‘Aina-based Learning Thrives on Kalaepohaku

Students and Faculty team up in a hands-on approach to learning.

Dreddin Villalpando
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photo: Student Life

Students learn through culture-based presentations.

‘Aina-based Learning (ABL), a significant and new addition to the curriculum at Saint Louis School, connects every student to the roots of Kalaepohaku. ABL is emphasized at Saint Louis to provide an opportunity to learn about the environment, the history of the ‘aina and others in the community. Through this hands-on experience, students become more intertwined to the ‘aina and the Native Hawaiian culture, allowing the learning experience to become more meaningful, rigorous, and relationship-oriented.

‘Aina-based Learning classes are held every Wednesday, involving all grade levels in various cultural-based activities. During these classes, students attend informational meetings via Zoom by guest speakers or on the slopes of Kalaepohaku, learning the importance of caring for what is our “kuleana”, our responsibility, as members of the Saint Louis brotherhood.

Students are given the opportunity to work in a variety of areas around the campus which include, ”Palolo Stream, Organic Garden (‘Ahui) above the STEM building, landscaped areas surrounding campus buildings, the slope behind the rifle range and area located ‘ewa of the tennis courts,” notes Vice Principal and ABL Program Director, Tim Los Banos.

With the majority of the middle and high school students enrolled, our faculty and staff work collectively to allow each student to get the most out of the ABL course. SLS faculty and staff share the importance to “care and rehabilitation of Palolo Stream where it passes through this campus,” says Los Banos. This provides “skills and knowledge to grow food organically, sharing of the rich history of this campus and the kupuna who worked and lived here, appreciation and propagation of native species-plant as well as animal,” adds Los Banos.

In just the second quarter of the school year, the goals set by faculty have proven successful. Students are also finding this a valuable experience.“I am learning about the significance of how the land is taken care of and how we can do our part to take care of it,” notes senior Shoncin Revuelto.

This also provides a hands-on experience for students as well. “It is so important to take care of our ‘aina and protect it.” says senior Cyrus Bucsit. Bucsit also shares that the ABL course has taught him “some ancient Hawaiian legends and some significant spots along the river.”

Although ‘Aina-based Learning is primarily for students, Saint Louis faculty are learning along side their students as well. “Every member of the Saint Louis ‘ohana will experience and know the significance of Kalaepohaku: from Palolo Stream to the plantings, and soil, to the sacred locations and oral traditions that they hold,” says Los Banos.

The ABL experience is another example of how the school provides a variety of learning opportunities for its students, both in and out of the classroom. In turn, this has allowed students to recognize the many aspects which represent “the Saint Louis man.”

Through the information gained from ‘Aina-Based Learning, Los Banos hopes, “that they take those skills and wisdom to apply th

em to their adult lives as well as to pass them on to future learners.”

‘Aina-based Learning is continuing to thrive on the slopes of Kalaepohaku. In turn, the entire Saint Louis community benefits from the experience as well, allowing the entire Saint Louis ohana to appreciate all that the ‘aina has to offer.