Students Tend to the Lily Pond

Rachel Breitweser ’03

November 7, 2016

Hawaiian studies students put their study of mālama ‘āina into practice while clearing debris out of the Lily Pond.

PE faculty Rocky Higgins ’68 led the team of students in clearing out hala fronds, litter and other items that had fallen. Before getting their feet wet, Higgins gave students a rundown on the history of Punahou’s special body of water.


The pond was used to irrigate Rice Field for crops that fed the student population in the School’s early days. Students tried to set the scene in their imaginations. “Did they have horses on campus?” one asked. “No, but horses were how students got to school,” Higgins explained. “People rode to school on horses?!” said another, incredulous.

Six or seven years ago, after noticing how murky the Lily Pond had become, Higgins took it upon himself to become its unofficial caretaker. “Two summers ago, we removed 800 pounds of fish, which we sent to aquaponic programs across the state,” he shared.

“OK, who’s going in?” Higgins asked. At this, hands shot up quickly and students were soon at the water’s edge. “Walk softly. Lift and lay your feet,” Higgins advised. “Oh, and there are some fresh water piranha native to the Amazon in here too, but they’re vegetarian. They won't eat you.”

Students helped each other reach the end of the pond in front of the Chapel’s aptly named Lily Pond Room. “You're ok. Fish are nothing to be scared of,” said a student to her particularly hesitant classmate.

For most, this was their first foray into the pond, but for Dylan, a freshman, it was his third. “I’ve been in the Lily Pond once in second grade and another time in fourth grade. I was pushed,” he admitted.

This was just one service learning experience for David Del Rocco’s students. The malama 'āina unit also includes visits to Griffith’s Garden and planting kalo with the second-graders of the Kosasa Neighborhood.

Before heading off to their next classes, students admired their handiwork: a couple garbage bags full of leaf litter and a deeper appreciation of the Lily Pond.


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