Song Contest Postponed Due To Corona Virus

Puka Mai Ka Lā Staff

Song+Contest+Postponed+Due+To+Corona+Virus

Courtesy of Kamehameha Schools

Joby Lum, Website/Technology Director

As of 2:02 pm HST, Poʻokula Taran Chun went live on Puka Mai Ka Lā to address the entire high school body of Kamehameha Schools. Chun opened the special broadcast by saying “we have made the very hard decision to postpone our song contest”. Effective today, the 100th annual Song Contest will be postponed until a later date due to the Corona Virus Pandemic (COVID-19). This is the first time in the history of the Song Contest tradition that it has ever been postponed.

Chun addressed in the broadcast that “we are doing this because we care about the safety and the health of our community. Especially our kupuna who would attend an event like this who are the most susceptible to the viruses being spread.” COVID-19 is a virus that can be spread through contact between people. Reports have found that people above the age of 50 or have pre-existing medical conditions have a higher fatality rate from the virus. COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11th.

Poʻokumu Wendy Erskine said, “I just want to thank all of the students, song contest directors, staff that have worked so hard to be able to present this event.” Students prepare for Song Contest months before the event night starting in January where they devote 4 days out of the week to practice their mele. To prepare for Song Contest, performing arts teachers devote hours of their time to help train 1.6 thousand students over the course of a few months. Song Directors for each grade work tirelessly to boost morale and perfect the singing abilities of their classmates. Kamehameha Schools Operations department arranges the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena on the night of Song Contest to become show-ready. Students who emcee prepare scripts for introducing mele and practice months before Song Contest night. Parent volunteers devote hours of their time to make sure sashes and leis are ready for each class months before the event night. There are many people involved in the process to make Song Contest night a reality for the world to see. Song Contest is more than just a mele being sung, but it is about us as Hawaiians. It is about telling a story about who we are as a culture and our ability to remain steadfast and resilient.

Zachary Alakaʻi Lum, Concert Glee Club Teacher, said “[song contest] will be beyond, it will be more… It’s because of the things that you have shown us as possible. Young Hawaiians e mau ke ea aina, through mele. This is what we are celebrating. That is your celebration”

Despite the announcement today, students still remain optimistic and understand why Song Contest was postponed. Kaleʻa Nelson, a senior, said “I think that it’s good because we don’t want to get everybody else sick. We are thinking about the community and the bigger picture in that sense than rather focusing on something as big as Song Contest. As bummed as we all are, our health is more important. It also gives us more time to practice and get good.” Many students recognize the actions taken by the Kamehameha Schoolʻs administration as being appropriate and praise the school for making the decision to postpone. Senior Cameron Morgan says “they made the right choice to postpone it. Even though it sucks, this is something that needs to be done.”

Kumu Kuʻulei Reyes, the Hawaiian Pacific Collection Librarian and Kamehameha Schools C/O 1988 alumni said “It is good to be safe for everyone’s sake. Postponement is definitely better than canceling. We know its painful, we understand, we will go forward! I really like zachʻs message and we just need to go forward. We will be ok, we are Hawaiians, we are flexible, innovative and resilient.”

Kumu Dannette Gardner, also known as Aunty Danni, is the Hawaii Pacific Collection Library Assistant and also a Kamehameha Schools C/O 1961 alumni. Gardner said “It’s with mixed feelings they canceled it but let’s talk about it and see what transpires. We just hope for the best”.

Kamehameha Schools released a statement today:

“After much soul searching and pule, our Campus Leadership Team has made the decision to suspend this year’s live public event scheduled for March 20 at the Neal Blaisdell Arena.

To say that there has been much hard work and effort put into this year’s milestone competition by every segment of our KS ‘ohana would be grossly understating the magnitude of this year’s event. To honor that work, we are exploring alternatives that will allow us to continue to celebrate the spirit and pride of Song Contest that may look different from the way to which we are all accustomed. In many ways, this re-visioning exercise underscores exactly what Song Contest has become for us over the past 99 years. It is about resilience and banding together in the face of challenge. Our students, our school and our families will persevere. Please expect to see details about those plans shortly.”

Leaders, Poʻokula Taran Chun, Poʻokumu Wendy Erskine, and Zachary Alakaʻi Lum expressed their sympathy for students and have offered hope and resilience moving forward.

In a follow-up meeting with the senior and junior classes, Lum told students “do not feel bummed but excited for what lies ahead. This song contest isnʻt about us, but it’s about Aloha ‘Āina and what that means.” Erskine announced that she will be working alongside other administrators to go over Song Contest and the remainder of the school year due to COVID-19.

UPDATE

Due to the Outbreak, Kamehameha Schools has extended our spring break by a week from March 17 to April 6th. Classes will resume again after the break, however, classes will be online for the safety of students, faculty, and staff. In a statement, Kamehameha Schools said “As we continue to monitor and adapt to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, implementation of distance learning and educational support programs is what we must proceed with in order to protect the health and safety of our haumāna, staff, and community.

We believe this decision will keep our learners intellectually active and allow us to better serve them during this unprecedented situation. Rest assured, we will continue to provide our community with timely updates as COVID-19 events unfold.”

Kamehameha Schools has also canceled all field trips to the continental United States and international travel for the rest of the school year. Events have also been canceled for the remainder of the school year such as sports games, educational competitions, etc. Arrangements are being made to have teachers create online lesson plans for a two week period in the event school needs to be closed down due to the spread of COVID-19. For updates and information on what student activities have been canceled, please go to https://www.ksbe.edu/malama_ola/coronavirus_updates/