News: Marines, Kailua Elementary splash into summer
Story by Kristen Wong
KAILUA, Hawaii - Kailua Elementary School students and Manpower, Personnel and Administration Marines defied the scorching sun, drenching each other with hoses, buckets and sponges teeming with cool water, on the campus lawn, May 17.
The MPA Marines assisted with the school’s Ho Ike picnic and water play day, which included stations featuring various water activities like a makeshift water slide, sprinkler and relay races.
For a number of years, the Marines and sailors of MPA have volunteered with Kailua Elementary through the Adopt-a-School Program. The Marines and sailors provided various types of support, from helping the children during their physical education classes, or providing support during the last day of school. Throughout the year they have attended and assisted with numerous events at the school, including luncheons, fun fairs, flag raising ceremonies and a fitness meet.
"Having (the) military come to our campus to provide this kind of support is always welcome," said Lanelle Hibbs, the principal of Kailua Elementary. "They learn about how (the Marines are) giving service to their country. I think it’s a great opportunity."
Hibbs said the Marines visiting the school gives the students the opportunity to find a role model they can admire. The students have also bonded with the Marines as they've shared meals and chatted together.
“The teachers are happy that we’re out there,” said Sgt. Demetrio DiazCabrera, the base’s MPA chief. “Kids like to see us out there helping them out.”
The native of Santiago, Dominican Republic, took over duties as the volunteer coordinator last November. Each time Kailua Elementary requests volunteers, DiazCabrera emails everyone in the department.
Occasionally there are more than enough willing to volunteer.
Upbeat music like “Electric Slide” and “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” played as faculty and staff escorted children to individual stations.
More than half a dozen Marines split up among the stations and took on various tasks, from explaining the rules of the games to replenishing water buckets.
Cpl. Geomary Diaz, an administrative clerk with MPA gave high fives to children as tried the water limbo station, walking beneath a low pole covered in water hoses. Diaz herself even low-crawled beneath the pole with the children, covering her uniform in mud, grass and water.
“The sixth graders are very competitive,” Diaz said. “They wanted to race me in low-crawling. Those little girls and boys are like spider monkeys.”
Lance Cpl. Evan DuBose, an administrative clerk with Installation Personnel Administration Center, manned a water cup race station, instructing the children to run up to a bucket of water with a red cup, and holding a full cup of water on their head, run back to their line and empty the cup in an empty trash bin.
DuBose, 21, of Crystal Lake, Ill., said it was fun volunteering at Kailua Elementary, especially when he has the opportunity to interact with the children. During this event, his interaction included water fights with the children.
"I always see the joy and the smile on the faces of the children when (the service members) come on to our campus," Hibbs said. "(The students) look forward to having them work in their classroom or in the school or even just seeing them ... they really respect and look up to our Marines and it’s so wonderful that they can provide a service and they do it willingly. I always see that they’re willing to help and that’s always so positive for me."
Pfc. Steven Mafla, administrative clerk with IPAC, manned a station in which children hopped across a basketball court holding a beach ball between their feet. He said active duty service members never visited his school when he was a child, so he thought it was cool to be able to engage with the community. While he spent time at the school, the 20-year-old native of Pomona, Calif., also fielded many questions from the inquisitive children, who asked him about military haircuts and the scariest thing he’s ever had to do as a Marine.
Lance Cpl. Juan David Taborda, an administrative clerk with the adjutant’s office, filled sponges with water and handed them to the lines of children who handed the sponge over and under to the back of the line. Taborda said the kindergarteners were the best because they devoted the most time to playing the games.
As the water fun finished for the day, the Marines enjoyed sweet, cold treats provided by the school, and sat in the sun to dry before returning to work.
DiazCabrera said the group hopes to have new events in the future, such as working dog demonstrations with the provost marshal’s office and bringing military vehicles for the children to see, such as humvees.
For DiazCabrera, the best part about volunteering is receiving thanks from the children after each event and “knowing that at the end that we did a good job for the kids.”