FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - The Fort Shafter Library staff celebrated the completion of a three-month renovation project in a festive setting, here, March 10.

Kahu (Reverend) Kaleo Patterson presided over an audience of library staff members, parents, children and special guests, while he performed a Hawaiian prayer and ti leaf blessing.

A special hula program, a dance form accompanied by chant or song, was performed by Soldiers or spouses of active duty Soldiers stationed at Schofield Barracks. It was their first public performance after only a few weeks of classes together.

"To bring together a group of women, teach them traditional hula, experience the Hawaiian culture and grow together as a hula halau (dance group) was an unbelievable experience with many 'chicken-skin' moments," said Annelle Amaral, native Hawaiian liaison for U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.

Several months ago, the garrison's Native Hawaiian Liaison office and Army Community Service joined forces to offer military families a Native Hawaiian lecture series at the Sgt. Yano Library, Schofield Barracks.

The success of that hands-on series led to the hula classes.

"We are so excited about learning the Hawaiian culture through hula," said Carolyn Simmons, halau member. "We are eager to learn more about the culture and arts and crafts. It is an experience that I will take with me and teach my family long after we leave Hawaii."

Being a member of a hula halau encourages fellowship, trust and everlasting friendships. The members work together to design, sew their hula skirts and tie-dye the tops they wear.

The hula presentation was a highlight for Sgt. 1st Class Dwayne Simmons, a member of the 25th Infantry Division band, whose wife was getting ready to dance.

"I am so excited for Carolyn as she prepares to show me what she has learned in just a few weeks," he said. "I am proud of her and know she will do well with her new friends."

The class was taught by Kumu (teacher) hula Ladd Hele Loa, a fourth generation Kumu hula from the Beamer family, a family long recognized for their Hawaiian hula and music.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the traditional untying of the maile lei was done and Patterson welcomed everyone to the renovated library with, "E komo mai (welcome)."

Major library improvements included the removal of ceiling fans and window air conditioning to install a new, central air conditioning system. Double-pane energy efficient windows also replaced the older jalousie windows.

"Tour our renovated facilities and view the improvements done to make your visits more pleasurable," said Donna Sviantek, Fort Shafter librarian.

Page last updated Fri March 19th, 2010 at 17:56