The last 15 months have been interesting when it comes to planning school events. As the mainland restrictions seem to ease, restrictions here in Hawaii are still in place, giving our students leaders new challenges to deal with.
This summer, Associated Students of Hawaiian Mission Academy (ASHMA) had a great challenge before them. Could they bring back Ho’okui? Ho’okui is the retreat that is held at the beginning of the school year at Camp Waianae on the west side of O’ahu.
Ho’okui is a newer HMA tradition, originally starting in the fall of 2012, under then-ASHMA President, JJ Reynolds. The main purpose of the retreat is found in the name of the event, Ho’okui, which means “to join together.” HMA had always held a retreat called Camp Erdman in the middle of year. Why not have a retreat at the beginning of the year? This way classes, new students, and faculty could come together to start out the new school year as one—together.
During the summer, ASHMA started to plan the event, even though future restrictions were unsure and unknowable. Led by the social vice president, junior Allie Clapp, ASHMA was able to put together a schedule while also keeping in mind the current local requirements for events.
Three days before the retreat, new restrictions were added by the city and county. With these added restrictions, the possibility of bringing back Ho’okui looked bleak. Ardent prayers were offered by the staff and students—and after checking the new restrictions, it was determined that schools were exempt from the new order as long as the activities met with the school curriculum.
Being together as God’s ‘ohana is one of the foundations of Hawaiian Mission Academy (HMA); therefore, it’s a part of the curriculum. The retreat went forward and students were able to enjoy a wide range of activities, including a long relay race, color war, slip and slide kick ball, night basketball, and spiritual messages from Pastor Jaime Vargas of Kaua’i.
Over the three days of this year’s Ho’okui, you could tell that the event was something that the students and staff were happy to welcome back. After not having Ho’okui last year, the togetherness and bonding returned, ushering in a great start to the school year. The past 15 months of uncertainty have brought challenges, but participants could tell that this Ho’okui was different. This Ho’okui not only brought everyone from HMA together, as it was planned to do, it also brought HMA back together in a sense of normality.
While restrictions for the future are unknown, things are looking positive for the staff and students of HMA, as well as the community of the Hawaiian Islands.
By Matt Webster