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Milpitas Unified School District

What a great experience it was to spend two days with the kids enrolled in Ms. Rozina Kapadia’s special Day Class. These classes serve students who are identified as having moderate to severe disabilities. They were all in middle school to high school. One of my long time hula students, Trisha is an assistant principal for Thomas Russel Middle School in Milpitas. It was Trisha that approached us about including them as part of the “Spread a Little Aloha” tour.

Day 1

We began on Monday with a hula performance on the blacktop for several classes. Of course, I was a bit frazzled when I arrived at the school. To start, I was running late, and still had to pick-up one of the girls from her house (I’m so poor at directions!…I borrowed Anson’s car that has the GPS, but I don’t trust the lady sometimes)…when we did arrive, my iboom (ipod speaker) wasn’t working! Kanoe suggested playing the music from our car since the performance was outside. It looked like we were at a car show with the doors open to let the music escape. Kind of embarrassing, but it worked…Who knew that those unnecessary Bose surround sound speakers in the car that I told the dealer we didn’t need would come in handy one day!

On with the show! Our girls were ready to dance, and had many of them clapping along while we performed. After the show, the students had lunch, and we went to the classroom to prepare for our lei making craft that we’d be teaching them.

When they returned to the classroom from lunch, our girls all found a buddy and sat at their tables with them. They introduced themselves and began to work with them on their leis. I am so proud of them, and how they interacted. They were patient, and quickly learned how connect with their buddy. It seemed that they instinctively knew what to do, and the students could feel that they cared about them, and that they wanted to be there to spend some time with them.

Tiffany was so calm, and her voice was extra soothing when she worked with Alvin, who would get excited at times, and his body rock. She was so great with him. Kanoe’s buddy was Adelle, and he talked a lot, which was great because she could have been named Kathy because she chats so much! She found that he would repeat her questions, or whatever she would say….later when I came back to her table, she began saying his name first, which seemed to help her to better communicate with him. For example, “Adelle, do you have any brother and sisters?”

All of the students were so great, so interesting, and I applaud Ms. Kapadia and the other classroom helpers for their patience! They are incredible with them. They were all so different, and of course, there is no filter…they blurt out whatever comes to mind. Very honest, and pure! One of the boys didn’t talk much, and I wondered what he was thinking about all of these girls there to spend the day with them. One of the kids could talk and talk, and had such an awesome memory….don’t want to say anything in front of him you wouldn’t want to be remembered or repeated forever. He had a charming staccato way of speaking that made me smile. When they completed their leis, they put them on, some only fit on their heads as a lei po’o, and they all seemed so proud!

Day 2

We met at the school, prepared to walk to lunch with their buddies. When we arrived we were greeted by the students, who were wearing their leis. They shared brightly decorated thank-you cards for each of our girls. It was at that time that we presented Ms. Kapadia a check for $1000 to go towards any classroom/field-trip expenses. She was so happy, and it made all of us feel so happy that we were given the opportunity to spend some time with her class.

It was a nice walk to a small Mexican restaurant on Milpitas Boulevard. They had intended on going to L&L, but they didn’t open early enough. The students of Ms. Kapadia’s class knew the way, and we followed alongside them. Adelle’s sole of his slipper needed some “shoe goo”, or tape as it was flapping around, and he walked with one leg raised much higher than the other. They all went to the register and ordered their food. The students each had their own money, and although some wanted menu items that they didn’t have enough money for, they learned that they had to select something else. I think at first, our girls would have just given them the extra few cents they needed, but found that it was part of their lesson. They learned manners, and how to wait to eat their food until their buddy also had their food.

Some of our kids sat inside, and others outside at the round picnic tables with the old style round umbrellas. I think it may have been an old dairy bell or another type of restaurant years ago. Food was great, and portions were huge. After lunch we headed back to the school, and said “a hui hou” to our new friends. We’re thinking of the possibility of spending some time with them during the school year if our schedules allow.

This was a wonderful opportunity to meet some awesome kids! We learned so much from them!


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