A new Windward District campaign targets 16,000 students and their guardians, and focuses on building consistent student attendance and on-time arrivals – key factors in student achievement, graduation and battling the nationwide dropout epidemic.

The highly visible promotion titled “Be Pono – Stay in School” launches August 5, the first day of school. The two Windward District complex-area superintendents (CAS) support the “Be Pono” campaign in all of their complexes – Kailua, Kalaheo, Castle and Kahuku. These four complex areas comprise 31 schools spanning 45 miles from Waimanalo to Sunset Beach.

“Be Pono” is the brainchild of five social workers at the Windward District Office in Kaneohe and took more than six months of planning. The strategic intervention features a smiling, likeable character-logo with positive messages on posters, flyers and signage. The operation will have a constant presence on campuses and in homes,
stressing the importance of coming to school regularly and on time.

The social workers, who developed and steer “Be Pono,” felt inspired to initiate action and secured $5,000 in funding from the school-based behavioral health section in early 2013.

“We’ve seen that attendance is high in the beginning of the school year and declines by the end of the year, hence our campaign through June 2014,” said Paula Wong, district educational specialist and campaign manager.

The effort kicks off with all students receiving “Be Pono” school supplies, fun collateral like stickers and easy-to-read information for parents. Teachers are encouraged and helped to develop good systems of their own, using “Be Pono” as their platform.

“Every day a student is in school is one day closer to a college degree and a fulfilling career,” said Castle-Kahuku CAS Lea Albert.

“Attendance is absolutely critical to student success. I am pleased that the Windward District is working together as we launch the ‘Be Pono – Stay in School’ campaign,” said Kailua-Kalaheo CAS Suzanne Mulcahy. “Our excellent teachers provide a rigorous curriculum so that our students graduate college- and career-ready, and students must be present every day.”

“Be Pono” includes tracking and assessment, and a second-semester kickoff with new saturation methods in schools, homes and public Windward areas.

About the author: Jorene Barut is a communications specialist with the state Department of Education. She handles communications for the Castle and Kahuku complex areas.

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