people in need that we thought it was important that we still have something for Laulima,” said Nomura. “Give our students a chance to give back to the community, be community contributors and just embody the true spirit of the holidays which is the spirit of giving.”

Bagsful meant three carloads full from children for children who’ve never even met.

“Whenever I see someone who doesn’t have something that I might have, it makes me feel really bad,” said Aquirre. “So I feel great just being able to help this way.”

“I know times are hard right now and everyone is just trying to hang tough,” said Nomura. “We just want to thank our community and our students and our families just for being so giving and kind and generous this year.”

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