The 9th Grade Class of 2017 is studying in Hawaii February 26 – March 9, 2018. You can follow along with their science, history and cultural curriculum by reading new posts and seeing new photos each day.

Hawaii 2018

Volcanic Art and Hiking
Christopher Hurtgen

On their final day in Hawaii, 9th grade students visited Volcano Art Gallery and hiked a 4 mile loop through Volcano National Park.

We spent our last full day enjoying our Volcano home and finishing our writing.

We returned to Volcanoes National Park to explore the Visitor's Center and the Volcano Art Gallery. 

After lunch we headed to the Kilauea Iki trail for a 4-mile loop hike that took us into the crater of the former lava lake that erupted in 1959. 

We'll be enjoying our final dinner in Hawaii at home with some mahi mahi, board games, and each other's company.

Tomorrow we'll get up early for our drive to Hilo Airport and our flight home. We're looking forward to seeing the snow when we land at JFK! (Well, some of us are...)

Kona to Volcano
Christopher Hurtgen

The 9th grade traveled across the island from Kona to Volcano for its final two days of off campus study.


We were sorry to leave the Kona-side this morning, but our poke lunch and visit to Kilauea are well worth it! We're settling into our new home well, with a running propane faux-fireplace to keep the chill away; it gets chilly in Hawaii at 4,000 feet elevation where we are staying for our final two nights.

On our drive from Kona to Volcano we passed through Hilo, with a stop at Suisan Fish Market. We picked up some poke and fresh mahi-mahi that we'll cook tomorrow night. Poke is a Hawaiian dish consisting, basically, of cubed fish and a bit of seasoning (such as onions, salt, seaweed, kimchee). Almost everyone tried it, and a few chased it down with a good ole PB&J. 

After arriving at our new home, we were visited by Leilehua Yuen, a cultural practitioner we have been fortunate to meet with each year. This year we learned how to make traditional leis (see video and photos) and learned a "mele" (chant) and corresponding hula about Pele, the goddess of volcanoes, among other things.

We then visited the Jaggar Museum to learn a bit about the volcano and view the crater. Fortunately, the lava level has risen in the past two days and we were able to see some bubbling and splattering (from a safe distance, of course). After a walk to dinner along the caldera's edge we returned to view the crater at night. 

Tomorrow we are looking forward to a hike through Kilauea Iki crater, a 'mini' eruption that occurred in 1959, and a visit to a few other highlights of Volcanoes National Park.

Exploring through Snorkeling
Christopher Hurtgen

The class continued it study of Hawaiian marine life.

Aloha - today brought us back to the water and even more surprises. Perhaps the greatest was a 4-foot white-tipped reef shark spotted and a "fish ball" – that's what we're calling a large school of Hawaiian flagtail fish swimming in a circular pattern about 50 feet in diameter. It was amazing! We stayed a safe distance from the reef shark but swam right into the school of fish (these were not in proximity to each other...)

This evening we're finishing up some reading and writing as well as packing up for our early departure from Waikoloa Village. We'll be heading to Volcano (the town, the National Park, and the actual volcano) for our final days on the island.

Time flies when we're having fun!

Eating and Hiking the Waiakea Forest Reserve
Christopher Hurtgen

9th grade ate, hiked and snorkeled as they headed into their second week of study in Hawaii

Today was for the birds! And fish! And eating!

We had an adventurous day that started with fluffy scrambled eggs and finished with the best stir fry Ajay has ever had! Throughout the day some of us also tasted (or, watched others taste...) some new delicacies, most of which we picked up at the farmer's market. Our ever-expanding diet includes: homemade smoothie made from fresh soursop (guanabana), lilikoi (passion fruit), poi (mashed taro root), papaya, cacao (bean of chocolate), fried cuttle fish, rambutans, longans, and musubi (rice, seaweed, and Spam treat).  

And what did we do today? We started back on Saddle Road at about 6,700 feet elevation where we meet Claudia and Eric Ziroli - naturalists extraordinaire - who led us on a short walk on the Pu`u O`o Trail through the Waiakea Forest Reserve. We explored the koa and ohia forest and found some of the less common and most beautiful endemic birds around. Lucky for those of us looking out the front window on our drive home, we also spotted a pue`o - the Hawaiian owl - as it circled in front of our van. 

After we came down from the mountains, we rented snorkeling gear and headed into the sea. There was much to explore, and highlights varied for everyone, but included a turtle, eels, urchins, butterfly fish, and using a GoPro underwater. 

Fruits and Sugar on the way to Hilo
Christopher Hurtgen

The 9th grade explored native foods on their way from Kona to Hilo

Saturday took us over Saddle Road to Hilo for a full day packed with visits so distinctive of Hawaii.

On our way to the Hilo Farmer's Market we passed between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa; we were fortunate to have clear weather, which provided a chance to see both peaks from the high point (~6,700 feet) of the saddle road that runs from Kona to Hilo. We picked up some fresh fruit (sour sap, rambutans, longans) some local foods (musubi) and a few souvenirs that we look very good in!

We visited the Hawaii Plantation Museum for a quick look at some artifacts and information, much of which revolved around the sugar cane plantations that dominated the islands in the late 1800 and early 1900's. Our evening was planned around visiting the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station (~9,000 feet) for the experience and views, but cloudy skies prevented us from enjoying the evening star tours provided by local astronomers. Next time!