An Educational Consultant’s Impressions of Hawaii Preparatory Academy

Hawaii Preparatory Academy is a school more tied and connected to its surroundings than any I’ve ever seen. The islands and the school’s location is one of the most spectacular spots on earth.

| October 16, 2012

HPA (www.hpa.edu / view profile) is a school more tied and connected to its surroundings than any I’ve ever seen.

The islands and the school’s location is one of the most spectacular spots on earth. It must be amazing to live, work and got to school in this setting.

For students, HPA matches the richness of the natural environment with a scholastic richness of opportunity and experience. Rich and varied curriculums help students develop a broad understanding of the local community and develop a sense of place in the world.

The innovative creative faculty, encourages students to explore new opportunities and to step into new activities. HPA students spend a great deal of time with teachers and coaches outside of the classroom. HPA certainly has solid academics, visual and performing arts, athletics, and equestrian programs.

HPA shines most brightly though when students go out into and connect with the unique opportunities of the Islands. It's in these experiences where the real magic happens. HPA students take on leadership roles and begin to become/grow into themselves.

One student mentioned the school instills self-discipline, independence, and cultivates excellent work and study habits. Another student spoke about getting involved in theater and wanting to continue when she leaves HPA. Several students spoke about becoming involved in HPA’s sea turtle tagging and conservation work. “I would have never been part [at another school] of the tagging of green sea turtles."

HPA students are deeply involved in the school’s Energy Lab which gives them hands-on experience in working with and using alternative energies. HPA students have ready access to the greatest variety of renewable resources on the planet- geothermal, ocean thermal, wind and solar, sustainable agriculture. This is truly a gift unlike any other location in the world.

Native flora and fauna also take HPA students beyond the classroom. Students are involved in mapping the ancient Hawaiian planting system in the hills above campus. Students also conduct experiments in electrical current and pathways- learning planning and research skills that culminate in practical, workable experiments that could pay surprising dividends in a world hungry for new thinking in sustainable energy and other resources.

HPA’s Energy Lab is more than an amazing building. What Dr. Wiecking is doing with his students in hands on technology is beyond any program I’ve seen on the mainland. Dr. Wiecking guides discussion, exploration, and self-directed learning. I watched as one HPA student wore a headset that mapped his brain waves on an Apple Computer screen; examining right side/left side brain activity is his senior project.

Another student was monitoring how much energy a resort was using over a year and found out they were being over charged for their kilowatt hours. A third student was working on his photography; take a look below.

Not only were the students learning, they were engaged and producing results and feedback with their experiments. HPA is a small hub for local and global research. HPA partners with schools and colleges from Germany, New Zealand, and Central America with the Energy Lab’s video conferencing center.

Partnerships with colleges and universities provide HPA students the chance to work side-by- side on cutting edge research with scientists, professors, undergraduates and graduate students giving them experience with projects unavailable to their peers and an edge on college placement.

Yes, it is a long way to travel for a boarding school from the east coast. The “Big Island” is a potent landscape of living volcanoes, sweeping coastlines and treasured historical sites not to mention the many ecosystems unique to the island.

I can see many students taking advantage of what HPA has to offer here at HPA – congratulations to all at HPA on making a difference in our world!