Maryknoll School celebrated its commitment to care for the earth with a special ceremony Thursday.

Pwo navigator Nainoa Thompson helped school officials and students plant a young tulipwood tree on campus in the name of Malama Honua (care for the earth), Hokulea’s worldwide voyage.

The planting was part of the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Propagate Peace Project, which aims to plant one million trees around the world to commemorate the historic voyage.

“We recognize that we live on an island and we have more water around us than land, and both need to be carefully watched, especially in an urban school like Maryknoll. Every small place here needs to be green,” said Perry Martin, Maryknoll School president. “We want to be the first and the leaders of really the first million trees that go in.”

Thompson admits the school’s dedication caught him off-guard.

“I’m just humbled,” he said. “The worldwide voyage was dangerous to do. It was a very difficult thing to do, and we only left with the belief that we had a chance that the outcome of the voyage would outweigh the risk and the cost. Today is the kind of day that strengthens me, because I hear the words from the young and the leadership saying that the voyage mattered, so I wasn’t prepared for that today.”

Thompson is also being honored with Maryknoll’s 2018 Kekumano Award, which recognizes leaders for their selfless contributions to society.

He will officially receive the award at a special dinner in February.