According to a recent United Nations report, climate scientists expect the Earth’s global temperature to rise 3-5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. If classrooms continue to be devoid of proper air conditioning, excessive heat will harm students’ ability to focus, threatening productivity and learning. In 2016, Hawaii’s Department of Education (DOE) began working towards ensuring that classrooms stay cool in the sweltering heat. Titled the “Cool Classrooms Initiative,” Hawaii’s DOE has earmarked 100million dollars to either install new air conditioners or improve extant cooling infrastructure. However, due to concerns with resource allocations, the program prioritizes schools judged to be in dire need of heat abatement.
Some schools, including Kaiser High School, are not considered to be in dire need of cooling, causing parents to wonder if their children are bene ting from the state’s program. Fortunately, according to President Bob Spear of Kaiser High School’s Parent Student Teacher Association (PTSA), the PTSA has donated “$20,000 for air conditioners over the last three years.” “The donations came once parents realized the DOE wasn’t going to help cool [Kaiser], and the school didn’t have the extra funds to buy air conditioners,” said Spear.
The PTSA’s donation can now be seen and felt across campus, with most classrooms now fully air-conditioned. Not only are new air conditioners being installed, but many that were dysfunctional are being replaced. However, what students don’t see are the many hours that parents, faculty, and staff have spent installing these new air conditioner units. Mark Nakakura, a Kaiser High School parent volunteer, says he wants to “help students get the resources they need…[while] building a bond with the community.” Kaiser’s own Freshman/Sophomore Vice Principal, Mike Viernes, opted to help install air conditioners because he witnessed teachers having problems with their own.
In effect, the sweltering heat has brought together parents, teachers, and students towards achieving a common goal: improving the classroom setting. With resources tight and time short, communities are now taking action on their own to combat the heat, and Kaiser High School’s community is one such example.