Daily Star photo/CRAIG HAUPERT Nancy Strauss, whose family has roots in Hawaii, sings a traditional Hawaiian song at the Ballard Elementary luau Friday.

Archived Story

Island fever hits Ballard

Published 6:06pm Friday, March 30, 2012

When Ballard Elementary Principal David Eichenberg woke up Friday morning, he didn’t know in a few hours he’d be wearing a coconut bra and a grass skirt.

He also didn’t know he’d be dancing to the “Hukilau” — a Hawaii fishing song — in front of hundreds of excited students.

That was part of the fun for students who gathered in the Ballard Elementary School gymnasium for a celebratory luau assembly.

It was a reward for all the reading students did during March’s National Reading Month.

Students across all grade levels teamed up to see who could read the most. After reading a book, students would take a test and get points based on the results of the test. The orange team finished first with 1,355 points and earned the right to choose a person to wear a Hawaiian skirt and dance at the assembly. They chose Eichenberg.

The entire school had 4,425.8 points.

“That’s a really good number,” Ballard librarian Arlene Richardson said.

Mother and daughter Nancy Strauss and Mariette Strauss provided entertainment for the assembly. They are both of Hawaiian descent. Nancy’s mother was born in Hawaii and her family goes back nine generations on the island. Mariette graduated from Niles High School in 2006.

The Strauss’ taught students Hawaiian words like “aloha” (“hello”) and “mahalo” (“goodbye”), and played traditional Hawaiian songs. They also did a couple Hawaiian dances, including the “Hukilau” with Eichenberg.

Richardson said this is the first year teams were formed with students from different grade levels.

She believes it helped encourage more reading.

“We had the older kids helping the younger ones, which was nice,” she said. “The kindergarteners felt like they were part of the whole community.”

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