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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Ka‘ū News Briefs, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022

Firefighters from Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park helped stop the Leilani Fire that started at 
Pōhakuloa and spread toward Puu Lani. NPS photo

THE 17,000 ACRE, 26.5 SQUARE MILE FIRE on the other side of the island was more than 90 percent contained on Wednesday. Hawa'i Volcanoes National Park firefighters worked for several days alongside U.S. military, state and county crews, who fought the fire over the last week. Called Leilani Fire, it burned south of Waikōloa Village and mauka of Highway 190 near the Puu Lani Subdivision and left a charred landscape. The dozens of firefighters have been supported by heavy equipment and air assets.
    “It’s possible, we could see another re-kindle of this fire, as that’s what started it in the first place. The Pōhakuloa Training Area federal fire department, first put out a fire here, three-weeks ago. We believe hot
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park provided
logistics assistance and an engine to fight the 
17,000-acre Leilani Fire. NPS Photo
spots lay dormant under the ground, and then high winds whipped it up into the major fire, we’ve all been fighting for the past week,” explained Lt. Col. Kevin Cronin, the PTA Commander.
    Steve Bergfeld, an experienced wildland firefighter, and Hawai‘i Island branch manager for DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, said firefighters found it difficult to initially slow the fire due to high winds, the presence of highly flammable and fire adapted fountain grass, and the difficult terrain and access. "We will continue to monitor the fire, but smoldering and unburned pockets of fuel within the firebreaks will continue to burn until we receive adequate rainfall.” Bergfeld added, “Without a small army of eight private bulldozers, contracted by the State, and one Department of Public Works bulldozer this fire would have grown much larger. The fire lines cut by dozers are intended to remove the fire of fuels, to stop its spread. Most often, line crews then backfire from the firebreaks to further eliminate fuels."
    Greg Funderburk, Fire Management Officer for Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park and the Pacific Island network, said the park sent an Engine and a Division Supervisor to help battle the fire, plus two people for logistical support. The Engine performed back-fire operations to secure fireline in advance of the flaming front.

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THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION is accepting comments to help the agency decide whether to fund the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Loa. Comments will be included a the Draft EIS, if received by Sept. 17. NSF has also announced that it will provide additional opportunities for public participation upon publication of the Draft EIS. 
Comments on the National Science Foundation's funding of the Thirty Meter Telescope
 can be submitted by the public through Sept. 15. During its Nāʻālehu meeting in August,
 people in opposition stood on one side of the room, when Nohea Kaawa asked attendees
 to show their stance. Photo by Richard Taylor
    NSF held a public meeting in Nāʻālehu this month. South Point resident Richard Taylor said, "By far the most important, most effective speaker presentation, demonstration really, was made by Nohea Kaawa when she asked for all the people opposed to the TMT to stand beside her on one side of the hall. And then had them file out of the hall as they counted off. By the time they were done there were only a dozen or so left plus of course those from NSF." Most speakers were opposed to TMT but a number of public speakersw supported it.
    NSF announced that information regarding the Proposed Action will be posted throughout the EIS process at https://beta.nsf.gov/tmt. For further information regarding the EIS process or the Section 106 consultation process, contact Pentecost at (703) 292-4907 or EIS.106.TMT@nsf.gov.
    The public is also invited to comment on NSF’s Draft Community Engagement Plan (Draft CEP), which is available at https://beta.nsf.gov/tmt and at local libraries.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at wwwkaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/04/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano.htm

KA'Ū HIGH'S CHAYANEE BROOKS IS NAMED A TOP TEACHER: Brooks teaches 11th and 12th grade English Language Arts and AP English at Kaʻū High School. State Department of Education named her Teacher of the Year for the Kaʻū -Kea'au-Pahoa complex. She is in the running for state Teacher of the Year, to be announced in October. Brooks has been teaching for DOE for ten years.
    Brooks said that she found the best way to connect with students at Kaʻū High is to always be "sensitive to my students' learning experiences." Brooks said she looks at teaching "through the eyes of individual students. I pay attention to things that are important to them. My goal is that students not only find comfort and meaning within texts, but also understand and make connections between themselves, their community, and this world with joy.

Chayanee Brooks, English teacher at Ka'u High,
is a nominee for teacher of the year for 
Hawai'i Island.
    "As a language arts teacher, I integrate art, sport, film, music, or even food to encourage my students to see that language permeates all things we do in both its function and beauty as well as invite my students to contribute and to share their creations, passions, and interests.
    The nominee described Kaʻū High School as "a very small rural k-12 school with 500 students. Our district is very broad and wide geographically, so we have often struggled with chronic absenteeism, even before COVID." She described the experience of some of the students who "wake up at 4 a.m. to get on the one bus they could not miss." She noted that some of their parents work in Kona, "so it's students' own initiative to get to the bus."
    Brooks explained that during the pandemic, students were given "a 1:1 device to take home and we had different learning hubs at different locations for students to come to use WIFI." She said the pandemic emphasized that "teaching is about sensitivity and adaptability. Even though learning from home was nothing like physically having a round table seminar discussion or performing a reader theater of a play in our classrooms like we normally do, I used that challenge as a learning opportunity to bridge the outside world to my students. I invited journalists and experts from around the globe to zoom in and collaborate with my students. I got to learn new technology tools that would help enhance the learning experience for each and everyone of my students."
    Brooks said, "Education is changing, challenging the past structures and ways of learning. Schools extend beyond the physical space of our campus to include local and global communities. Technology has become a liberating tool for collaboration, research, and creation, and many teachers, myself included, see opportunities to connect with other educators across the state and country to reimagine and redesign education for our students." While navigating the challenges of COVID-19 and distance learning in rural Kaʻū was difficult, "for me and other educators, it has turned out to be an opportunity for great growth and development in how we teach and in understanding the needs and realities of our students."
   Brooks said that recent favorite teaching moments "involved seeing students grow as a human in confidence and happiness. Last year when we got back in school together in person, we were so thrilled because a lot of students realized how much some people meant to them when they could not go out to see their peers. Throughout the year, I strive to continue to build our classroom community not only to survive, but to thrive. Knowing that students need to reconnect with the place and the people, we went out together, laying on the grass soaking up the energy and warmth from the sun to write journals about what was on our curious minds. We laugh and we cry while engaging in literature: songs, poetry. Moments like when a student wrote a song inspired by a book he read in my class and played ukulele in front of a cheering crowd of peers or another student emerged as a poet writing and performing poetry slam are among many many of my most fond memories I have, sharing space of learning and laughter with my students."
    In order for teachers to better connect with students, Brooks recommended, "Be curious about your students. Ask them questions. Truly listen and really pay attention to their needs. Ask students for input and invite them to work with you as a team. My teaching mantra is, 'I want my class to be a class that I want to be a student in,' and I ask myself that question every day." 
Chaynee Brooks (left) is nominee for Hawai'i Island Teacher of the Year. Here, she is shown with
Kaʻū High Honor Society this Spring. At right his her husband David Brooks, also a teacher.
     Brooks encouraged  teachers to ask their students, "Can you teach me something you know well?" She said the question empowers students to take pride in their ability to contribute and encourages meaningful conversation. "I believe that we teachers can learn tons from our students. A student asked me if I knew how to play mahjong and I replied I don't know how but I can learn, they can teach me, too. We model a growth mindset and lifelong learning disposition through our actions."
   For this school year, Brooks said she is looking forward to "getting to know my students and spending time guiding and learning alongside them. I am also eager to connect with parents and my colleagues to best support our keiki. I'm eager to continue to mentor beginning teachers and students whose interest is in the teaching profession in our work-based internship program that we have at our school. I'm also always excited to keep in touch with my former students and continue to be their cheerleader."

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at wwwkaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/04/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano.htm