A buzz-worthy year

Hokua Tarnas ’19 talks about zero-waste honey and life after HPA

Hokua Tarnas

High on the hill above the Upper School’s Ulu Mālama terrace farm sits a collection of beehives. These critical pollinators were just recently established, thanks to the work of Kiawehokua (Hokua) Tarnas ’19 and his project partner, Annika Berezney ’19. For their senior capstone projects, the pair collaborated on establishing the hives and producing HPA’s first 100% sustainable, zero-waste honey. “Educating the community about the importance of bees was also a major component of the project,” he says, “as well as increasing overall involvement in the school farm and sustainability efforts.”

Like the bees he cares for, Tarnas is a something of a pollinator himself, the type of student whose ideas and interests enrich the entire community. He enjoyed the challenges of math, AP Physics, and AP Spanish, but when asked to choose a single favorite subject, Tarnas picks history. “In particular, my AP history teacher, Mr. Mumau, had a way of turning facts into narratives,” he explains.

Outside the classroom, Tarnas served as president of the Spanish club and a member of the Student Council. An endurance athlete, he’s run cross-country since freshman year. Recently, he joined HPA’s annual “horse overnight” on the lower slopes of Maunakea. The trip includes several days of trail riding, recreation, and fellowship around the Hanaipoe Cabin campfire. “This trip was cool for a number of reasons,” Tarnas notes, “but the best part was the long ride home, slowing your mind down to the pace of a walking horse.”

People here go after their goals, but there isn’t pressure to be a certain kind of person or have a certain kind of dream.

On the eve of graduation, Tarnas is grateful for HPA’s unique community. “We come from this small island, and we also come from all over the world, from different education systems, with different goals, different experiences,” he explains. “One of my best friends is from Taiwan, and my family hosted a student from Germany when I was younger. There’s a closeness here, and everyone is looking out for your best interests. People here go after their goals, but there isn’t that academic pressure to be a certain kind of person or have a certain kind of dream.”

Feeling well-prepared for the next phase of his academic career, Tarnas credits his faculty mentors, HPA’s challenging academics, and confidence gained from being part of this close-knit community. He’ll soon be off to the University of Pennsylvania, where he plans to be a communications major, and, if the opportunity arises, keep bees.