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AASL President Update #3 May 7, 2012

Posted by Carl Harvey II in AASL News, AASL Officers, ESEA Reauthorization.
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Where does the time go?  I had this ready to post at the end of March and then the response to the White House petition arrived, it turned to April, and I’m just now getting back to it.  Anyway, the update below covers until the end of April.  One last update will be out at the end of June.


  • The major item from the last few months was the White House Petition for School Libraries.  With the support of ALA President Molly Raphael, the ALA Division Presidents, and many of our vendors and external partners, the petition was promoted at every major event.  The petition surpassed the goal of 25,000 signatures nearly a week before the Feb. 4 deadline, which ensures it will receive the attention and response of White House policy experts.  The official reply was sent Friday, April 15th.  You can read some of my comments about the reply on the blog.
  • I met with OCLC during the Public Library Association Conference in Philadelphia to talk about school and public library opportunities for collaboration.
  • National Legislative Day was held in Washington D.C.   AASL met with the National Education Association, staffers to the House Education and Workforce committee on both sides of the aisle, and the Office of Civil Rights  at the US Department of Education.  All were good conversations.  We need to continue to be aware of what is happening in Washington and help  them make that connection of what an effective school library program can do for student learning.
ALA President Molly Raphael, Senator Jack Reed, and AASL President Carl Harvey
  • The highlight of NLLD for me was when I presented Senator Jack Reed with the 2012 AASL Crystal Apple.  He has long been a strong advocate for school libraries in Congress.  Last year his efforts got almost $14 million in dedicated funding for school libraries.

The Board met during ALA Midwinter and the following action was taken:

  • The Board voted to propose a restructure of the AASL governance.  Under the proposal, the position of Director-Elect would be eliminated.  The Nominations Committee would be replaced with the Leadership Development Committee.  All of these changes are pending membership approval of revised bylaws and will be phased in over time.  (You can read some commonly asked questions about the Leadership Development Committee in ALA Connect at: http://connect.ala.org/node/172666)
  • Established several task forces:
    • Senior Projects / Capstone Projects Task Force – to create resources for librarians who work with senior projects.
    • Best Apps for Teaching and Learning Task Force – to begin setting up a recognition process and structure.
    • Quantitative Measures Task Force – to investigate quantitative measures and recommend a direction for AASL.
    • Internet Access Task Force – to write a white paper about Internet and school libraries.
  • Approved a position statement on The Role of the School Library Program.
  • Formed working groups to:
    • Submit a proposal for Emerging Leaders projects.
    • Investigate a position statement on Collection Balance.


Board Votes (after Midwinter):

  • Vice-Chairs – The Board voted to accept a recommendation of the Bylaws committee that AASL committees have a vice-chair.  The mmittee will choose the vice-chair from the members of the committee.  The AASL President will retain the right to appoint committee chairs each year.
  • Pre-Service Task Force – The Board voted to extend this task force for another year.
  • Project Red – Voted to support this program (with our name).
  • Making Progress: Rethinking State and School District Policies Concerning Mobile Technologies and Social Media document – Voted to help disseminate the report.

Press Interviews:

White House Petition for School Libraries – Next Steps February 6, 2012

Posted by Carl Harvey II in Advocacy, ESEA Reauthorization, SKILLS Act.
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Last week was truly an exciting experience.  The petition for school libraries that I posted on the White House “We the People” site reached 25,000 signatures.  As of this moment, it is nearing 27,000.   I, along with many others, I could tell from Facebook and Twitter, were clicking the refresh button often as the ticker got closer and closer.




I think with everything you do, there is always something to be learned from the experience.  For me, the lesson I learned was anything is possible when everyone is working together.  From ALA President Molly Raphael’s School Library Task Force to the ALA Think Tank on Facebook who bought ads on Facebook to the vendor community who sent out messages to all their customers to the librarians and their supporters who convinced their families to all sign the petition to the ALA divisions who helped pull in the entire library community to the other national organizations and associations that partner with AASL who spread the word through their websites and memberships as well, it truly was a team effort.   This group certainly took full advantage of the powers of social media.  It was amazing to watch the power of everyone working together and the results paying off when we crossed the magic 25,000 line.

We now wait for the White House response.  There is no timeline given by the White House other than they will respond as quickly as is possible.  The response will be posted on the White House – We the People – website and everyone who signed the petition will receive the response via email.  There is no guarantee that the response will include any action from the White House.   However, the petition will help raise awareness of the issues facing school libraries today.

But, the petition is not a silver bullet.  As we work towards getting school libraries included in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it will be important that we keep up the effort.  We need to be talking to Senators and Representatives, encouraging them to support the Skills Act.  On January 17, U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ, 7th), along with Representatives Rush Holt (D-NJ, 12th) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA, 6th) introduced the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLS) Act. The SKILLS Act, numbered H.R. 3776 in the House, is a companion bill of S. 1328 that was introduced in the Senate by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) back on July 6, 2011.

The Congressional Briefing in October, followed by the petition, have been great steps in advocating for school libraries at the Federal level.  But they are just steps in the journey.  We’ve not reach our destination, so we have to keep moving forward as we paint a picture for our legislators about what today’s school libraries can do for students and the importance for each and every student to have access to a quality school library program!

AASL President Update #2 January 3, 2012

Posted by Carl Harvey II in AASL News, AASL Officers.
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From time to time, I’d like to share with you what AASL has been working on from my perspective as AASL President.  Here are just some of the highlights between October 1st and December 31st.  From our amazing member leaders to our AASL staff, it is amazing to see all that has been happening in a short time.

Events / Projects

  • Most of my time from October to December was spent traveling.  I had the chance to visit some wonderful state conferences as well as our own AASL National Conference.   AASL has a rotation where the President, President-Elect, and Past-President visit a total of 10 state conferences each year.  It brings a connection between the state and national organizations.  Of the five states I’ve visiting this school year, four had conferences this fall.

Below are links to blog postings with my thoughts from the various events.

Board Votes

The Board continues to work in between our Annual and Midwinter meetings.

  • The Board voted to ask the ALA Education Committee for a permanent seat for the ESLS section on their committee.
  • The Board voted to approve Columbus, Ohio as the location of the 2015 AASL Conference.
  • The Board voted to sign on as a stakeholder of the National Center for Literacy Education.

Press Interviews

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the work of AASL.

CEO / CSO Symposium April 21, 2011

Posted by Carl Harvey II in AASL Officers, Professional Development.
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Last week I traveled to Chicago to attend the CEO Symposium.  Organized by ASAE – The Center for Association Leadership, this two day workshop focuses on associations along with the roles of the CEO (Chief Elected Officer) and CSO (Chief Staff Officer).  This intense training was created by Tecker Consultants, LLC — Glenn Tecker along with his colleagues, Paul Meyer and Leigh Wintz.

Many years ago, AASL began sending both the President-Elect and the Executive Director, Julie Walker, to this training together.  The design of the workshop provides for lots of talking, discussion, and sharing between the CEO and CSO.  While Julie has attended before, she told me that each new President-Elect has a different perspective and the conversations are always rich and useful.  There are still a few more months (thank goodness!) with Nancy Everhart as the President of AASL, so I have a little while to ponder and think how the training might be useful during my term!

There were all types of associations at this conference.  The group is kept small — 100-150 — so that you really get a chance to interact with the presenters and attendees.  AASL has had Paul Meyers come and work with us during out strategic planning several times since I’ve been on the board.  His insight has help guide AASL through some pretty heavy topics and come out with a plan and course of action.  So, to have three of the Tecker group leading it was pretty amazing!

In talking with other Past-Presidents, I had been told this was one of the best professional development sessions you’ll attend as President of AASL.  I certainly would have to agree.  For someone who is learning about our organization, you’ll find that much of how the board operates, deliberates, and make decisions is based off this training.  Sometimes with associations, you can come off and on the Board so fast you don’t really get an understanding of how and why it operates the way it does.  This training really is great for the President-Elect to really see there is research and thought behind how the organization operates.

I can only share my experiences, but in the years I’ve been on the Board I’ve seen a real focus on being strategic from the AASL.  We could spend a lot of time in managing the association, but we don’t.  Instead we focus most of our time on the big issues surround the field and how we as an organization can help move it forward.

My two days in Chicago this last week were amazing.  My hope is that I can use some of what I learned to help continue to move AASL and our field forward during my year as President.  I’m still kind of thinking through a “theme” for my year, but I keep coming back to this word – engaging!

  • I want us to engage the AASL membership to get active and involved!
  • I want us to engage our AASL leadership to help accomplish the work of the association and move AASL and the the field forward.
  • I want us to engage in our schools to become leaders within our buildings.  We all have those teacher leaders in our buildings who are respected for what they do and how they do it!  I think as school librarians we should be right there at the top of that list!

But, I know that a lot of what I learned, I can take back and use in my school.  A lot of what I learned in how to work with people, how to thinking strategically, and how to evaluate our effectiveness can work at my school and school library just as well as it will work for AASL.  Anytime I talk with someone who asks why I’m involved in the profession I can give them two quick reasons:

  • I feel obligated to give back to a field that has given so much to me.
  • Every committee, meeting, conversation, interaction, etc. that I have had in working in AASL, I learn something new that I can transfer back to my day to day job.

So, I can hardly wait to see what all I have to learn in the months ahead.    I’m certain that with all the opportunities to work with many of you, I will be learning a lot!

AASL visits Lafayette, LA! March 21, 2011

Posted by Carl Harvey II in AASL News, AASL Officers, Professional Development.
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Jan McGee, Elizabeth Dumas, and Carl Harvey

Last week I had the pleasure to head down to Louisiana and spend a few days at the Louisiana Library Association.  The Louisiana Association of School Librarians is the state affiliate to American Association of School Librarians (AASL).  LASL is a division of the Louisiana Library Association.

One of my favorite parts of being President-Elect of AASL is that I get a chance to represent the association at some of the state conferences.  Many years ago the AASL Board votes to start a rotation so that the AASL President (President-Elects and Past-Presidents) would visit the various state conferences on a consistent basis.  Earlier this year I visited Nevada, and the other state on my list was Louisiana!  The goal of the program was to help build and reinforce the connection between our affiliates with AASL.

The reason I enjoy it so much is the people.  Over the 2 1/2 days I was there, I got a chance to meet some amazing librarians doing some amazing things.  LASL is luckily to have quite a dedicated group at the helm of their organization.  They ran a wonderful conference.  I had the honor to present a couple of sessions – Engaging the Profession and 21st Century Skills are Elementary.  It was great to share some of the things AASL is working on.  Even more exciting is that we’ll be back in LA for ALA this summer in New Orleans.

Besides the time I was sharing in front of the group, I got time to sit back in the audience and enjoy of the session they offered.  There were some wonderful session such as Skyping with an Author and What to Read Next after  Percy Jackson with some great tech connections.   You can see some of the resources on the LASL wiki!  I also had the chance to attend their awards reception and the author luncheon with Wendelin Van Draanen who is an amazing presenter.

But, as I said before the people are what makes these conference so wonderful.  The little chats and conversations in the hallways, before and after sessions, or at the meal functions were certainly the highlight for me.  I came back for ideas I can use in my own library as well as feedback for AASL, too.  Thank you to all the great librarians in Louisiana for a great visit!  Looking forward to being back there in June!!!

Delaware Vision Tour February 20, 2011

Posted by Nancy Everhart in Check this out!.
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It helps when your principal has his own children in your school. He or she will want the best library program for them. That might be one of the reasons that Jo Ann Reynolds is at Central Middle School in Dover, Delaware under the auspices of Dr. Darren Guido. Jo Ann was brought there less than two years ago and according to Guido, “the library has undergone a great change.” Guido has given her the reins and serves as her advocate. I didn’t see it before, but I liked the after. The facility was in an old school building but the library itself was airy and bright. They must have combined two floors into one. Huge architectural windows flanked the one side and large, decorate pendant lights hung from the ceiling. I felt immediately comfortable when I walked in.

Closer examination revealed an up-to-date collection and decorative touches with snowmen and Santa Clauses on this December day. But this isn’t all about sweetness and light. This is a serious library program with goals and objectives driving what you see. An area of comfortable seating was very popular with students and a sign said they could only be there if they were reading. Reading they were. One element I particularly liked was a rubric called Utopia that was used for recreational reading. The categories include: Stays on task; respects others; reads a variety of materials; focus on story; tries to understand; and prepared. It’s used with various classes that visit the library.

The Vision Tour celebration was stately and fun at the same time – kind of like the library itself. There were testimonials from the library and school communities, and another version of “Check it Out” – this time almost in the form of Readers’ Theatre – sans music. Both of us got official Delaware coins from the Mayor’s representative!

Jo Ann is an accomplished (literally – she ‘s National Board Certified) school librarian who loves challenges and has confidence in what she does. She believes, “Every kid deserves a quality school library. I don’t believe any kid can be successful without one.” Jo Ann was supported that day by Denise DiSabatino Allen from the Delaware DOE who noted she “exemplifies the Delaware study” conducted by Dr. Ross Todd. She has won the district, building and school library media specialist of the year awards from DSLMA and in 2007 won the Gale TEAMS Award. The Vision Tour plaque is in good hands.

Vision Tour Pennsylvania: What is Joyce Valenza’s library really like? February 13, 2011

Posted by Nancy Everhart in Check this out!.
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When the Vision Tour schools were selected by the local AASL affiliates, there was a bit of a buzz to see which ones were chosen. However, in Pennsylvania no one was really surprised when it was announced that Springfield Township, Joyce Valenza’s library, would be the representative. As I explained in my speech there, Joyce has been leading us for many years. The profession looks to her to explain this wild, wonderful world of technology and how it can be advantaged for students. She is always taking risks and trying new things. And she is so willing to share! Joyce has been a mentor, both physically and virtually, to many in our field. The awards she has won have been well deserved. I couldn’t wait to get to her library!

Sometimes, when you are anticipating something for so long, you end up being disappointed at the reality of the situation. This was definitely not true for this visit. First off, I must say that the welcome signs tickle me (see photo albums) and I enjoyed seeing my name in lights in front of the school once again. This was compounded by a welcome sign on the front door of the school and then being greeted by someone in an FSU wind suit! That happened to be Joyce’s assistant, Casey Arlen, whose son is an FSU grad and champion swim team diver. She led me to the library which is a beautiful facility.

You could tell a special event was going to take place that morning, but I also saw lots of students proceeding with business as usual – researching, checking out books, and using the computers. In typical Joyce style, the celebration was both personal and digital. She had an array of speakers, including the retired Superintendent who hired her – Dr. Leary, but there were also various student-produced videos. One that has been garnering a lot of interest is called “Read it” which was performed live with students dancing in the aisles and on the bookshelves! Dr. Nyiri, the principal, said, “I hope this inspires more librarians to your standards.”

One student noted, “Student expression is everywhere” in the library and it was – from pottery to paintings, to a dress made of CDs on a dress form. Another student liked that Joyce “Encourages the use of ACTUAL BOOKS.” After the ceremony I got to speak informally to many who were there which included other librarians in the district, PTA members, and of course, students. Joyce is certainly beloved back at home as much as she is in the school library community. Casey told me “She leaves every day worrying that she didn’t do enough.” Isn’t that true of all the great ones?

See much more of the Vision Tour stop at Springfield Township High School on their Vision Tour wiki.

Indiana – Vision Tour October 28, 2010

Posted by Nancy Everhart in Check this out!.
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I feel like I just stepped out of a time machine.  Visiting South Central Schools in Indiana was akin to the Vision Tour going to the set of Happy Days or the Wonder Years.  First off, the school was spotless.  I mentioned this to the principal as she was giving me a tour.  She (and later, Nancy) realized they had never really thought about that before and took it for granted.  Principal Schnick showed me a three inch scratch on the gym door’s entrance and said, “People get upset over something like this!”  Now I’m going to really show my age. I noticed that the students were dressed like kids, but they didn’t have pants falling off, cleavage showing, tattoos (that I could see), piercings, or anything really outrageous.  I observed a third grade class give short presentations, and each one said at the end, “Thank you for listening to my report.”  And the thing is, everyone was listening.  I asked if they were told to say that, but Nancy assured me that this was normal behavior.  Right, right, I know you are all thinking this was a set up for my visit.  Probably the kids behaved better with a stranger in the room, but I don’t think you can get every kid to behave that well or dress that respectfully all at the same time.

I was in the school from 8:30 to 2:30 today.  Right off I observed a third class give their culminating presentations about a baseball player who had made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Now this is the beginning of the school year, and these third graders had done research on a database and a website about their player, answered 7 questions, organized the information on an electronic note card and paper note card, and gave a one minute presentation using a microphone! The presentation was to their classmates and about twenty parents who attended.  Nancy traditionally invites parents to any presentations.  I couldn’t believe how poised the children were.  Everyone spoke and no one made a fuss that they couldn’t do it.  I saw a similar scenario a little later, this time with an 8th grade phys ed class that had made brochures about a pretend health club and they showed them on the document camera.

Probably my favorite part of the day was having lunch in the library with the teen book club.  The group of 30 or so 13-15 year old girls (although there are two boys in the club they weren’t there today) was so excited as each one told me about the current book they were reading.  Well, it really is books because they are really into series.  Right now Hunger Games is really popular and they almost demanded that I read that and I will.  But other series were popular (this is one time when I wasn’t writing anything down because I was so enthralled) so I don’t remember them!  It was so wonderful to see kids so excited about reading and books.  They just fed off each other and pointed to books on the tables in front of their friends that they said they were next in line to get. That group certainly reinforced some research I had done a few years back where I found that girls really like the social aspects of reading – reading the same books as their friends and discussing them.

Later on when a local reporter came to interview Nancy and I he asked me what made their library program so special.  I said I thought that Nancy did a terrific job of blending both technology and books seamlessly.  She is right on board in taking a leadership role when new technologies come out and then guiding her teachers. She is not afraid to try something and have it fail.  I was interested to learn that she will not longer purchase any more print reference books – they will all be digital. “More students can use them that way, even from home. And I won’t have to worry about pages being ripped out.”  The PTO is probably going to be purchasing some e-readers and Nancy has no problem guiding the transition to digital textbooks which are probably inevitable.

I was so glad I got to visit South Central today. I have known Nancy McGriff for about ten years and one summer we co-taught a school library management class at IUPUI.  She continues to teach that class on her own and I’m so glad future school librarians in Indiana are learning from the best!

Illinois – Vision Tour October 28, 2010

Posted by Nancy Everhart in Check this out!.
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The first thing that you notice when you walk into the Robert Clow Elementary school library are the two huge displays on the wall in front of you.  One is about 20 book characters wearing Mardis Gras masks. They are numbered and it’s a contest to guess who.  The other is one about endangered animals.  Librarian Beverly Frett explains to me that all displays are initiated by students.  The endangered animals one came about because one student saw something about adopting an endangered animal.  So it started.  Next endangered animals were placed on the wall display and students were voting on which animal to adopt.  They did this by collecting change and depositing it in large jars with a picture of the animal.  On an adjoining wall, were colored posters. Those who colored their animal “most realistically” got it hung up.  Coloring an animal realistically involves looking it up in a book or online in most instances.  A simple, but effective, research problem.

I got the feeling that the students at Clow felt ownership of their school library. They came in and out naturally and checked out their own books with the bar code scanner.  They could be found on the computers, searching for books on the shelves (and using shelf markers very effectively!), or just cuddled up with a book on the stuffed furniture. One little boy followed us around and was there to take photos of the day’s events.  He was a second-grader “webographer.”

Students carried “Library Lover” cards with them. The premise behind “Library Lovers” is explained on the school library website:  “Each of our students has a label on their library card that has 17 books ready to be initialed. When students are caught using the LMC the way they should, an adult working in the LMC initials a book on their card. These students demonstrate a love of reading and using the library in a big way. They actively participate in the LM Center activities, enthusiastically read books, show respect for others and always act responsibly. We truly appreciate our Library Lovers!”

I’ve been in many school libraries in my time but I never saw an embossing machine before.  Clow had one and incorporated into their program in several ways.  First, each month one student-authored book was chosen as the best. It was made into a hardcover with a binding machine and embossed with gold letters for title and author.  They looked like dissertations!   What a proud moment for a student to have his/her book chosen to be published and added to the school library collection. The embosser was also used to create personalized award ribbons.  Fortunately, there was a parent volunteer (one among 100!) who was in charge of the embossing activities.

It was great to see all the student-centered activities in this school library.  Obviously the AASL School Library Media Program Committee was impressed as well because this school won the award in 2009.  Check out their school library website – you will get a lot of really great ideas:  http://clow.ipsd.org/lmc.html

Hawaii – Vision Tour October 28, 2010

Posted by Nancy Everhart in Check this out!.
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Vision Tour stop number two was Kailua Elementary School in Hawaii.  Kailua is about 20 miles from Honolulu on the windward coast of Oahu.  It has the most beautiful beach in the world and it’s where Hawaii native, President Barrack Obama vacationed with his family.  Darren Tanaka is the school librarian who was chosen by the Hawaii Association of School Librarians (HASL) as having the outstanding school library program.  Darren has only been at Kailua for five years.  Previously he was a science teacher.  A graduate of the University of Hawaii’s library science program, he has been educated well by Dr. Violet Harada.  Darren had a full day planned for me.  I arrived around 8:30 a.m. and had time to tour the library and talk to Darren.  We were frequently interrupted by teachers, students (who stopped by to drop off a congratulatory poster), the principal, parent and grandparent volunteers, and retired school librarians from the HASL.  Darren explained how the facility he walked into was dreary and inaccessible. The circulation desk had wobbly legs and would collapse if you leaned on it.  High metal shelves blocked the way for children to get books.  Teachers sarcastically told Darren, “Good luck” when he walked in the door.

The library I observed didn’t have any evidence of the old library.  Sure, some of the same shelving was there, but it was disassembled and made lower.  There was a computer lab in one section and children’s artwork hanging all around.  Darren told me how he enlisted the art teacher right away to help decorate the library.  Graphics and neat signage led children to books.  And the circulation desk was replaced with the help of the parent’s association.  One thing that was unexpected was the presence of musical instruments in one corner.  Guitars, a drum set, and even a piano were there.  Darren believes in music as a tool (and he’s a member of a local rock band!). He uses it as a reward for kids too.  And I think it’s the only library I have ever been in where there is a disco ball and a fog machine!  Darren is also filling a gap as the music program in his school was cut.  The day I visited was also one of the days of the school book fair and parent volunteers and retired school librarians were there to help. Darren’s wife took the day off from her job as a speech-impaired teacher to be there too.  I also got to talk to Greg, the computer coordinator, who described his relationship with Darren as “two total opposites in styles who worked very well together.”

During the lunch break, Darren invited several parents and students to join us.  I really enjoyed talking to them. My husband Harry also joined us at that point and he seemed to pick up where he left off after his retirement. He was the entertainer of the faculty room during lunch.  By that time Dr. Vi Harada also came and joined right in with former HASL presidents Grace Fujiyoshi and Linda Kim in processing new books.  After lunch I observed Darren teach 6th grade class how to interpret graphs.  Coincidentally, the Blue Angels flew right over the school at the time and shook the library. They were in town for an air show on Saturday. Next came an interview with the local news station. Reporter and news anchor, Tim Sakaraha (and a parent of a Kailua student) spent about an hour there.  That evening an excellent story ran on the news. You can find it here as well: http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/Global/story.asp?S=13209866

Later in the afternoon, I had the chance to take a break and Harry and I went on a long walk on Kailua Beach.  It’s a glorious beach with powdery sand, turquoise water, and breathtaking mountains in the background.  With that beach in the background, we had dinner at Buzz’s steakhouse with Grace and Linda. We needed the nourishment for the night ahead.

Darren had planned a celebratory program in the school’s cafeteria.  About 300 parents and children showed up.  And there were a lot of last minute well-wishers.  Darren’s principal, Lanelle Hibbs, was the recipient of the HASL award this year as well.  I don’t have all the names, but there was the Kailua state senator Norman Takamoto, state representative, and an aide from the Hawaii Department of Education.  Deb Lum, president of HASL spoke in glowing terms. Letters were sent from U.S. Senators Inouye and Akaka.  And there was even Miss Hawaii International there crown and all!  Darren was weighed down with plaques, including the one from AASL.  We concluded with everyone singing the Vision Tour Theme song, Check it Out!  By the end of the evening Darren and I were both weighed down with many Hawaiian leis! What a terrific day and night. Congratulations to Darren and Kailua Elementary!