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Hawaiian immersion preschool celebrates milestone

June 4, 2014
The Associated Press

KAILUA-KONA (AP) - A preschool that educates children in the Hawaiian language is celebrating 20 years in West Hawaii.

Punana Leo o Kona opened in 1994 in a two-story house in Holualoa. Now housed on the grounds of Christ Church Episcopal in Kealakekua, the preschool accepts 15 students a year.

The preschoolers are prepared for kindergarten while becoming fluent in Hawaiian. Nearly all of the school's 3- to 5-year-old children are fully fluent within three to four months.

Enrollment is not limited to those of Native Hawaiian ancestry, and the school has served more than 200 families over the years. Tuition costs $7,425 a year.

The school is one of 11 statewide operated by Aha Punana Leo Inc., which led a movement to remove a ban in 1986 on teaching the Hawaiian language in public schools.

Punana Leo o Kona will mark its anniversary with a fundraiser banquet on Saturday, West Hawaii Today reported.



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