islander scholars

information for schools

The following information is for principals of Hawaiʻi public and charter schools
interested in participating in the 2018 Islander Scholars program.
A PDF version of this information is available here.

important dates

  • January 12, 2018: Deadline for principals to submit their intent to participate form
  • February 28, 2018: Deadline for principals to select an Islander Scholar and provide information on this selection form
  • March 16, 2018: Official day of notification and award to 2018 Islander Scholars
  • April 6, 2018: Deadline for Islander Scholars to affirm their participation and provide information
  • June 1 – 3, 2018: Islander Scholars Academy on Oʻahu

criteria for selection

Principals will select one junior in their school (graduating class of 2019) to be an Islander Scholar based on six Hawaiʻi State Department of Education learning outcomes. These Hawaiʻi-based outcomes, called Nā Hopena Aʻo or HĀ, emphasize a desired readiness of the student for college, career, and community after high school. The HĀ outcomes include a strengthened sense of Belonging; Responsibility; Excellence; Aloha; Total Well-Being; and Hawaiʻi, spelling out BREATH. Islander Scholars are students who exemplify these outcomes through their actions and behaviors in school, community and/or families. 

The criteria to become an Islander Scholar do not include typical measures of a student’s achievement and potential, such as a student’s grade point average, test scores, community service activities, or sports. Rather, Islander Scholars emphasizes the student’s character, values, and actions that lead to a stronger HĀ in themselves and others. In many ways, Islander Scholars is for the exemplary young person who deserves recognition but for whom no award currently exists.

HĀ outcomes were co-created by community members, educators and a state Board of Education (BOE) Advisory group and then approved as a policy for the whole system.

We all know students who exhibit HĀ outcomes and we are inviting principals to identify those students who are actively strengthening their sense of:

  • Belonging: students have a strong foundation of relationships and are able to interact respectfully for the betterment of self and others.
  • Responsibility: students carry a responsibility for self, family, community and the larger society and are mindful of the values, needs, and welfare of others.
  • Excellence: students believe they can succeed in school and life, care about the quality of their work, and strive beyond what is expected of them.
  • Aloha: students show care and respect for the people and places they meet, build trust, and lead for the good of the whole.
  • Total Well-Being: students practice a healthy lifestyle that improves mind, body, heart and spirit of themselves, family, ʻāina, community, and world.
  • Hawaiʻi: students are enriched by Hawaiʻi’s unique history, diversity, indigenous language and culture, and they can navigate across cultures and communities and are stewards of this homeland.

frequently asked questions

▶︎ What are the requirements to participate in Islander Scholars? What do I have to do?

Principals who want to select an Islander Scholar are required to submit their school's intent to participate by filling out this online form anytime before January 12, 2018.

By participating in Islander Scholars, you are agreeing to:

  • Select one junior to be honored as an Islander Scholar based on the HĀ criteria.
  • Notify Islander Institute of your selection by February 28, 2018.
  • Present the chosen Islander Scholar with their award at your school by March 16, 2018.
  • Meet with Islander Institute and the Islander Scholar once between April and May 2018.
  • Act as a liaison between your Islander Scholar and Islander Institute, which may include communication with family members and logistics planning (some principals assign this role to someone else at the school).

▶︎ What are the student’s commitments if selected as an Islander Scholar?

Students selected as Islander Scholars will commit to:

  • Meet with their principal and our team to share about their responsibility to themselves, school, and community.
  • Participate fully in the Islander Scholars Academy from June 1 to 3, 2018 at Camp Pālehua on Oʻahu. Expenses will be covered by the Islander Scholars program.
  • Represent the values and actions expected of an Islander Scholar in their schools and communities in their senior year.

▶︎ What do students receive as an Islander Scholar?

Students receive the recognition of being named an Islander Scholar, which may include publicity in media releases, school announcements, and sponsor announcements. This recognition will remain as a unique honor on the student’s record and resume.

Islander Scholars will also participate in a three-day academy where they will learn leadership skills and have a once-in-a-lifetime experience of reflection and fellowship. Islander Scholars will become part of a network of like-minded students and mentors from across Hawaiʻi, who can help guide and support them in their life journeys.

▶︎ What will happen in the three-day Islander Scholars Academy?

Islander Scholars will build connections with one another and deepen their understanding of themselves and their communities through hands-on activities working on the ʻāina, skill-building practices, individual reflection, team building exercises, and facilitated discussions. They will gain access to mentors, peers, kūpuna, and cultural practitioners who can help plan for and guide them through their senior year and post-high school plans. They will also be joined by Islander Scholars from previous years.

▶︎ What is the selection process?

Principals have sole discretion in selecting an Islander Scholar based on the criteria laid out by Nā Hopena Aʻo or HĀ. In the past, principals have employed various processes, including delegating the responsibility to teachers and counselors, creating selection committees, having students submit essays, and involving community leaders. At the end of your process, we ask that you simply submit your choice for Islander Scholar by February 28, 2018 on this form.

▶︎ How do I know if s/he demonstrates HĀ?

There is no easy or formulaic answer to this, other than it is based on your instincts, observation, and interaction with the student. The six outcomes are interdependent and work together as a whole. Thus, a demonstration of HĀ will show up in the impact the student has on her/his peers, teachers, families, schools and communities. A selection process that sets intention to HĀ will result in a student that embodies HĀ, representative of the whole school.

The organizers of Islander Scholars completely trust our school principals as professionals, as educators who care deeply about their students, and as community leaders in Hawaiʻi.

▶︎ Do I have to let the student know I’m selecting her/him for Islander Scholars?

We encourage you or their nominator to have a conversation with the student about their availability and commitment to be an Islander Scholar. We recommend that you ensure your student is able to attend the Academy from June 1 to 3, 2018 prior to your selection. If the student you have in mind is unable to attend, please contact us and we can discuss options.

You will be in charge of officially informing your student by March 16, 2018 in a way we hope to be special and joyous. You will receive materials via USPS mail to present to your Islander Scholar. The way in which it is announced is left up to you; it can be small or school wide. Some past presentations have been in classrooms and school wide assemblies, and have included parents, teachers, counselors, past Islander Scholars, and/or other members of the school community. 

▶︎ Why high school juniors and not seniors?

Being selected as an Islander Scholar is as much a responsibility as it is an honor. The expectation for Islander Scholars is to return to their schools and communities in their senior year as role models who will act on the kuleana associated with this recognition.

▶︎ Who is responsible for this program?

Islander Scholars is led by the Islander Institute in partnership with Mālama Learning Center, based in Kapolei, Oʻahu. The team includes other distinguished community leaders who share a deep commitment to Hawaiʻi. Islander Institute works with community-based organizations and leaders who are committed to make Hawaiʻi better by focusing on core island values like building strong communities, caring for our land, honoring traditions, and living a life of responsibility and aloha.

▶︎ Who do I contact for questions?

Any questions can be emailed to Josh Levinson at



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