Stacy Garcia Jr. represents Senator Shimabukuro at Consulate General of Canada reception event

March 25, 2015, Stacy Garcia Jr. attended a reception at the Pacific Club celebrating the connections between Hawaii and Canada on behalf of Senator Shimabukuro’s office.

The official visit to Honolulu of the Consulate General of Canada in San Francisco Cassie Doyle and Consulate staff was to welcome newly elected Hawaii Governor David Ige and outline Hawaii’s trade relationship with Canada.

Consulate General Doyle highlighted that Canada is Hawaii’s 2nd largest body of tourist comprising of two million visitors each year. She mentioned our excellent educational exchange programs and close military ties.

Governor Ige shared of his surprise involving the true nature of Hawaii’s close ties with Canada truly are. He also stated how much Hawaii and Canada can gain from one another in the field of alternative energy and the goal of 100% energy independence.

Stacy Garcia takes a photo with Consulate General of Canada Connie Doyle.

Stacy Garcia Jr. takes a photo with Consulate General of Canada Connie Doyle.

Stacy Garcia Jr. attends BIA-Hawaii Stew Challenge event

Stacy Garcia and Jackson Parker (D.R. Horton)

Stacy Garcia and Jackson Parker (D.R. Horton)

Stacy Garcia and Stacy Diplato (BIA) hold sign for 'Thank You Stacy' stew.

Stacy Garcia and Stacy Diplato (BIA) hold sign for ‘Thank You Stacy’ Smile Stew.

Stacy Garcia votes for stew made by Universal Construction Inc.

Stacy Garcia votes for stew made by Universal Construction Inc.

On March 24, 2015, the Building Industry Association of Hawaii (BIA-Hawaii) held its annual legislature Hawaii Stew Challenge at Julies Cafe. Company participants dressed up to epitomize their contest entries with cowboys/cowgirls, Russians, and even theme characters from the Game of Throne series. The stews ranged from traditional to fusion, spicy to mild, and vegetarian to seafood.

Stacy Garcia, legislative aide to Senator Shimabukuro represented her office as a guest and ‘Peoples’ Choice’ judge.

Makua Easter Sunrise Celebration: April 5, 2015 and Cultural Access: April 18 and 26, 2015

Announcement originally appeared in April 2015 issue of Westside Stories

Mākua Easter Sunrise Celebration and Cultural Access

The 18th annual “Mākua Sunrise celebration” will be held on April 5 at 6 am.  All are invited to attend.  Please bring your ‘ohana, a mat or blanket, warm clothes and rain gear or umbrella.  This is a nondenominatinal celebration for the life, love and peace for the ‘aina.  We will start promptly anda  potluck breakfast on Mākua Beach will follow.

The next access into Mākua valley will be on April 18 and April 26 at times to be determined.  Meet inside the main gate of Mākua Military Reservation (MMR).  Wear covered shoes and sun protection.  Bring ID, water, snacks or lunch.

For more information on the Mākua Easter Sunrise, contact Leandra Wai at 696-2823.

For more information on Mākua Cultural Access, call Vince Dodge at 478-6492 or Fred Dodge at 696-4677 at least 4 days prior to verify the times of the access and to reserve a spot to attend.

Women of Waianae 2015 Scholarship Applications: Due April 20, 2015

Women of Wai’anae’s (WOW) 2015 scholarship applications are available online, at Wai’anae Public Library, and at Leeward Community College – Wai’anae Campus (front desk).

For Wai’anae Coast Non-Traditional Students

Our yearly goal is to provide 10 scholarships to non-traditional students on the Wai’anae Coast. Depending on the amount of money the organization raises throughout the year, the scholarships vary. This year the awards range from $500 to $2,000. We offer three different types of scholarships:

  • Grand Winner
  • Runner Up Awards
  • Holomua Award

Download your form now by clicking:  GET YOUR APPLICATION NOW!

  • Applicant must have originated from and live in Wai’anae, and be a non-traditional college or trade school student

  • Further requirements and deadline will be found on the application.

 **Only 2015 Application Forms will be accepted.**

Senator Maile Shimabukuro on the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hawaii

Hawaii State Senator Maile Shimabukuro on the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hawai’i

NFL YET Hawai’i Boys & Girls Club Nānākuli youth interviewed Senator Shimabukuro on Opening Day.

NPAC and Robin Kitsu Featured on Milken Educator Award Website

Original story posted on Milken Educator Awards website at:

Program Builds Confidence, Dreams for At-Risk Students

Robin Kitsu, a 2001 Milken Educator Award winner from Hawaii, has created a life-changing performing arts program for students – many of whom have faced roadblocks like poverty and substance abuse.

Nanakuli High and Intermediate School, tucked away in a small community on the west side of O‘ahu, at one time had the reputation of being the “worst” school in the state. But Robin Kitsu’s (HI ’01) work leading an after-school program – the Nanakuli Performing Arts Center (NPAC) – has turned that around for countless students.

Since he started the center nearly 25 years ago, Kitsu has tirelessly coordinated program funding, schedules and performances. Students in grades 4 through 12 from across the region voluntarily participate in performance areas like drama, multimedia and video production.

His students have won state and national awards for their plays, newspaper and video news program – all of this in a school where the drop-out and poverty rates are high.

An astonishing 90 percent of students who participate in NPAC graduate from high school and go on to higher education.

The idea for NPAC goes back to when, as a young boy, Kitsu would share in his mother’s passion for performing arts. She was a dancer and an actress in Japan.

“As far back as I can remember, my mother and I would watch old musicals featuring Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, and I remember how we would talk about why each dance number was done well or not,” he said. “I always had a passion for the performing arts.  It was a goal of mine to work at a school that did not have a performing arts program and to develop one.”

This passion led to his participation in band throughout primary school and later to the performance of literature speech courses and productions in college. The self-assurance he gained through those pursuits laid the groundwork for NPAC’s purpose today.

Kitsu’s goal for NPAC is to leverage performing arts to help students develop self-confidence, positive character traits, and improve academic and other skills, such as communication and problem solving, needed for life after high school.

With a high rate of students from NPAC going on to enroll in college, he’s been very successful with that ambition since the program started in 1991.

Kitsu, or, “Mister” as he’s known to his students, said a big reason for that is because he makes a point to promote post-high school education. Program “alumni assistants” who are enrolled or have already graduated from college return to volunteer and serve as role models.

“[It] just reaffirms the benefits of college,” he said. “They talk about college life, they talk about the advantages, they talk about the challenges. When you have students from grades 4 to 12 hearing this each year, I think that helps to plant the seed that college is something that’s beneficial and fun.  We stress to all of our students to find their passion and we explain how college will help them develop it.”

One alumni assistant, Talitiga Ulufale, said he wouldn’t have graduated if it weren’t for “Mister” and the program.

“I probably would have been behind bars,” Ulufale said in a 2011 PBS Hawaii documentary highlighting NPAC. “But after seeing this outlet for kids like me … I believe in this program. It will help you graduate, help you be a better person and prepare you for the real world more than anything else.”

There are also guest speakers, tutoring and other kinds of academic assistance. But more than any other factor, Kitsu said the confidence developed through the program is a “tremendous reason why the students go on to college.”

“If they know that they can learn to sing, act and dance on stage in front of an audience, then nothing is impossible,” he said. “The skills they learn and apply in NPAC are the same skills needed to succeed in college.”

NPAC is now a sought-after program with up to 75 new students joining each school year, some of them going to great lengths to participate.

“What’s amazing is that many of the students who come from other schools have to travel miles to get here,” Kitsu said. “In fact, we have two students who catch two buses and walk a mile to get here and then have to do the same to go home; that’s pretty impressive.”

Another important factor in the program’s staying power? The message of equality.

“Our philosophy is that everyone is important and that it doesn’t matter if you are chorus or ensemble, you are as important as the lead,” said Kitsu, adding that no one needs to audition to participate. “You can have two left feet or be tone deaf, it doesn’t matter. Creating this accepting culture allows students to try new things and make mistakes and grow.”

Student Samuel Hedin said before joining the program as a freshman, he was “closed off and lonely.” NPAC changed all of that.

“I can’t really describe the feeling of your first performance,” Hedin said. “It’s one of those things you would say is one of your greatest accomplishments.”

Academics are also an important part of NPAC. Students develop skills in reading, math and social studies through the production process by reading scripts, researching characters or themes and applying math concepts in the creation of sets.

Plus, they have to maintain a good grade point average to stay in the program. But Kitsu said it really all comes back to confidence building.

“Being successful in NPAC gives them the confidence to do the work in their core content subjects,” he said.

Kitsu was honored with the Milken Educator Award in 2001 in large part due to his incredible work with NPAC. He said the award has given the program more credibility and recognition.

“Winning the Milken [Award] brought a sense of pride not only to the NPAC members but to the community and the school,” said Kitsu. “I’ve been involved in more leadership roles at the school, such as curriculum coordinator, literacy coach and teacher mentor. I think it does provide credibility when giving testimonials or promoting ideas in education.”

NPAC is a challenging, yet rewarding, endeavor for Kitsu. So, what keeps him motivated?

“To see a student who is so shy and lacking confidence at the beginning of the year, but by the end of the year is singing and dancing on stage in front of hundreds of people – that is the kind of growth that keeps me going,” he said.

Over the years, Kistsu and his students have successfully produced and performed a variety of dramatic and musical productions. There was Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” (they were the first group to produce the musical in the state of Hawaii) and “Rent, the School Edition,” to name a few.

In 2011, NPAC was selected as one of 62 schools to perform at the American High School Theatre Festival at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland– “a once in a lifetime, and humbling experience,” said Kitsu.

From parents and families helping with meals, working concessions, and supporting their children, to community members watching the performances, Kitsu has witnessed the power of NPAC to bring the community together. Another big source of motivation for Kitsu is his family. His wife, Michelle, assists with costumes and his daughter, Chloe, has participated in the program since she was 4 (she’s now 12).

“I couldn’t do it without their support,” he said.

Visit the NPAC’s website to see photos and watch videos of their performances. “Like” them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @nyapa to show your support!

Robin Kitsu also serves as curriculum coordinator and Title I supervisor for Nanakuli High and Intermediate School.  

2015 Kaahele Waianae Challenge: April 18, 2015

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

Pūnana Leo o Wai‘anae and Ka Papahana o Māilikūkahi are proud to present our 2015 Ka’ahele Wai’anae challenge which will be held on Saturday, April 18. We encourage your kula to enter a two-person team to participate in this half-day adventure challenge which aims to embrace and uphold our mission statement “E ola ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i – The Hawaiian language shall live”.

Approximately 25 two-person teams will gather at Mā‘ili Beach Park for instructions and receive clues in ʻōlelo Hawai‘i which will take them to various locations on the Wai‘anae Coast to complete physical and mental challenges tied to the mo‘olelo of each place. This year, our Ka‘ahele Wai‘anae competition will end with a Ho‘olaule‘a at Mā‘ili Beach Park that will include performances from our community schools, food trucks, local craft vendors and artisans, and an awards ceremony that all highlight the ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i movement here in Waiʻanae. Priority registration deadline is April 1 ($50/team). Late registration deadline is April 13 ($60/team).

To register on-line and pay be credit card, go to:


Calabash & Cooks: April 18, 2015

2015 Calabash & Cooks Fundraiser to benefit Mālama Learning Center
Saturday, April 18, 2015, 5:30 – 8:30 pm
Kapolei High School Plaza

Pre-sale Prices:
$35 general admission
$25 student (must present student ID upon entry)
$20 Keiki (ages 5-12; ages 4 and under are free)
$75 VIP

VIP Ticket Includes:
-Early access to the event (5pm)
-Exclusive invite to Chef Collaboration Meet & Greet with Chef Zach Sato & Chef Mark Noguchi from 5-5:30pm
-Access to VIP Lounge
-Special VIP collaboration dish

For more information, call (808) 305-8287, email or see our website:

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge