Happiness in the neighborhood

16 03 2011

After the children went home, the adults looked in on the neighborhood

It’s such a happy place! The Omidyar K-1 Neighborhood at Punahou School. What a joy for students, families, and teachers alike!

The new state-of-the-art learning facility was open to alumni yesterday, so DH and I went to visit.

Whenever we drove up Punahou street since the school broke ground for the Neighborhood, we’d glance over at the construction going on on the side of Rocky Hill, wondering if Miss Marvelous might attend school there in a few years.

The new award-winning space opened to 150 kindergarteners and 150 first graders in the Fall of 2010.

The welcoming landscape design, planned with curricula in mind, captured my childhood imagination. Child-size garden pathways, native plants, soft surfaces, an amphitheater.

Arched wooden bridges over dry streams lead from classrooms to play areas where the absence of playground structures is refreshing. (There are a few in the phys ed area.) Just a couple of large soft boulders in the middle of a beautiful lawn.

The indoor-outdoor environment of each classroom is designed so that everything in this neighborhood is integrated – art, music, physical education, traditional academics, children’s ages – and in proximity. Each classroom has a raised box for planting what vegetables, fruits, and flowers the children want, a cistern with water pump, and garden tools. Punahou designed a space that nurtures the experience of being whole for the youngest of students.

Interior classroom and project room spaces are bathed in natural light. Oh, such pretty furniture and fixtures designed for little people! The teachers and children must be in heaven! Stimulation and wondrous things everywhere! It inspired me to improve the spaces at the studio for Miss Marvelous.

Last night, the remarks by the Junior School Principal Mike Walker and K-2 Supervisor JoAnn Wong-Kam were similar to the ones heard in this earlier video that speaks to the educational philosophy. http://www.punahou.edu/page.cfm?p=2951

A $6 million challenge grant from alumnus Pierre (founder of eBay) and Pam Omidyar provided the basis for the Neighborhood. The project received a  LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. What a wonderful gift!

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke



4 responses

28 03 2011
Rebekah's Studio

Yes, the environment and the curricula are remarkable.

28 03 2011
Pat Gozemba

Wow. Such a great school environment. Wish all the kids in Kalihi could go there. Revise that: kids everywhere!

20 03 2011
Rebekah's Studio

Becky, this is a stone’s throw to where we lived as roomies! The stairs between the community room and the amphitheater, behind the student drop off, lead to the classrooms and gardens. The five- and six-year olds climb these stairs. This campus is not visible from any roadway. You will be so surprised! Follow the dry stream bed to the windmill, and you might be able to see our old place.

20 03 2011

I walk past the front of the K-1 buildings across from the tennis courts and while I admired them I never realized the lush green natural look apparently on the back side of the building. Next time I’m there in daylight I’ll have to check it out. Thanks.

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