HONOLULU - The Waihee Elementary School custodians, nicknamed the "Waihee Warriors," were named the "State Team of the Year" in the 2011 Governor's Awards Program, announced in a ceremony at the state Capitol on Friday.
The Waihee crew of Kazuhisa Hamaguchi, Michael Yahiro, Johanna Nakamura, Josefina Pascua, Valente Madamba and Rolando Cudal represented the state Department of Education in the competition among state agencies that recognizes excellence in state government.
The Waihee Warriors were among 16 teams from state agencies, including the state Department of Transportation's Honolulu International Airport Grass Cutting Team and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' Kalalau Management Blitz Team.
This is the second "team" win for the state DOE in the last three years, said Sandy Goya, state DOE spokeswoman.
The Moanalua Elementary School cafeteria staff captured the award in 2009.
In a Maui News report last month announcing the Waihee Warriors' state DOE honors, Principal Leila Hayashida cited the improved landscaping at the school due to the efforts of the custodial crew.
"We have this great tropical feel that really matches the gorgeous West Maui Mountains," she said.
The custodians repaired the irrigation system, replanted grass in dirt areas and added "gorgeous" tropical plants that both beautify the campus and provide flowers and foliage to serve as decorations for the school's May Day celebrations, she said.
"They're always here to help," she said. "They help the teachers, the kids and the community."