LAHAINA - "'Ena e, 'ena e.
'"Ena'ena mai e ka lani."
The voices of the Princess Nahi'ena'ena Elementary School 'ohana rise as one, with chants of honor, enlightenment and respect at the beginning of each school day.
The morning practice for the entire campus community began with the instatement of Lynn Kaho'ohalahala as school principal last fall.
"We have established the Hawaiian protocol of oli each morning before the children enter their classrooms," she said.
"It not only teaches our students respect for their teachers and education," Kaho'ohalahala added, "but for Princess Nahi'ena'ena, whom our school was named after.
"It is a way to bring us - students, teachers, staff, parents, administrators - all together, not just those students in Hawaiian Language Immersion (Program), but all students, to start our day with one focus. It gives us a sense of place."
Although Kaho'ohalahala has logged 37 years with the state Department of Education in various teaching and administrative capacities, she has a familial knowledge of the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program (HLIP) on the West Side.
"My youngest daughter was a part of the first Hawaiian Language Immersion Class at Princess Nahi'ena'ena School!
"Those students who started the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program in Lahaina are now seniors, finishing their last semester of high school, either at Kamehameha Schools Maui or Lahainaluna High School. I am so proud of all of them, because they are still speaking Hawaiian and graduating from English high schools," she commented.
"My two oldest granddaughters," she continued, "both graduated from the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program at Princess Nahi'ena'ena Elementary as well."
Kaho'ohalahala is an HLIP advocate.
"I would be very happy to speak with any parent who may want to learn more about the benefits of our Hawaiian Language Immersion Program," she advised.
Additionally, Kaho'ohalahala supports "the growth of the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program; because if we have more students in the program, our West Maui students will not have to travel to Kalama Intermediate School and King Kekaulike High School if they want to continue their education in the Hawaiian Immersion Program, as they currently do," she advised.
It's all in the numbers, she said.
"In order to have Hawaiian immersion continue next door at Lahaina Intermediate School and then at Lahainaluna High School, it takes a larger number of students than we currently have in the program here in West Maui.
"We have two highly qualified and certified teachers now teaching the program at Princess Nahi'ena'ena School who are committed to expanding the program for our students," she affirmed.
Kumu Liko Rogers is one of the instructors and also a parent of a student enrolled in the program.
"We need to help the language grow on the West Side. We'd like to send our children to school close by home," Rogers said.
For children born in 2007, kindergarten registration at Princess Nahi'ena'ena, including enrollment in the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program, will be held on Feb. 14-17 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Call the school office at 662-4020 to find out what documents are required to register.