Welcome to the third edition of ‘Adventures at LJA’. This annual
collectible series follows characters Amelia and Alex on their
journey at Le Jardin Academy. Travel with them on their adventures
through the storytelling of student writers Maiya Harding ‘20 and
Amelia Butala ‘20, and illustrator Emmalee Cornish ‘20, and enjoy an
insightful glimpse into LJA student life.
A s the wheels of the plane lifted, Bren stared out the window
and took one last look at the place he called home for the
past year. He opened his scrapbook, a gift from his host
family, and remembered all the good times he had with Alex
and Amelia at Le Jardin Academy.
The photo Amelia snapped of him trying spam musubi for the first
time made him laugh. And it made him think about his first morning
in Hawai‘i. Bren had been shaking with nerves, tense to meet his new
family and the students of LJA. He wondered if they would be different
from his friends in Germany.
He saw a small girl holding up a sign with his name in big bubble
letters from afar. A boy around his age ran up to him, his face wide
with a smile. “Hi, it’s me ... Alex! And that’s my sister Amelia,” he
exclaimed. “You’ll be staying with us!” On the ride to his new home,
Alex bombarded Bren with questions: “What’s your favorite sport?”
“What’s the food like in Germany?” “Do you take algebra, too?”
Amelia interrupted Alex’s questions to offer Bren a spam musubi,
which he graciously accepted and enjoyed. Bren sat back in his seat,
smiling. In his first few minutes, he already felt a sense of belonging.
B ren’s first day at LJA flew by, friendly faces greeting him at
every corner. He was fascinated by the teachers’ passion for
education and the students’ desire to learn. By the end of the
day, his brain was packed with everything from trigonometric
unit circles to philosophical Gettier cases. He followed Alex to the
soccer field and gazed in awe at the high majestic peaks and stunning
green space surrounding them.
Bren joined the excitement and cheered on LJA’s boys’ varsity soccer
team during the game. Normally Amelia would be cheering excitedly
too, but she was busy leading a student council meeting. As the
president of the Lower School student body, it was her responsibility to
lead the Student Council members in planning Family Fun Night.
“I declare extra recess for a day!” Amelia announced from Mr.
Condon’s rolling chair. Amelia’s family had won her the position of
Head of School for a day at LJA’s annual Gala. She wanted to share
the experience with Alex and Bren so she invited them for lunch.
Bren was amazed by the concept of letting a student run the show.
The friendly administrative team even brought in spam musubis
as part of Amelia’s decree. By the end of his third musubi, Bren had
learned about the weekly newsletters shared with parents as well as
the student internship opportunities.
A fter their filling lunch, Bren and Alex trekked up to the
Bloodmobile where they added to LJA’s record-setting
number of students donating blood. To maintain his blood
sugar, Bren was offered a cup of Passion Orange Guava juice,
or POG. Ms. Handy popped in for her donation; they chatted about
Bren’s love of science and technology. Ms. Handy suggested that Bren
join the robotics team. Bren was excited about this opportunity and
couldn’t wait for his first meeting.
A couple of months later, it was time for the Robotics State
Championship. Bren was thrilled to experience the vibrancy
of downtown Honolulu; he brought Alex along for the
journey. Bren learned more about his classmates and felt
even more confident that Team Unagi would take home a trophy. As
Alex worked with Julia and Austin on team spirit and engineering
their robot, Bren applied First Robotics’ core values of gracious
professionalism and cooperation. Such teamwork and communication
resulted in Team Unagi earning the most points in the “moon lander”
match, thus winning the state championship. Due to the victory,
nearly the entire LJA robotics program was funded by student-written
grants from organizations including NASA. In the spring, Bren
competed against robotics teams from Taipei, Japan, China, and the
United States at the Stan Sheriff Center.
O ne of Bren’s most memorable experiences at LJA came after
his Spanish class had finished their South American history
presentations. Halfway through class, students took a break
outside. From afar, they could hear the glorious melody
of voices and soon discovered that it was the Pre-Kindergarten and
Junior Kindergarten students, LJA’s youngest keiki, practicing for
their Winter Concert.
B ren flipped to the next page of the scrapbook, finding a
photo of Alex’s scuba Impact-Term Course. He was initially
confused by the concept of “I-Term” but discovered it was
a new addition to the LJA curriculum where students are
given the opportunity to develop and explore their own learning
experiences to impact themselves and the world around them. Bren’s
passion was working with kids; he couldn’t wait until his first day as a
Teacher’s Assistant in the Lower School. Throughout the week, Bren
loved every minute of the students’ smiles and unfiltered, imaginative
thoughts. He taught them about his culture and in turn, they taught
him to do a cartwheel. Many laughs, stories, and “dirt cakes” were
exchanged. He couldn’t wait to share his learning with Amelia who
also loved her school experiences.
Glancing to the next page of the scrapbook, Bren radiated with
happiness. It was a photo of the portrait he painted for an orphan in
Peru. In the picture, the little girl was smiling ear to ear as she held
the portrait. The Memory Project was significant to Bren because he
always loved helping the community, even a community thousands
of miles away. Bren was pleased that service opportunities were built
into LJA’s educational programs so that he could volunteer during
school hours in addition to his free time.
O ne night while working on his Memory Project, Bren
overheard Amelia talking about the Middle School Poetry
Slam. Fascinated by student-written poetry, Bren decided
to take a break from his artwork and join Amelia who was
already scouting the competition for next year. One of his favorite
performances was “Damaged” written by a Grade 8 student, Lulu, who
won the competition. He was entertained not only by the originality of
the poems but also with the performers’ expression of thought.
The next page of the album was covered with an array of photos from
the Lower School dance. Alex and Bren had escorted Amelia in her
sparkly new dress and walked her down the decorated sidewalk to
meet her friends. His favorite photo included himself, Alex, and Amelia
standing at the entry arch. Amelia’s nervous smile indicated this was
her first dance. However, as Bren scanned the page he noticed another
image of a sweat-covered Amelia dancing without a care in the world.
B ren remembered being ecstatic to see Amelia’s culminating
project of the PYP Program at the Grade 5 Exhibition.
She and her team chose to inquire into gender equality
addressing perspective, biology, and international
differences. He clearly remembered this project, mainly because
Amelia had borrowed his collared shirt and tie for the presentation.
Bren tried on Amelia’s clothes in support of her project and came to
her presentation wearing one of her dresses. He was astonished by how
open-minded many of the other children were and actually received
compliments on his outfit. Bren particularly enjoyed a project on
overfishing and hoped to take some of the solutions home to Germany.
O n the first of May, Bren learned about how the international
tradition known as May Day is celebrated in Hawaii. As a
member of the Polynesian Club, he learned a hula to perform
for the Grade 8 court. He especially enjoyed the beginning
of the ceremony when the court walked in wearing all the colors of
the rainbow, each representing one of the Hawaiian islands. Reading
Amelia’s Grade 5 assignments had helped him learn the Hawaiian
alphabet. He loved watching the Grade 7 students perform a mele on the
importance of kuleana, since the next year they would hold the court. At
the end of the celebration, everyone joined together on the stage to sing
“May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii.” Bren quickly picked up the tune and
sang along. As he glanced out the airplane window, Bren realized he was
humming the same tune.
B ren could feel his eyes watering as he neared the end of the
scrapbook. The pictures were so vivid that the images appeared
to leap from the page. He found himself reliving the seniors’ last
day of school. LJA’s annual all-school assembly celebrated the
culmination of their High School journey. The most touching moment
was when the kindergarteners took the hands of the seniors and
escorted them into the gymnasium filled with loved ones, students,
and faculty. Bren and Alex were guided by a kindergartener who
was clearly enjoying her special role. The boys caught one another’s
eye, silently acknowledging the significance of their High School
adventure. Upon reaching their seats, the college counselor, Mr.
Liedtke, gave a speech. Bren could not keep the tears from falling.
All the IAs, EAs, EEs, CAS, IB, DP, TOK, RLS, KQ ... everything was
complete and he had finished this incredible final year of High School.
A s Bren said his goodbyes to his friends, he wrote down the
emails of their colleges and decided then and there that he
would write to them from Germany.
The airplane was now well on its way across the ocean. Bren sat back,
knowing his time at LJA was one he would remember throughout his
lifetime. He was going to miss his second home and ohana. But he had
also learned that in Hawaii, it is never goodbye, but a hui hou.
A hui hou Until we meet again
Mele Music, song
Kuleana Responsibility. Also right, privilege
IA Internal Assessment, assignments graded
by the teachers, externally moderated by the IB
EA External Assessment, assignments graded
by the IB
EE Extended Essay, a core component of the Diploma
Programme written in the senior year
CAS Creativity Activity Service, a core component of
the Diploma Programme, requirements for
IB International Baccalaureate
DP Diploma Programme, Grades 11-12
TOK Theory of Knowledge, an epistemology class
taken by Grades 11-12 to find connections
RLS Real-life Situation, related to the final
KQ Knowledge Question, a question about how
you know, not what you know
PYP Primary Years Programme PK-5th
MYP Middle Years Programme 6-10
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
E mmalee Cornish ‘20 has been a student at Le Jardin
Academy since Pre-Kindergarten. She is passionate
about Marine Biology and Visual Arts. The aspect
of art that she enjoys most is the creative expression
and freedom, specifically the ability to recreate an image in
your own style. Her favorite childhood book is The Sign of the
Seahorse by Graeme Base.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
M aiya Harding ‘20 came to Le Jardin Academy in
Grade 5 and is now a senior. She is Editor-in-Chief
of the school yearbook, President of Gay-Straight
Alliance, President of Spanish Honor Society,
Secretary of the National Honor Society, and a member of
the LJA swim team. Her favorite childhood book is The
A melia Butala ‘20 has been a student at Le Jardin
Academy since Pre-Kindergarten. She is a member
of the LJA tennis team, Spanish Honor Society,
Amnesty International, LJA Ambassadors, National
Honor Society, and a representative for Student Government.
Her favorite childhood book series is Magic Tree House.
Globally oriented with a strong sense of community,
Le Jardin Academy equips students to achieve individual excellence,
develop sound character, and positively impact the world.
ABOUT LE JARDIN ACADEMY
A t Le Jardin Academy, we believe that extraordinary
teachers and learning experiences empower students’
unique talents, creating not only individual success, but
also a rewarding childhood. With nearly 800 students
from Preschool to Grade 12, Le Jardin Academy offers innovative
education, grounded in academic excellence. Our goal is to develop
knowledgeable, responsible, and caring young people of character
who help to create a more peaceful and sustainable world through
understanding, stewardship, and respect. Students are supported in
learning to lead balanced, healthy lives, to appreciate the arts, and to
value the diverse perspectives of other people and cultures.
917 Kalaniana‘ole Highway
Kailua, HI 96734