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Herriman Journal

Ohana means unity for Oak Leaf Elementary families

Mar 01, 2024 12:15PM ● By Jet Burnham

The Bsharah family makes leis for Oak Leaf Elementary School’s Family Luau Night. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

It was cold and rainy on the night of Jan. 25, but inside Oak Leaf Elementary School, families basked in the warmth of family, friends and Hawaiian-themed games, crafts and treats.

The Hawaiian word ‘ohana’ was chosen as this year’s school theme to help unify students and families for Oak Leaf Elementary’s second year.

“Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind,” Principal Ronna Hoffman said. “This ‘ohana’’ theme has been fun this year as we’ve talked about being inclusive with our Oak Leaf ohana/family.” 

Every school event this year has tied into the ohana theme, from the bubble run fundraiser to Hawaiian dress up days during Spirit Week, to snow cones and Hawaiian-themed swag for contest prizes.

“We’re really just trying to focus in on that family and inclusivity we have,” PTA Secretary Kaily White said. “When the school opened up, it fed in from three different schools, so we’re really just trying to create that sense of community.”

The purpose of the Luau Night was for staff members, students and their families to have fun together. Families watched a movie, played games, made crafts and learned to hula hoop and limbo. Third-grader Jaxon Briscoe loved the free-play in the STEM room. His mom, Ami, said the PTA events are always fun and well-run.

“They do quite a few family events, and the PTA does a lot to support the students and teachers,” Briscoe said. “Everything is very welcoming.”

Sixth-grader Mallory Bsharah said she and her family came to Luau Night to have fun and to taste the Hawaiian themed floats and tiki popcorn the PTA members had been preparing all day.

“I smelled them cooking it while I was in class,” Mallory said.

Her father, Perry Bsharah, said PTA events like Luau Night provide a much-needed opportunity for parents to connect.

“This allows parents to interact and provides a sense of community,” Bsharah said.

White said a lot of work goes into planning and running the PTA events but that it is worth it when there is a great turnout.

“We have experienced wonderful support from our community; when we post activities, people just show up, and we really love and appreciate that,” White said.

She said the kids are thrilled to bring their parents to the school to meet their teachers.

“I think having an opportunity for a student to share the place that they’re at for seven hours a day and the teacher that they spend so much of their time with—the students get so excited,” she said. “They say, ‘I can’t wait to bring my mom to meet my friends’ and ‘I can’t wait to bring my dad to meet my teachers.’ It’s just such a special way of bringing people together where there’s no pressure, there’s no agenda, we just want to get together and hang out and have an opportunity to get to know each other.”

Oak Leaf Elementary has just over 500 students and will continue to grow as the surrounding neighborhoods are developed.

White said in addition to the support from parents, the school staff has also been supportive, especially Hoffman.

“I just cannot say enough good things about her and how wonderful she is,” she said. “I think she is one of the reasons why the school is just such a wonderful place.” λ



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