The 9th Grade Class of 2019 is studying in Hawaii February 25 – March 8, 2019. We will post occasional journal entries and photos on this blog.

Hawaii 2019

Day 10
Jon Mitchell

Aloha! We are full of birthday cake – celebrating Hampton's day, which will happen while we are in the air, flying home.

It's been raining most of the time since we arrived at our home in Volcano, Hawaii - just 2 miles outside the border of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. That's where Kilauea Caldera is located - the currently active volcano that was erupting in 2018. However, for the past few months there is no lava anywhere on the surface of Kilauea or that can be viewed. That also means the vog (volcanic fog) is not around, which many people who live locally appreciate. 

This morning a few of us went birding in the park; we were lucky to see a few endemic species of honey creepers and some other interesting introduced species. It was also a clear morning, so we were able to see the crater – more than four times larger than when we were here last year! Amazing!

We visited Imiloa Astronomy Center, where we learned about Polynesian wayfaring and methods of navigating thousands of miles across the ocean in a manner that is very different from traditional European navigation that relies on a magnetic compass.

We are getting up tomorrow and, after a pancake breakfast, will head back to the Park with the hopes of a clear view of the crater for everyone. Then we'll be heading into Hilo to board our plane to Honolulu and back to New York.

View photos from Day 10.

Days 6 and 7
Christopher Hurtgen

View a slideshow of photos from these days and enjoy a few of the poems written by members of the Class of 2019.

Celestial Views  
by Paige

Glitter strewn across the sky
Worlds away and miles high
Cold light pours down from up above
Looking at our world with love

As they glow so far above
We laugh and talk and live and love
We’re so young and they’re so old
How much knowledge do they hold?

Large as life and small as dust
Their journeys fuel our wanderlust
So feel the breeze and see the stars 
From this tiny world of ours


by Elijah

The birds of the island call out from the trees
Calling to others from branches and leaves
Up the volcano where silverswords grow
Down to the shore and the ocean below

On the beach where the waves crash
On the volcanoes where the climates clash
On the water out to the sea
On the lava rock rough as can be

In the water cloudy and clear
Like the skies far and near
The volcanoes reach through the cloud 
To the stars that they shroud


The Sky of Mauna Kea 
by Marissa

A starry sky sits atop my head
A blanket of lights, quiet like the dead
Archers, lions, fish and more
They dance across my obsidian floor
The darkness seeps into my skin
Absorbing stories to tell my kin
The fearsome lion killed by might
The fearsome lion that put up a fight

A blinding beacon leads the way
It saved the sailors, that’s what they say
North North, it brought them North
In an endless sky, I count: second, third, fourth
Count the dim dots that pave a path
To many to count to rely on math.


The Snorkel Spot
by Diego

Waves crashing over ancient lava,
Waves crashing over lifeless coral
Hearing your own breathing
And seeing fish and fish and fish and fish and fish
Urchins porsitioned as if purposely placed
Eels silently screaming into the sea

Water stretching a million miles
Past the horizon as far as the eye can see 
A multitude of life is here
In every shape imaginable
Every color, every size,
If they can live with their differences why can't we?

Our First Three Days
Christopher Hurtgen

Everyone is happy and healthy, if a little sunburned! 

February 26 – Our first full day here took us north to the Kohala region. We visited Pu`ukohola Heiau, where Kamehameha built a monument to the god Ku. This structure not only strengthened his army, but it also fulfilled the third of three prophecies that set him on the path of uniting the various groups across the Hawaiian islands into one kingdom. From there we traveled from around the north tip of the island to the town of Hawi, where we picked up some shave ice--the best in the island! We continued on to hike into Pololu Valley, one of the lush and rainy green valleys that contrasts with the near-desert and sunny environment we had just come from on the leeward side of the island.

February 27 – Yesterday was a day of extremes, from the sea to the sky. We left our home in Kona early and drove over saddle road to Hilo where we explored the Hilo Farmer's market. Today's breakfast will include some of the great foods we picked up there: soursop (guanabana), guave, mango, and a bread fruit. After lunch (Lucy's Tacqueria - the best Mexican food in Hawai`i!) we met some old friends, Claudia and Eric, from Hawaiian Educational Pursuits. They gave us an introduction to the sands of Hawaii (terrigenous! biogenous! green! black! white! plastic!) We compared some of the intertidal organisms to what we studied in Connecticut and then donned our snorkeling gear for the first swim of the trip. 

We were met with aloha from Kalani who talked with us about his work aboard Hokulea, a replica of a traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe that is often credited with starting the popular rebirth of Hawaiian cultures and language. 

On our drive home we traveled up Mauna Kea for a beautiful (and cold) sunset at 9,000 feet. The shift from sea level to 9,000 feet, from swimming to near desert, and from 80 to 41 degrees in only a 1-hour drive is always interesting!

View some photos from our third day.

February 28 – As we wake on the fourth day of our adventure to the smell of homemade pancakes, we're looking forward to connecting with Bob Strickland at the Camp Tarawa Memorial, where WWII soldiers trained. We're hoping to learn more about how the connections between this island, the people of Waimea (the closest town) and the impact of the soldiers who were trained here in the war.