Distance Learning at Catholic Schools in Hawaii

 In News
In the month of March our schools were advised to close due to the Stay-At-Home order brought on by COVID-19.  Aside from the preschools, all of Hawaii's Catholic Elementary and Secondary schools continued instruction, from home.  Continue on below to learn how some of our schools are able to provide quality distance learning for our students.  Also you'll read a number of ways our schools kept students engaged with encouraging home visits and continued service to their communities during this pandemic.  With many of our schools being small and nimble we were able to adjust to the sometimes daily changes this pandemic brought upon us.  Be assured we're ready for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year!



KINDERGARTEN DIGRAPH ZOOM SCAVENGER HUNT  by:  Kristen Green, Kindergarten Teacher

During our time of distance learning, our kindergarten classes studied and learned about digraphs. As a fun activity during our weekly Zoom meeting, our KB students were asked to go on a scavenger hunt around their homes to find items that either started with or ended with the /ch/ digraph. The students were given one minute to search for their items and then bring it back to their computers to share with the class. I called on the students one at a time to share their item and tell us where they heard the digraph in the word. Students brought back a variety of items like chips, chocolate, chicks, lunch bags, Munchies snacks, chimes, etc. The students enjoyed being able to get up and move during our meeting, and also practiced applying the digraph sound to words that we were learning about. Before distance learning, our class would share items that pertained to the weekly letter sounds and phonics rules that we were working on. This fun scavenger hunt allowed for our students to continue with a familiar classroom routine in a new way!


4th GRADE INTEGRATED LEARNING CURRICULUM by:  LaiYin Ng, 4th Grade Teacher (Reading, Writing, Science); Darwin Nazarino, Physical Education Teacher and Coach; Thomas Grant, Teacher (Technology and Art)

We included the entire 4th grade in our Integrated Learning Curriculum which took place over the 4th quarter of distance learning. It was a step-by-step process which took the students 5 weeks to complete.

We started the activity by explaining that when students read, they can use reading strategies, such as sequencing. We read a few short stories in our Reading Text and discussed the sequence of events in the stories. The students were then asked to create an obstacle course using sequencing of events. The obstacle course was required to have a warm up, 6 stations and a cool down. They first needed to write and explain their obstacle course in a Google Form that I provided using words such as first, later, then, and finally to signal the sequence of events.  The students also needed to share with me the materials they would be using, location, and who would be participating with them.  Students were then required to either take a video, PowerPoint or draw a diagram of their completed Obstacle Course.

Coach Darwin helped us out by creating an obstacle course with all the requirements. In our Google Classroom, Mr. Grant provided step-by-step ways for the students to create and download their completed assignment for everyone to see. Our final step was to have all the students watch and give positive feedback on their classmates’ presentations.

I had a lot of positive feedback from this activity. Many families enjoyed it and said it got them outside and exercising. Parents, siblings and the entire family got involved. A lot of them did not know how to create a video or work in Google Classroom so that was a new skill they acquired. Mr. Grant was always available to help out during the loading and taking of videos.


MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS MAXIMIZE USE OF GOOGLE CLASSROOM & GOOGLE MEET SESSIONS by:  Kristi Sunada, Middle School Teacher (Social Studies) and Nacia Hatch, Middle School Teacher (Science)

The middle school teachers at Holy Family Catholic Academy utilized Google Classroom (prior to Distance Learning) to create and post lesson plans, share class materials (templates, syllabi, surveys, forms, calendars, and resources), show content area videos and podcasts and post assignments. As a result of this integration prior to Distance Learning, we were able to transition quickly because we had been using an online platform to prepare lessons.

In conjunction with simply being able to reach the students through Google Classroom during Distance Learning, we were able to utilize Google Meet Sessions to hold classes to communicate content, answer questions, provide feedback, and connect with the students.  We established breakout groups to complete projects (Rube Goldberg Machines for Science and a Google Earth Scavenger Hunt for Geography Students), participated in small group discussions, and collaborated on assignments.  In addition, for those students who struggled with this modified learning template, we created study halls to assist those who needed a structured time to work and collaborate with their peers to complete assignments, get additional feedback and assistance, and more importantly connect with others.  As a result, these students drastically improved their “classroom” performance, happily engaged with peers and were able to stay on top of their workload.

In addition, to help the students feel connected to their faith, teachers led prayers at the beginning and end of classes and encouraged students to seek out ways to help others in need, whether it was reaching out to get supplies for those who were shut in, lending a hand to complete chores, or offering a friendly ear to listen and engage in conversation.


Mary, Star of the Sea School Student Painting


At Mary Star of the Sea, we are so proud of our students, families, and teachers who have embraced distance learning with an A+.  Our community was already spectacular and through this we have seen even more of our dedication to holistic education.

Though google hangouts, weekly faculty prayer meetings continue as usual, and homeroom teachers meet with their students daily for prayer in the morning and afternoon. Teachers also have provided recorded lessons for children who are not able to attend live sessions and offer continual support through online “office hours”. Even our new kindergarten has been supported with virtual classes and spiritual and academic support despite the challenges of changes in routine for young ones.

There have been mini talents shows for 2nd graders, scavenger hunts for ELL students, and creative “show and tells” in the first grade. We have had live art classes with directed draws as well as online maker’s spaces and genius hour in the third grade. They have created everything from leis for May-day, personal aquariums, social-emotional relaxation tools like “ocean in a bottle”, volcano and black hole simulation and much more.

Our intermediate and middle school continue to strive by maintaining academic accountability for core classes with inquiry based learning. 6th grade created cars. 7th dissected flowers and Spanish students wrote, illustrated, and recorded their own short stories. Religion classes focus on committing bible verses to memory through the use of digital design.

Our 8th graders competed their capstone projects and presented to the entire middle school live through google hangout. Their topics were related to mental health, physical well- being, engineering, and more. They were profound and gave a glimpse of hope for our future. These young individuals are being guided and comforted by God in the time of Covid-19 and their work has shown this experience.

We have received weekly reports and letters of thanks from parents who are so grateful for the dedication of our faculty and ongoing support from our Principal. But it is the teachers too who are so grateful for the support of our administration and parents, and especially the willingness of the children.

This is just a minor snapshot of the outstanding work of our Mary Star of the Sea community who have successfully upheld our STAR student learning expectations. Our students here at MSOS are taught to become…

🌟Self Aware, Confident Individuals

🌟Teachable Lifelong, Independent Learners

🌟Active Christians

🌟Responsible Citizens


Maryknoll School Donates Masks



On May 22, 2020, Maryknoll School donated more than 2,500 reusable handmade fabric masks to two local nonprofit organizations, Lanakila Pacific and Navian Hawaii (formerly Hospice Hawaii), to help kupuna and nurses stay protected against COVID-19. Families, alumni and community members quickly took up needle and thread over the past two-and-a-half weeks and went far above and beyond the goal of providing 1,000 masks, ultimately sewing more than 2,500 masks for the community using repurposed Maryknoll aloha-print fabric. A contactless drive-thru for the donation drop-off was held to follow the social distancing order and ensure everyone’s safety.

“Our families and alumni were excited when we launched this effort to make a positive difference while staying at home,” said Perry Martin, Maryknoll School president, “We immediately received requests from dozens of volunteers for mask kits and some families even took it upon themselves to create additional masks using their own fabric. This service project has brought our community together even more in the spirit of our school’s motto, Noblesse Oblige, which means ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’”

Maryknoll launched the mask donation project on May 5 as part of its #GivingTuesdayNow campaign, a global effort across the nonprofit sector to inspire charitable giving during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to the masks, students also wrote personal letters to help the kupuna stay in good spirits as part of Lanakila Pacific’s Letters2OurKupuna project.

“We are honored and grateful by all the support from the Maryknoll community,” said Rona Fukumoto, President of Lanakila Pacific, “The masks and letters will bring both joy and comfort to kupuna in our community.”

“Thank you, Maryknoll families!” said Tori Abe Carapelho, President & CEO of Navian Hawaii, “We express our heartfelt appreciation for the masks that will help keep our nurses safe.”



Although students were not able to participate in normal May Day festivities, SHS administrators, faculty, and staff wanted to still share their aloha with this hula number.  View video HERE.


ST. ANN SCHOOL – Kaneohe, Oahu

All teachers in grades K-8 zoomed lessons and maintained all standards and exit level objectives are being met.  Students in Jr. High utilized google docs, flipgrids, vocabulary.com, go math online lessons, and additional online platforms that teachers tailored to their students needs.  Teachers and students participated in project based learning and were able to bring science lessons alive with created home science labs.  One sixth grader built a bridge out of popsicle sticks that was able to hold her 4 year old sister, presented details on video of how she built the bridge and showed her sister suspended in air seated on the bridge.  What a fantastic project to show what she learned.  Teachers were able to continue teaching lessons and all students will have a complete report card with grades that reflect their 4th quarter learned knowledge in Distance Learning.

Art, Music and PE teachers continued their lessons on zoom and through online platforms that engaged students in learning these subjects.  Students were happy to participate and loved learning new art techniques, music theory and songs and writing reports on classical composers and exercising with Kid friendly zumba videos.

Our Catholic Identity has remained intact as we finish out the school year in distance learning.  We held our Holy Thursday Prayer Service, Class retreats, May Crowning and St. Damien Prayer Service (that was broadcasted from the Chapel) so that our students could see the tabernacle) and the end of the year Prayer Service all on zoom.

Grades 2,3 and 8th participated in their retreat as planned via zoom.  Students prayed, sang songs and experienced activities and group sharing that supported the theme of their retreat.

Normally graduation is celebrated on Sunday at 11:30 mass followed by the ceremony in church.  We will celebrate our 8th grade graduation this Saturday as usual. The only change is that there will be no mass.  At 9a we will begin with a Prayer Service (admin and Fr. in the chapel) with students and families on zoom.  Followed by the ceremony on zoom.  Even though we are unable to physically be together we have continued each already scheduled activity on zoom.

While on Distance Learning we continued to have morning assembly on Mondays on zoom.  These assemblies included the raising of the flag followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Then prayer and announcements.  It was fantastic to see all the students faces and we were so excited to see family members participating as well.  Parents enjoyed the connection and students welcomed the opportunity to see their class/school mates.  We were able to continue to build community in each zoom activity.

We were also able to celebrate May Day together on zoom.  Students and families sent in a 30 sec. video of them singing, dancing a hula, showing how they cook a particular food all to celebrate the many cultures we have here in hawaii.  Everyone dressed in aloha attire and watched the video compilation.  We celebrated our 8th graders as the court and they introduced the monarch they learned about all year to prepare to represent on May Day. To end May Day everyone chanted the Mahalo chant and said goodbye to our retiring faculty and staff. COVID19 did not stop us from celebrating May Day.  We just did it in a new and exciting way that still allowed us to celebrate together and create memories.


ST. CATHERINE SCHOOL – Kapa’a, Kaua’i & ST. THERESA SCHOOL – Kekaha, Kaua’i

Read The Garden Island’s exceptional coverage on St. Catherine School:


KAPA‘A — Monday was the first day back from spring break for St. Catherine School second grader Kaylee Fujii, and in celebration, she took a few extra turns on her bicycle at the school’s turnaround.

“They love school,” said Douglas Fujii, Kaylee’s dad who watched the second grader tool around the turnaround loop while watching Taylor Fujii, a preschool (PK4) student. “They are excited to be back.”

St. Catherine School principal David Adams smiled.

“It’s good that everything in this school is spread out,” he said. “They can come in for their educational packets, and do a few extra laps to enjoy the fresh air.”

The school opened…CLICK HERE TO READ MORE



LIHU‘E — The St. Catherine School and St. Theresa School will finish the school year with Off Campus Education programs, announced Dr. Mike Rockers, the superintendent of Hawai‘i Catholic Schools during the weekend.

“We love our children,” said David Adams, the St. Catherine School principal. “It is with a heavy heart that we announce that our school district will not be returning to on-campus education in the 2019-2020 school year. This is not the news that any of us had wished for, but we will fully comply with all directives and expectations to support an end to this pandemic.”

Under the directives announced by Rockers, academics are still in place, and attendance is still being taken…CLICK HERE TO READ MORE



KAPA‘A — St. Catherine School principal David Adams said the reopening of the preschool Thursday is a sure sign of hope during these times of COVID-19.

St. Catherine School staff of three teachers — Ginger Otto, director, Zibeth Hada, and Keala Unatoa — welcomed eight students to a modified 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. schedule following lengthy discussions with health officials, government and church leaders.

“Mahalo nui loa to all the supportive people in the various levels of government, the health officials, and the Hawai‘i Catholic School District,” Adams said. “Without their guidance and direction, we would not have been able to reach this point of a modified reopening.”

Preschool student Triton Lizama was celebrating a morning out in the school’s gardens, tending to various tasks that included raking the gravel, harvesting and planting seeds, and topping off the task list by watering the landscaping fronting the classrooms.

“That’s a sunflower,” Lizama said. “You can… CLICK HERE TO READ MORE


St. John Vianney School Preschool Teachers Visit Students at Home

St. John Vianney School Preschool Teachers Visit Students at Home


Watch how the Class of 2020 students walked with Christ throughout their years at SJV  https://bit.ly/sjvclassof2020

May Day   https://bit.ly/sjvmayday2020

Teacher Appreciation Video  bit.ly/SJVTA2020

Our preschool teachers/staff visited each three year old student at home [see pictures]


ST. JOSEPH SCHOOL – Hilo, Hawai’i

Principal Pa’ekukui shares, “there are so many things that I could report on…but one of the most moving projects, events that is on-going, is the fact that St. Joseph School, Hilo has been allowed to serve meals daily to Hilo’s student population.   I believe we are the only Catholic school statewide providing meals for ALL students in Hilo age 18 and below.  The Seamless Summer Option is a program that allows schools who follow the application process to serve meals during the COVID 19 crisis.  St. Joseph School serves about 200 meals a day.  In my small efforts to assist with the meal service, I have witnessed first hand, the miracles of the loaves and fish…seeing cars up the road thinking that we will not be able to serve all those who are hungry…but in true miracle fashion, all were fed.  We continue to serve meals. There is an opportunity to serve through the summer.  What a blessing.”


ST. LOUIS SCHOOL – Honolulu, Oahu

Many families sent messages of “Thanks” via email to school Principal, Dr. Oshiro, in gratitude for creating an environment online where their sons were able to excel.  For example, one of the creative online assignments required parents to work together with their middle school child to move an object from one place to another without touching it.  See a student video HERE.  More info on St. Louis School’s Distance Learning program can be found HERE.

Mass was held once per week and students took part in two online praise and worship services.  Baccalaureate Mass was held online and students prayed together at the start and end of each school day online.

For service to our community, the students and staff created devices that can be used to make masks for doctors in the hospital using their 3-D printers.

In gratitude, the school would like to thank Dwight Otani ’73 and Mike Irish Hon. ’17 for providing free fruits, vegetables, and Hawaiian food for all the graduates when they came back to campus to clear their lockers.


ST. PATRICK SCHOOL – Honolulu, Oahu

All children can learn, succeed and discover their own talents. This belief inspires Saint Patrick School’s dedication to a quality Catholic education that sets students on this journey of discovery and fulfillment. For 89 years, this preschool to grade 8 school has been committed to educational excellence. It offers a focused program built on academic rigor, mastery of 21st century skills, service to the common good, and a solid foundation in Catholic values and ethics.

As a private school under the sponsorship of the Brothers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Saint Patrick School continues the spirit and core values of its founders, the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts. Caring teachers create a positive learning environment through programs and extra-curricular activities that foster life skills in leadership, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication. Parents and extended family are involved partners in their child’s education through active communication and connections. The school subscribes to “Effective Schools” research, Cooperative Learning Instruction and “Best Practices” in curriculum and learning.

“Our learning environment encourages students to acquire values, ethics and morals that guide their life decisions and their responsibilities to family, community and the world,” says Sister Anne DeCosta, Saint Patrick School’s vice president and director of education.

“In these times, we are also mindful that students need a healthy place to learn and their parents must be assured of peace of mind,” she adds. Following the pandemic outbreak this spring, Saint Patrick School established and refined protocols during the summer to ensure a safe and secure campus this fall school year.

Successful learning for the youngest students at Saint Patrick School begins with the foundation they develop at the Early Learning Program. Age-appropriate projects, learning centers and play activities at ELP are guided by each child considered as a unique individual and a lifelong learner who can learn “how to learn.” In grades 1 through 4, students expand their knowledge in language arts, social studies and science. They also explore interests and discover new talents through music, art and language (Japanese or Mandarin).

Students in grades 5 through 8 deepen their knowledge of core academics and widen their interests with diverse electives, ranging from theater arts to robotics and astronomy. The wireless campus encourages students to use technology and e-learning opportunities wisely as learning tools. As a member of the Catholic Schools League, upper grade students can participate in competitive team sports. These include girls and boys volleyball, girls and boys basketball, and track and field.

“When our students graduate from Saint Patrick, they are well prepared to go on to a high school of their choice and to face whatever challenges await them to make the world better,” says Sister Anne.


ST. THERESA SCHOOL – Honolulu, Oahu

During Distance Learning, this 4th grade project shows just how bright our kids are and how amazing their work can be.  Research was done together as class work during Distance Learning where one of the major subjects included Physics (magnetism, electricity, energy, force, and simple machines).  Jacob G. took his project to the next level and it is evident in the time, effort, and creativity he put in on this assignment, which you can view HERE.  He also made a beautiful thank you tribute to our teachers.  Watch the Religion class experience for 2nd graders HERE.  The school’s administration, faculty, and staff miss their students so much during this time on uncertainty that they made this VIDEO to remind all that they will be together once again.  With God, everything is possible!


Recommended Posts
CUH Strategy and Innovation