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Pennies for Pearl Harbor

Description: Kapolei Elementary School 5th graders decided to make a difference in their community by becoming the first Hawaiian school to participate in the "Pennies for Pearl Harbor" fundraising drive and education program, raising more than $1,000 in coins for the construction of Pearl Harbor Memorial Museum and Visitor Center. "Pennies for Pearl Harbor" is a program of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Fund/Pacific Historic Parks (formerly known as the USS Arizona Memorial Museum Association).

The school's 5th grade class of 258 students collected more than funds by asking family, friends and visitors for loose change. On Thursday, March 18, 2004, they presented leis and the jars of coins collected to Pearl Harbor Survivor Al Rodrigues at a ceremony in the school cafeteria.

"The museum is badly in need of replacement and expansion," said Pete Viele, Vice-President of development for the Arizona Memorial Museum Association. "These kids are helping to raise the millions needed to rebuild the museum. They have proven that every penny does count."

Under the supervision of their 5th grade teacher, Jeff Morikawa, and Principal, Mike Miyamura, students also learned first-hand about the December 7,1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor and its impact on Hawaii's history through classroom assignments and trips to the park where the Education Director and Park Superintendent gave them a tour and oral history of the memorial. The students took what they learned and created a video about Pearl Harbor which they wrote and produced. Students in the video urge the audience to always "remember, understand and honor" those who were lost at Pearl Harbor.

Six of the students from Kapolei's 4th and 5th grade classes worked over several months to create an award winning interactive, multimedia website. The website was created primarily for children and others interested in learning about the attack on Pearl Harbor. It presents the events leading up to the attack, the losses, and the lessons learned from the tragedy. It also includes interviews with survivors, a virtual reality game, surveys, and examples of what we can do to create a more peaceful world. The website was awarded the Thinkquest Silver Award by the Oracle Education Foundation in 2001.

The opportunity to participate in the "Pennies for Pearl Harbor" program is available to any school and grade. Although the program is designed to work with school curriculum, PHP found that the program is also a great community or special service project. While other schools have participated in the program, Kapolei Elementary was the first school to complete the entire program, including the education and the visitor component. The students at Kapolei Elementary got involved with "Pennies for Pearl Harbor" as part of their participation in the school-wide "Make a Difference Day."

Every class that participates for one month in the "Pennies for Peal Harbor" fundraising campaign will be recognized at the new Pearl Harbor Memorial and Visitor Center honor roll kiosk as well as a listing on the web site honor roll of donors. Students can go online and chart the progress of the campaign and see which other schools are participating. The funds stay with the Pearl Harbor Memorial Fund which is strictly for the new museum and visitor center.

Geographic area covered: The memorial consists of eleven acres, and includes the 184-foot-long Memorial structure. The structure spans the mid-portion of the sunken battleship and consists of three main sections: the entry and assembly rooms; a central area designed for ceremonies and general observation; and the shrine room, where the names of those killed on the Arizona are engraved on the marble wall. The Visitor Center includes a double theater, bookstore, museum and shoreline exhibits for visitors waiting to visit the Memorial structure.

List of partners and relationships: Kapolei Elementary School, Pacific Historic Parks and the National Park Service.

Accomplishments to date:

  1. Over 500 students participated in the project. These students become part of an historical event on Oahu while learning the value of community service and philanthropy as well as preserving Hawaii's very own history.
  2. $1,595 raised through the "Pennies for Pearl Harbor" campaign.
  3. Two new schools, Nanailapono Elementary School, Oahu, Hawaii and Anoka High School Choir in Anoka, MN, are now participating in the program.

Key success factors: The great leadership provided by the principal and teachers to expose students at an early age to community service and the history of their island. They were also responsible for exposing families on the island to the history of World War II and the USS Arizona Memorial, many of whom had never before visited the site.

Frustrations: As with starting anything new, there were frustrations trying to get the word out about the program and getting it off the ground. It was difficult battling the belief by some that memorials, which are generally without a museum or visitor center, can be maintained without donations.

Most important lessons learned to date: The response to the program far exceeded staff expectations. Schools, teachers, students, Oahu residents as well as mainland students are very excited and supportive of the project.

What would you do differently next time: It is too soon to tell. The campaign is in its infancy stage and continues to grow.

Suggested resource materials(related to the case study): For more information about the "Pennies for Pearl Harbor" program visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial Fund's website at To view the Kapolei Elementary 5th grade class website visit

For more information:

Name: Jayne Perkins Viele
Affiliation: Coordinator, Pearl Harbor Memorial Fund, Pacific Historic Parks
Phone/Fax: 808-487-3327

Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)

Fundraising _X_; Capital Improvements__; Facility Management __; Trails __; Design __; Program Delivery __; Visitor Services _X_; Tenant Organizations __; Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration __; Cultural Resources _X_; Education/Interpretation _X_; Arts __; Information Services __; Transportation __; Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning __; Tourism __; Community Relations _X_;

Other ____________________________

Prepared by: Jayne Perkins Viele Date posted: 7/2/04
Phone: 808-487-3327

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