For as long as anyone can remember, if you were a kid living in the “last remaining Hawaiian fishing village” and wanted to go to school you have to be a pretty determined student. Twice a day you’d ride the 1.5 lane switchback road from the coast up to the highway, and then up to 20 miles to school.
Now, thanks to some determined adults, kids have a high tech option for learning right there in the village, called the Hipu’u o Miloli’i Virtual Academy. If you have ever been to Miloli’i, you will understand what an incredible difference this charter school can make to this remote community. West Hawaii Today reported yesterday that about 30 percent of kids in Hawaii county live below the poverty line. These figures have real meaning in remote areas, but there is good news here.
In the past, Miloli’i residents Willie Kaupiko and Al Keli’ikoa worked with Jody Bright at the Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series to present the Kona Classic Fishing Tournament. The idea was to offer an event where canoes, skiffs and fancy charter boats could compete on a a level playing field, get diverse folks together and celebrate the fishing history and culture of Kona.
The tournament was a hit and ran successfully for many years. After Uncle Al passed away and Willie suffered a stroke, the energy shifted and the attention of participants also shifted from ono and mahi toward ahi and marlin. The numbers of small boats in the event declined and few years back the Kona Classic was pulled from the lineup of the HMT Series and replaced with a more marlin oriented event called the Kona Kick Off.
Now the Kona Classic has a new home and a new owner, but remains “in the family”. Kaimi Kaupiko is one of the determined adults of Miloli’i village and a source of energy for the Miloli’i charter school, which is technically part of the DOE, which translates into underfunded.
Kaimi was also one of those determined students who endured those long journeys to school, going on to get a college education. Now, he has established the non-profit Kalanihale Educational Organization to be the non-profit fundraising arm of the Miloli’i virtual school. Kalanihale has recently endured the process of applying for and receiving its 501 (c) 3 status from the IRS, making donations and contributions tax exempt for the organization, and tax deductible for the donor. In addition, Kaupiko has taken the final step and registered Kalanihale with the office of the State Attorney General, Charity division, so T’s are crossed and I’s dotted. Kalanihale is open for business and the with the track record of the established Kona Classic tourney in its arsenal, it is hoped that the annual event can generate some consistent funding over the years ahead.
“Since the Kaupiko family and Miloli’i village were always a part of the Kona Classic, it is a perfect fit that the next generation take the wheel of this long running event, and steer it into the future for good cause – education of the kids of Miloli’i”, said Jody Bright. “The tournament infrastructure is all in place, the rules, the intellectual property, the well known brand and a track record. With the energy of the younger generation and community support that I am sure will come forth, the Kona Classic should be able to help the school achieve their goal of moving from the community halau into their own,new facility.”
Students and volunteers from Kalanihale and the Hipu’u o Miloli’i Virtual School will be performing hula, hapa haole ukulele tunes and other traditional music at the Kona Kick Off tournament this weekend, and at other events this summer during the Hawaii Marlin Tournament Series to raise more awareness and funds. The Kona Classic is “penciled in” to resume operation in May of 2014. This plan gives Kalanihale and supporters almost a year to garner community support and promote the return of the event, insuring a successful relaunch of the Kona Classic Fishing Tournament.