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‘Iolani fair molds students into leaders


    The fair opens Friday with the theme “Road Trip USA.”

Longtime ‘Iolani School teacher and adviser Ernette Au remembers when she first helped with the school’s annual carnival in the 1980s. Assigned to the pizza booth, she and other teachers were tasked not only with selling slices during the carnival but with making and baking everything themselves in the cafeteria.

Now in her 42nd year at ‘Iolani, Au watched the annual carnival become the Family Fair in 1992, and the ‘Iolani Fair in 2006. For 15 years she’s served as the lone faculty adviser for the event, which has seen a dramatic increase in student involvement since the ’80s and ’90s.


>> Where: ‘Iolani School, 563 Kamoku St.
>> When: Noon to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
>> Cost: Free
>> Info:
>> Note: $5 parking available at Kaimuki HS

“When I first started, it was just four students” who organized the fair, said Au, who also teaches advanced-placement classes along with maintaining her volunteer adviser duties. “Now there are four main (chairpersons), four ‘shadows,’ four advisers and 60 divisional chairs.”

When the fair opens Friday with the theme “Road Trip USA,” approximately 75 students will have participated in the planning process along with the more than 2,000 adult volunteers who will provide manpower. While managing so many people can be stressful, Au said she still looks forward to seeing how the students she works with develop during their years at ‘Iolani.

“I love giving them the opportunity to be leaders,” she said. “Sophomores are recruited in their ninth-grade year to become shadows. Then they move on to become co-chairs, and then the year after, they move on to become advisers.

“It’s great to watch them grow. I haven’t seen one of them not grow as a leader since I started (advising student volunteers) in 2002.”

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