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Monday, July 27, 2015

Blessing and Open House, July 27, 2015

Everyone worked frantically to get everything ready for this special event.  The weather was beautiful, the classrooms were ready, the floors were cleaned and mopped (again!), the audio system was ready, and the guests had arrived.  The Blessing and Open House went well, and we were proud to showcase Phase II of our $33.2 million project, the 10-classroom building.

Governor and First Lady Ige with our student greeters
The $6.6 million funding from the State was approved when Governor Ige was the State Senate Ways and Means Chairperson.  State Senator Michelle Kidani who is now the Senate Education Committee chairperson was also instrumental in getting the funding for our project.
Micah on the left served as the Master of Ceremonies for today's event. Colonel Richard Fromm spoke on behalf of US Army Garrison Hawaii and pledged their continued support to our schools. This project was a partnership between the military and our Department of Education.
Vice Principal Agnes Leinau read the message from US Senator Mazie Hirono who was unable to attend today's event.  We have a copy of her letter on our front counter in the administration building.
Deputy Superintendent Stephen Schatz represented the Hawaii Department of Education.  This was his first (hopefully not his last) visit to Hale Kula.
This photo is a little dark. Brigadier General Brito and Colonel Fromm sit with our student greeters on our Feek furniture in the learning hub. 
State Senator Kidani and Governor Ige with second grade teacher Mrs. Woods in her classroom

This afternoon, our families got to see the new classroom building for the first time during our Meet and Greet event.  There were huge smiles and excited students and parents.  They can't wait for the first day of school on Wednesday!  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wow! Lots of Progress Since I Went on Vacation

We were only gone for one week, but in that short time, there was noticeable progress! I know the workers are trying to get as much done as possible before the school year begins.  Teachers returned on Thursday, and thankfully, all the renovated rooms were completed on-time, but there's lots to do before our Meet and Greet on Monday afternoon when families are invited to see the new building.

So without further ado, here are some photos taken on Thursday and Friday when I returned from my vacation.

The exteriors of Portables 15 and 16 were painted; they look so much nicer!

They are preparing to pour the concrete for the covered play court posts.  We can't wait for this structure to be completed so our students can have physical education, rain or shine.  Additionally, we'll have a venue for school-wide assemblies.
The roofline of the Student Center is taking shape!

The grass stolons were laid out on Friday morning . . . .
. . . and then mulch was sprayed over it.  The landscapers will be spreading grass seeds on the remaining area in the front of the new classroom building.  With luck, we can have a nice grassy area for recess and PE within a few months. 
Do you know what this is? This is from a company called Feek and it's the new trend in furniture. This set is upstairs. Students can sit in the learning hub and work, read, meet in groups, etc. It's really comfortable and lightweight but durable.

This is on the bottom floor (see how the colors match with the flooring?).  We are waiting for other furniture to arrive for the learning hub which is an additional learning space for students.  We are excited to see how we can use this area to engage students in their learning.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

July 14, 2015

A short update today; I'll be leaving tonight to see my sons and grandsons on the mainland.  Yeah!

Now that the three portable classrooms and all the extra trash has been hauled away, the landscapers can work on getting the grass in.  The topsoil layer is done; maybe the grass will be planted when I return from my trip.

All of the old classrooms have now been renovated.  There are a few jobs to be completed (such as installation of the ceiling fans, finishing up the roofing, etc.) but everything should be ready by the time the teachers return next week.

Today, they lifted the huge air conditioner to its room on the second floor. They are so efficient, and the job was done in a short amount of time. I believe they are now ready to put the roof on that side of the building.

I'll update you in about 10 days!  

Saturday, July 11, 2015

July 10, 2015

In about two weeks (July 23), teachers return to work.  Students return on July 29.  There's still lots to do, but we are confident that everything will get done. This was a busy week as the painters, landscapers, roofers, masons, electricians, flooring workers, carpenters, furniture installers, welders, concrete workers, movers, and our custodians were all on campus performing different tasks on different phases of the project.

This is all that's left of Portables 12, 13 and 17. Some of the trash has already been hauled away; one bin still remained at the end of the week.

Workers installed new building signs; these are much larger, a requirement so emergency workers can easily spot the buildings.

Can you guess what these are?  I'll explain later.

The railings for the stairways were installed this week.  Notice the welder under the stairs.

Portables 10 and 11 were moved to Fort Shafter Elementary School this week.  Now we have only 3 portables remaining - 14, 15, and 16.  Portables 4 and 5 will be demolished shortly.  The Department determined that they could not be moved to another school due to their age and condition.

I love the desks and chairs in the new classroom building! Most of the furniture has been delivered and set up.  We're just waiting on a few more items.  

Pretty soon, it'll be time to start on the roof (I think).

The roofers in the foreground working on removing the old roofing from the walkways; in the background, you can see the masons working on the Student Center.

They poured concrete for the roof of the special education classroom this week.  We hope they can finish the classroom soon!

Today was a little rainy, but the landscapers were busy preparing the ground for planting. They are also spreading the topsoil over the whole area.  Next they will be planting the grass.  We can't wait to have another recess area for the students!

Now there are wooden casings around the steel beams.  These are the columns for the covered playcourt.  They will pour concrete in each of those casings then when the columns are ready, they take off the wood.  I think Leroy said the columns are still not at its maximum height yet.  The playcourt will be tall! 

Friday, July 3, 2015

July 3, 2015

We had a short work week due to the Independence Day holiday.  Happy Birthday, America!

This morning as I approached McNair Gate, I noticed that the traffic lights outside the gate were out. That is never a good sign because it indicates that electricity is out.  Sure enough, when I got to school, there was no electricity. The contractor said that most of the workers required power in order to do their job, so I worried that we would lose a day's work.  Thankfully, electricity came back on at about 8:00.  Whew! I breathed a sigh of relief.

Here's an update of what's happening this week:

Finally! Portables 12, 13, and 17 were removed and transported to Campbell High School.  We can  see the entire front of the classroom building!

The floor tiles for A-building were laid this week, and workers were applying wax today. Next week, the custodians will move the furniture and boxes back and they can clean the floors in B-building.
On Tuesday, workers poured the concrete for the walkway from the new classroom building to the basketball court.  Now, the landscaping can begin!  Lots of tilling before we can grow grass.

I was thrilled to see that the tree between the Administration building and A-building is flowering! I don't know what kind of tree this is, but I will find out from the landscapers.
The concrete walkway is dry!
Getting taller!

The front view of the library.  Workers are preparing to install the windows.
The back of the library media/student center - the walkway is completed! 

P10 and P11 were prepared to be transported next week to Fort Shafter.  After that, work on the fire lane can proceed.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's Been Two Years! July 1, 2015

Two years ago, on July 1, 2013, our construction project officially began with a groundbreaking ceremony.  We had invited important members of our State, the military, and the community to attend this momentous event, the first time any of our Hawaii schools received funding of this magnitude from the federal government - $26.6 million - with additional funding from the State of Hawaii - $6.6 million.  (View the slideshow here.)

These past two years have gone by quickly.  As I reflect on everything we've gone through, I am grateful for having had this opportunity to be the principal here during this time of construction.  I have learned so much and forged great relationships as a result:
  • To Leroy and Richard - You patiently answer my endless questions and reassure me that everything will work out.  I couldn't ask for better people at our site; you make sure the area is safe for our students and school community and try to minimize the negative impact of the construction on teaching and learning at Hale Kula. We appreciate you.
  • To Brenda and the other workers at Facilities - Putting together a plan for our school was a huge undertaking, one that was new for the Department.  We are grateful for having had the opportunity to give our input through the charrette process.  The project reflects our vision for our school.
  • To Romeo and Kanako and the design team - You took our ideas and turned them into buildings that are not only functional but pleasing to the eye.  Every morning when I turn the corner and see our buildings, I marvel that this is the school I work at.  
  • To Dale, Ryan, and the construction team - Your workers are respectful of our school community; that is so important as we reassure our parents that their children are safe despite all the construction going on. We appreciate your guidance through the RFIs, Change Orders, etc.  We are grateful for this opportunity to work with your team to make our vision a reality.
  • To Wendy, the School Liaison Office, and the US Army Garrison - This project wouldn't be happening without your input and your guidance regarding Base regulations and policies.  Communication between the Base Command and the Department has been crucial throughout this project.
  • And last but certainly not least - To the school community - We are so fortunate to be one of the first schools to qualify for the Congressional allocation.  We are the guinea pigs and are paving the way for other schools on federal property in Hawaii.  You see the big picture, the final outcome of the challenges associated with this project.  Even though many of you will not be here to see the school when everything is finished, you realize that this is something that will benefit our Hale Kula community in the future.  I thank you for your patience and understanding.
One more year to go until the project is complete!  Thank you to everyone for making this a terrific learning experience for me!