Students learn about local history, culture by creating mural at Pahoa High School

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Sachiko Kurashima-Schutz paints the tail of a lizard while painting a mural at Pahoa High School on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Mele Murals helped create the concept of the mural and is overseeing the students as they paint the project.

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Nainoa, who declined to give his last name, paints part of a mural at Pahoa High School on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Mele Murals helped create the concept of the mural and is overseeing the students as they paint the project.

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Students at Pahoa High School paint a mural on the wall of the school on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Mele Murals helped create the concept of the mural and is overseeing the students as they paint the project.

This week, students at Pahoa High School are working on a mural that will brighten up the school with a design dedicated to the history of Puna.

Mele Murals is a visual arts program based on Oahu that reaches out to communities throughout the islands to build and sustain the public art movement.

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The program came to Pahoa for a two-week project that helps arts-interested students develop into visual storytellers by educating them about local history and culture.

“This program begins with workshops to help teach students different drawing and painting skills,” said Angela Pastores. “Then, we take them on a field trip to a place that is significant to the area.”

The students went to Cape Kumukahi in Kapoho to explore and talk story with kupuna and kamaaina about the cultural importance of the area.

“The students heard a bunch of stories, but really honed in on the importance of being the most eastern point in Hawaii and seeing the sun rise first before the whole archipelago,” Pastores said. “We also saw and talked about the Kukii Heiau, a navigational heiau that was used to help teach seafarers how to use the stars to sail.”

After the field trip, students were asked to go through a meditation to help come up with the images for the mural.

“With the images the students discussed, we decided to make a sketch with the theme of passing knowledge through generations and passing of stories,” Pastores said. “But, we’re also using the image of the lava flows, which have changed the way we look at the land compared to the ancestors.”

Juniors and seniors were invited to be part of the program and were able to come to school to paint the mural after a year of virtual learning.

“I’m excited to be a part of something that will be here for a long time,” said junior Sachiko Kurashima-Schutz. “I hope I get to come to school next year and see it every day.”

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The students will unveil the finished mural Friday morning.

Email Kelsey Walling at kwalling@hawaiitribune-herald.com.