Our Week

Considering we only had four days to work with after the holiday, Voyager Week featured some pretty high aspirations. As it concludes (for most of our students and faculty, at least), it’s safe to say that there’s lots to share. And at the risk of generalizing, it strikes me as a “very Island School” initiative all around—ambitious and amazing, but not without its challenges. Here’s what I mean:
Let’s go age group by age group, youngest to oldest, in summary. Our pre-Ks, who go on adventures of all kinds, did a little planting in the school garden and got to see their 5th grade friends in a play, while mostly staying or their familiar schedule. The elementary grade students, regular field-trippers throughout the year, still had a range of special programs. They learned about honus and created some art on the subject, they learned about navigation for voyaging canoes, they ventured to ‘Alekoko fish ponds, to they heard from an expert in fish identification, and they cooked up a storm—musubi, tacos, ice cream—in the face of actual storms across the island that kept them out of planned water events.
Our 5th graders were prepping, and then presenting, an impressive Winnie the Pooh rendition in the Main Hall, owning the stage. Performances are scheduled at 7pm for the next two nights and 4pm on Sunday. And you are more than welcome to attend. Mahalo to the newspaper for highlighting the event.
The middle schoolers hosted a mystifying magician, guest of our own faculty resident magician Matthew Singer, who taught tricks for days. And they made piñatas, they went on hikes, they got to the bird sanctuary, they did creative writing, made videos, they worked in a lo’i, and they helped take care of the campus, gardens included, as well as some beaches. They also hosted students from another school in Lihue, then visited a school in Kekaha, for some friendly athletic competition. They needed to be nimble and creative, making schedule shifts in response to every day’s rain totals, shifting people and transportation, in a feat of organizational skill.
Then there’s the high school version of this experiential education week. Choices and programs went in all directions. On campus, we had cooks learning the cuisines of many cultures in our chem lab, we had woodworkers making birdhouses of multiple designs in the senior hangout area, we had young women learning self-defense, and maybe most lastingly, a group of artists who painted a gorgeous mural of another group of voyagers on the inside wall of Weinberg gym, while the rain pelted down outside. You gotta come see. Hoping they do more. Heartwarming to me was seeing the help offered by high schoolers for the 5th grade play—some really important role modeling and difference making.
Then there were all the “design your own options” on island and far away. Seemed like a lot of college visiting, a bunch of job shadowing, and a chance to pursue special interests, including the volleyball guys getting to O’ahu to play, as did the group from the Shanti Alliance for a conference at Punahou. And the intrepid bunch who went to Costa Rica on an eco-tour (which may have included time to surf), returning early next week. To be honest, it was almost too much to keep track of.
Which brings up the question of whether all this work is worth it. Our limited bus capacity was stretched to the limit, and beyond. A number of faculty were maxed out, while others were not, all at the tail end of an academic quarter. And how were we supposed to pay for all these excursions? The answer is, as is often the case, well, the best we can. Having essentially everyone on campus stop and go exploring is a very cool concept and a great chance to discover interests that can determine big choices later in life. Experiential learning on Kaua’i would be a dream for most schools—how could we not?
The whole program is only a few years old, and it was significantly compromised by COVID. But we (more truthfully, they) made it happen. And soon we’ll convene a session to take stock of the highs and lows, the pros and cons, in anticipation of next year being even better. It takes resources, in the form of people and time and dollars, to do this right—as is the case with all we do. Among the questions to address is whether we all voyage on the same week, whether certain grades should expect certain activities, and in the case of our oldest students, how personalized can/should these adventures be?
For the moment though, let’s appreciate everything that was just packed into these few days and let’s celebrate the change of pace. A wise person once urged me to not let school get in the way of my education. Voyager Week seems like a perfect case in point.
Still learning as I go,
ps- Thanks on two fronts—first for getting the re-enrollment commitments completed- we are well past 90% of returning students confirmed as we turn attention to applications from prospective families. And thanks in advance for helping steer prospective faculty and staff members toward open positions at school—your recommendations can make great things possible here.