Student voices to harmonize again


Class of 2017 rehearses their song.

Nanakuli High and Intermediate School is holding their 27th annual Songfest on March 2, 2017 in the gym. The annual event promotes the Hawaiian culture and language through song and competition between grade levels.

This year’s theme is “A Tribute to Frank Hewett.”

Jean Nishi, Student Activities Coordinator, said “Songfest is an annual singing competition between grade levels and it was started twenty seven years ago, by a group of teachers who wanted to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture and language.”

According to Robin Kitsu, teacher, Songfest was a mandatory activity.

“It was a mandatory activity in which teachers would integrate into their lessons, the background of the respective songs and also lessons on Hawaiian culture. Rehearsals were done during the school day too.”

But being a mandatory event also had it’s challenges.

“Before, Songfest was a mandatory event and so they dedicated time during the school day for the kids to practice, but some of the kids just really didn’t wanted to be there, they be kind of monkeying around and getting the coaches all upset and also maybe some teachers felt that it was taking away instructional time, so ended up making it optional,” said Nishi.

Each grade level has selected a song related to the theme:

Grades 7 & 8 – Ola’a Beauty and Ka Wai Lehua ‘A’ala Ka Honua
Grade 9 – Aloha Hawai’i Ku’u One Hanau
Grade 10 – La’ieikawai
Grade 11 – Pua Aloalo
Grade 12 – Poli’ahu and E Ike I Ka Nani ‘O Poli’ahu

Each grade level also selects a vocal coach:

Grades 7 & 8 – Ileialoha Kaeha
Grade 9 – Shannah Nahulu, Mailani Rabanes, Analu Rabanes
Grade 10 – Momi and Leonard Kaeo
Grade 11 – Oaokaena Kirkland, Heather Kapua Kalua, Jordan Aina Asing, Tyrus Kupihea, Chris Pokipala, Lina Robbins-Tamure
Grade 12 – Alika Laronal, Junius Wong, Waynard Laa

Karena Escalante is a freshmen class advisor and this is her first year helping with the Songfest. “One of the most challenging thing is that it requires a lot of commitment, three hour practices, three time a week and more. One of this most rewarding thing is that it’s just rewarding to connect with my students and in a different context. The best part about being in Songfest is the fellowship.”