Language Arts

2017-'18 School Year:

And...Welcome Back Spoken Word Poet Myrlin Hepworth!  Oct. 23-27, 2017

After this week-long Spoken Word workshop with Hip Hop Artist-Educator Myrlin, WMS students will share out their original poems - with fellow students and some will share schoolwide and with families and friends:  

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2016-'17 School Year:

Welcome Back Spoken Word Poet Myrlin Hepworth! 

Waimea Students To Share Their ʻVoicesʻ At Spoken Word Performance At Kahilu Theatre at 6 p.m., Tues., Oct. 25, 2016 - All Invited! 

About 25 Waimea students have something to say about their world and they are bravely willing to share it with family, friends, teachers and the community from the big stage at Kahilu Theatre at 6 p.m., Tues., Oct. 25.  These are students from all parts of Waimea who attend Waimea Middle School and Hawai’i Preparatory Academy – both middle and high school.  These young adults, along with all of the students in their grade levels, will have spent the previous few days working with Spoken Word Poet Myrlin Hepworth, a rising star in mainland slam poetry circles. 

Students quickly connect with Hepworth, who is twenty-something, and who seems like an older brother with two lives – one as a poet-performer and hip hop artist, the other as a young man of Hispanic ancestry with his own painful stories of growing up – stories that for many students are surprisingly familiar about bullying, self-doubt, loss, loneliness, deep sadness.  Hepworth, after learning about Spoken Word poetry, discovered that it not only helped him become stronger and more self-confident, but that he could use it to help other young adults learn to use and love words and performance to share their stories and become stronger too.  Armed now with a Bachelor’s degree and teaching experience, Hepworth travels the country helping young adults put in practice his three rules:  (1) Be Brave!  (2) Be Respectful!  (3) Your Voice Matters! 

Hepworth is something of a pied piper for young adults.  He is able to reach students even with just a few hours of class time 

and even when English isn’t their first language.  

His visit to Waimea Middle School (WMS) this past Spring was so powerfully embraced by students that he was invited back this week by teachers and administrators to spend the week with every one of Waimea Middle School’s 250 students to create Spoken Word poems, and, in the process, inspire greater interest in reading, writing and self-expression. 

WMS reached out to several Waimea schools offering to share Myrlin’s time, and Hawai’i Preparatory Academy jumped in, so

both HPA middle and high school students are spending class time with Myrlin and several will be invited to share their

Spoken Word poems along with several WMS students at a family-community presentation Oct. 25 at Kahilu Theatre.  

The entire community is invited to this family-friendly presentation; there is no charge.  Doors to Kahilu Theatre will open at 5:45 p.m. and seating is first come. 

Helping underwrite this learning experience are Waimea Middle School, Hawai’i Community Foundation, 

Hawai’i Preparatory Academy and Kahilu Theatre Foundation.  

2015-'16 School Year:

A Very Warm Mahalo To Spoken Word Poet-Educator Myrlin Hepworth!

Our students loved and learned from their hours in your classes, Myrlin, and then were brilliant and brave on stage at Kahilu Theatre!   

Here's a short video clip about Myrlin and our students created by Ty Stuyvescant:

WMS students present a mahalo chant on the grand stage at Kahilu Theatre to Myrlin Hepworth to thank him for his inspiration and help with learning to bravely tell their stories through Spoken Word poetry!


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2014-'15 School Year:

Implementing Common Core State Standards by Integrating Literacy and Reading Throughout The Curriculum:

Common Core State Standards - Building Vocabulary

2013-'14 School Year: 

Word Of The Week!  (WOW!):  Focusing on vocabulary was one of three schoolwide "common agreements" established by WMS teacher teams.  


Definition:                       Perceive or point out a difference.

Parts of Speech:             Verb

Root Word:                     Origin Latin distinguere meaning “to separate between”  

Sentence:                       "Bees are unable to distinguish between red, black, and various grays."

Prior weeks' WOW! vocabulary: 


Definition:                  To cause irritation or annoyance to

Parts of Speech:         Verb

Root Word:                 Origin Latin asper meaning “rough”

Sentence:                   The traveler was exasperated by the traffic due to road construction.


Definition:                  The formal or systematic examination of something or someone

Part of Speech:          Noun

Root Word:                 Investigationem - Latin for “a searching into”; stem vestigium “footprint, track”

Sentence:                   The investigation into our May Day theme by students led to a deeper appreciation of the performance.


Definition:                  A forecast

Parts of Speech:        Noun

Root Word:                Praedicere - Latin for “make known beforehand”

Sentence:                  In Social Studies a prediction was made that the Greeks would destroy the Persian empire.


Definition:                  The state of being strikingly different from something else

Parts of speech:         Noun

Root word:                “Contrastare” Latin for “contra” against and “stare” stand

Sentence:                   The day began cold and blustery in contrast to almost two weeks of uninterrupted sunshine.


Definition:                  The act or instance of comparing.

Part of Speech:         Noun

Root Word:                “Comparare”  Latin for “to patch or pair”

Sentence:                   The Social Studies teachers drew a comparison between Gandhi and Socrates.



Definition:                 A comprehensive and usually brief statement of previously stated facts.

Part of speech:       Noun

Synonym:                 Synopsis

Root word:               From Latin summārium of or pertaining to the sum of a substance

Sentence:                 The lengthy report was concluded with a summary.


Definition:                 Make something active or operative

Part of Speech:       Verb

Synonym:                 Energize or switch on

Root Word:              From Latin activus, from actus (act (n.)), meaning “energetic,lively”.  Active voice is a

                                    grammatical use of active from 15c.

Sentence:                 Fumes from cooking are sometimes enough to activate the smoke alarm.


Definition:                  Providing encouragement or emotional support

Part of speech:          Adjective

Root Word:                “Support” which means to put up with. Latin origin “sub-“ prefix meaning below and“portare” which means “carry”

            Sentence:                   The students and staff at school are supportive of each other.


Definition:                    Classifying without expressing feelings or judging

Part of Speech:          Adjective

Synonym:                    Illustrative

Root Word:                  From Latin descriptivus, origin descript- “written down”,  from the verbdescribere,  which means to describe

Sentence:                     In your journal, please use more descriptive, specific words as opposed to general ones.


Definition:                    A formal statement

Part of Speech:          Noun

Synonym:                   Announcement

Root Word:                 Latin “declaratio” to “make quite clear”

Sentence:                    Last Sunday, during an emotional closing ceremony, a declaration was issued that the youth of the world will assemble again in 4 years for the winter Olympics.



Definition:        Conclude information from evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements.  (Explicit (WOW! for 1/27/14) meaning very clear and complete)

Part of speech: Verb  

Root Word:       Latin from in” intro and “ferre” from bring

Sentence:         Using the results from our first round of HSA, we can infer that many students are focused on their academic reading goal.


Definition:            Having component parts pleasingly or appropriately combined.

Part of Speech:   Adjective.

Root Word:          “Harmonia”  Latin for “joining, concord.”

Sentence:             The vegetation on our campus is harmonious blend of native and non-native species.


Definition:           A strong desire to do or achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.

Part of Speech:  Noun

Root Word:         “Going around canvassing for votes” from Latin “ambire”

Sentence:            Doing well on the next round of HSA requires ambition.

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Given our emphasis on vocabulary as a common agreement this year, this research project from the University of Minnesota, published in the journal The Reading Teacher, stuck out.  The article was titled "Deciding Which Vocabulary to Teach and How to Teach Them."  Kim Marshall summarized it nicely in last week's Marshall Memo:

Based on a three-year research project, the authors created the SWIT process – Selecting Words for Instruction from Texts. It involves choosing and teaching four types of unfamiliar words:

-    Essential words – These are important for understanding the text.

-    Valuable words – These have broad, enduring utility for students’ reading and writing – for example, for sixth graders, discord and inevitable.

-    Accessible words – These are more common, higher frequency words that are not likely to be understood by students with limited vocabulary knowledge – for example, consider and recent.

-    Imported words – These aren’t in the actual text but will enhance a reader’s understanding, appreciation, or learning – for example prejudice, gullible, democracy, environmentalism.

Reference: “Words, Words Everywhere, But Which Ones Do We Teach?” by Michael Graves, James Baumann, Camille Blachowicz, Patrick Manyak, Ann Bates, Char Cieply, Jeni Davis, and Heather Von Gunten in The Reading Teacher, February 2014 (Vol. 67, #5, p. 333-346), 


To learn more about these words, go to our WOW! Website:

WMS '6-Word Memoir' Workshop Attracts National Attention: 

Wow!  A fascinating Language Arts lesson involving writing 6-word memoirs, shared with WMS 8th Grade Language Arts students recenly, has now been featured on a national website to share the magic and effectiveness of SixWordMemoirs!  Mahalo to WMS' guest instructor Darien Gee and to!

WMS 8th Grade '6-Word Memoir' Workshop - Fall 2013

WMS 8th Grader Is National Weekly Top Scorer for TeenBiz3000!  

WMS 8th Grader Roland Afaga (shown here with his Language Arts teacher Mrs. Leesa Robertson), holds a gift box that was sent to surprise him recently by TeenBiz3000 -- the online reading program used here at WMS.  Roland received the reward as TeenBiz3000's National Weekly Top Scorer, having earned more points in one week than any other student in the entire country using this program.   The surprise was a very cool digital dictionary!  

WMS 8th Graders Begin Oral History Project - Fall 2013

May 2013

Students-Families-Community Invited To Celebrate School Year ‘Journey of Learning’ Wednesday Evening, May 22, 2013 at Kahilu Town Hall

Waimea Middle School (WMS) proudly extends an open invitation to the entire school-community to celebrate student accomplishments at a free “Journey of Learning” evening gathering Wed., May 22 at Kahilu Town Hall. The program will begin at 6 p.m., but doors will open at 5:15 p.m. for cocoa, coffee, sandwiches and cookies. The community is encouraged to arrive early to enjoy refreshments and walk across to Kahilu Theatre for a quick viewing of a very special exhibit which features art by students and family members of WMS and most other Waimea schools. 

 The “Journey of Learning” program will begin in Kahilu Town Hall at 6 p.m. with select students from 6th-8th grade presenting original poems.  Kealoha, a keiki o ka ‘aina, will emcee this portion of the program.  Kealoha is known for his captivating poetry performances and has performed at the White House and at Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s Inauguration where he earned the title of “Hawaii’s Poet Laureate.”  

Kealoha hasn’t always been a poet.  In fact, it was only after graduating from MIT with honors in nuclear physics that he discovered his real passion was performance poetry, and since then, he spends most of his time helping students create and share their own stories, using poetry as a  vehicle of self expression.  Kealoha was invited to WMS for a third year by Language Arts teacher and department head Leesa Robertson. Robertson, thanks to a Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts grant – supplemented by school funds – to integrate Kealoha’s innovative approach into WMS curriculum.  Kealoha has visited WMS 6th, 7th and 8th grade Language Arts classes several times this year for poetry workshops, and his contagious energy and passion have inspired and supported WMS students as they created their own poems.

After WMS students share their stories through performance poetry, Waimea’s own PWO Navigator, Chadd Paishon, will talk story about the school’s year-long voyaging theme.  Paishon, who is Captain of Na Kalai Wa’a’s Makali’i voyaging canoe, will tie student “Journey of Learning” lessons and experiences this school year to ongoing planning for the worldwide voyage of the Hokule’a.  WMS teachers have integrated a voyaging theme across the curriculum to include many cultural and hands-on-learning experiences for students.  Paishon and fellow members of Na Kalai Wa’a have worked with students at most Waimea schools as well as community members throughout the year to involve all of Waimea in the coming historic voyage.

The entire community is invited to this free year-end showcase of student learning.  Please join WMS to celebrate the continual involvement of “the village” of Waimea in student academic progress and in nurturing a deeper understanding of this community’s cultural traditions and voyaging heritage. 

For information, call Pua Case (938-5550), or Patti Cook (937-2833). 

An RSVP is welcome but not essential.  Call or email Patti Cook (937-2833 -  Mahalo!


January 2013

   Our Ana Headed To State Spelling Bee Finals

Saturday, March 23 - PBS - Hawai'i Public Television!


Congratulations to WMS 8th Grader Anatevka AhLoy for spelling her way to becoming First Runner-Up in the islandwide Scripps Spelling Bee District Finals this past Saturday at HPA! 

Taking top honors as the Islandwide Champion was Kealia Haitsuka from HPA. 

“The District Finals were very exciting and very competitive with students from 14 public, public charter and private schools from around the island, including last year’s state champion, Taggart Nakamoto,” said WMS Language Arts Teacher Mrs. Leesa Robertson. 

Ana spelled her way to the 28th Round, spelling “Agnostic” correct, but missing “Etymology” in the 29th Round.  Both Kealia and Ana will fly to Honolulu for the Statewide Finals to be aired “live” on PBS-Hawai’i on Sat., March 23. 

Also making us proud in Saturday’s District Finals was 7th Grader Korie Key!

December 2012

Congratulations to our WMS Schoolwide Scripps Spelling Bee 2012 Winners! 

  • Champion - Anatevka AhLoy (8th Grade)
  • 1st Runner Up - Korie Key (7th Grade)
District Finals for all Hawai'i Island schools will be from 9-11 a.m., Sat., Jan. 19, 2013 at HPA Gates Performing Arts Center.

State Finals will be broadcast live by PBS Hawai'i on Saturday evening, March 23, 2013. 

Congratulations to all of our school finalists for having the courage and commitment to studying hard to compete...and to our Language Arts teacher team for organizing this challenging event!

WMS schoolwide Spelling Bee finalists included: 

8th Grade:  Anatevka AhLoy (Champion), Romilly Benedict, Rusty Crabbe, Bodie Glasscock, Iokepa Keliiholokai-Agustin, Kaylene Lincoln and Cherrish Lumalan.

7th Grade:  Roland Afaga, Jr. (the current #2 middle school speller in the state), Jacob Brown, Ryan Hooley, Austin Kahoopi’i, Korie Key (1st Runner Up), Kiai Lindsey, Lehua Muranaka Walton, Adrianna Rodriguez, Celeste Souza and Taran Takahashi.

6th Grade:  Sheldon Aribal, Serenidy Delos Santos, Daneau Domingo, Maya Ellsworth, Kuulei Hashimoto-Ruis, Lilly Lindsey, Tori Lindsey, Keahi Noa-Lange, Lehua Peters-Lindborg and Annie Pham.

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September 2012

Special Guest Keoki Kahumoku Shares The Significance

Of Great Storytelling To Music In Language Arts Classes   

8th Grade Language Arts students experienced the magic and significance of great storytelling as shared by one of our island’s finest “next generation” Hawaiian musicians-songwriters-storytellers in classes recently.  Keoki read from his father’s book...then brought it “alive” with music!

It all begins with a great story.  

WMS Students Study Storytelling By Reading Memoirs Of A

Superb Hawaiian Storyteller, Then Writing Their Own…

WMS 8th Grade students have read the book, “A Hawaiian Life” by George Kahumoku, Jr., which is an anthology of memoirs from his life.  Inspired by George's stories, students are now writing their own memoirs.  Keoki, his son, is a character in a number of the stories and came to campus this week to read from his father’s book, then share the music that also shares many of these stories. 

As most know, both Keoki and his dad are superb musicians and Grammy award winners! 

Book Review on “A Hawaiian Life”...

George Kahumoku, Jr., the Hawaiian slack key guitar player, is a superb story teller. He has always wanted to write some of these stories down, and finally has.

If you've had the opportunity to see George in concert, you may have heard some of them, or parts of them. They are highly personal, and distinctly Hawaiian.

George was raised mostly by grandparents, and in some respects he is like a Hawaiian of a generation or two earlier.  But he is also a thoroughly modern fellow who's traveled the world, played music for the Queen of England, and gotten a mainland college degree.  He has even been known to carry around a notebook computer from time to time.  These are tales of poverty and tough times that illustrate the difficulties of growing up Hawaiian in a modern western setting.  But more than anything, these stories will make you laugh.  This is principally because of George's sense of humor and his ability to overcome life's obstacles with an upbeat attitude and good grace and above all, a very traditional spirit of Aloha

June 2012

WMS Student’s ‘Mental Karate Jigna Essay’ Wins Only ’Legendary Hero’ Award Presented In United States This Year, Plus $200!  

 “Jigna” is a word in the Ethiopian language of Tigrynia that refers to a legendary hero who can never be defeated.  Each year, Mental Karate selects up to five students to receive its Jigna Award.  To win, students who have achieved the status of Black Belts must write an essay outlining all the actions they took from White Belt to Black Belt and explain how those actions changed their life and the lives of others. 

Jignas are inspirational examples for everyone who ventures on the journey of earning their belts.
WMS’ 7
th grade student Cody Cook’s essay was chosen as a winner for 2012 and he is the only Jigna selected in the entire United States this year! 

Cody is shown here with teacher Mrs. Noetzel when he received his award certificateand $200 in cash.  He will be featured on the Mental Karate website, too.   (  Congratulations, Cody!


Yes, that’s Mental Karate founder Mawi Asgedom (front center) surrounded by 7th and 8th Grade Mental Karate Blue Belt recipients who are shown celebrating their personal accomplishments. 

WMS' VIP Guest Mawi Asgedom!

Mawi Asgedom
is not exactly a household name for many, but to WMS students, he’s not only well known but his visit to campus Fri., April 13, was long anticipated. 

Mawi is best know as the bestselling author, “Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy’s Remarkable Journey From A Refugee Camp to Harvard.”  The book tells his story as a child who fled civil in Ethiopia, survived a Sudanese refugee camp for three years, and who,  after resettling in the U.S., overcame poverty, language barriers and personal tragedy to graduate from Harvard where he gave the commencement   address to an audience of 30,000!

But WMS students also know Mawi as the founder of Mental Karate, a program many are participating in which empowers them to set and achieve personal goals and contribute to making the community and the world a better place.

WMS Honors English students and many others helped fundraise to bring Mawi to share his story and celebrate earning Mental Karate belts. 

It was a great honor to welcome Mawi to campus and we extend a special thanks to all of the students, faculty and staff, and to our school and community for helping make this visit possible.  Special thanks also to teacher Liz Noetzel – and to Hawai’i Preparatory Academy – for also helping make Mawi’s inspirational talk possible.

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WMS 6th Grader Will Next Compete in Statewide Middle School Finals After Winning Hawai’i Island Bee!

Roland Afaga, Jr. ‘Best Speller’ On Island! 

December, 2011:  By spelling 25 words correctly – including the Champion Word - ALLEGORY – at the recent 2012 Hawai’i Island District Finals Spelling Bee, WMS 6th grade student Roland  Afaga, Jr. was officially declared the island’s Champion Middle School Speller for 2012!  As District Champion, Roland will now compete in the March State Finals in Honolulu. 

The title means Roland successfully out-spelled 27 other middle school students from 14 schools around Hawai’i Island including Hawai’i Preparatory Academy, Kamehameha Schools, St. Joseph’s and Hualalai Academy.  Among the hardest words Roland successfully spelled were SURREALIST, THRESHOLD, ALFALFA, DIATRIBE, ROUGHHEWN and COLLOQUIAL.

A second WMS student – Jack Lunchick Seymore – also participated in the District Finals and did very well, only to be stumped by the word, POWWOW…but that was after correctly spelling FRIVOLOUS, CARNAGE and SCYTHE. 

“We are so proud of both Roland and Jack; it’s not easy getting on stage in front of a room full of people and remaining calm and   focused.  Just being on stage would be daunting for many adults,” said WMS CEEO/Principal John Colson.

“We are also grateful to our WMS Language Arts Team – and  Roland’s Language Arts Teacher Mrs. Barbara Haight – for the coaching support they provided.  Staging a Spelling Bee is a significant team effort.  Mahalo to the LA team for your dedication and collaboration!”

“We also give a High Five to all of the WMS students who participated in our schoolwide Spelling Bee just before Winter Break and we thank all students in the audience who supported each and every contestant throughout the school-wide finals.”

We also thank our Judges, Pronouncer and Kahilu Theatre staff for allowing us to hold the Bee there.