This upcoming school year some Hawaii students will be back to school, but they won’t be hitting the books.
No textbooks for students at Cathedral Catholic Academy because their curriculum is called project-based learning.
“I should enjoy it because my backpack is going to be a lot lighter,” said student Eric Ngo.
Under project-based learning, students are given a topic each quarter and then they apply it to science, English and even math using hands-on projects.
But why the change?
“Students have changed. Their brains have changed. Students learn differently now. They learn by play,” said CCA Principal Michael Ka'ekukui.
This year 5th grade instructor Brigitte Bolos is teaching her students the importance of sustainability this quarter.
“We’re just going to be planting things, growing things, learning about plant life that way – getting really hands on,” said Bolos.
That includes turning part of their hands-on project into a farm to table meal in their cafeteria.
“It poses the question: If the barge never came, would we be able to survive. I think our students would because they know how to plant and grow,” said Bolos.
Students are into it, but parents need a little convincing.
“I am a bit excited, but at the same I’m a little nervous,” said Gary Rego, a parent.
After the school announced the change, enrollment dropped from 107 to 94 students. That's a 12 percent drop.
“To be skeptical is part of the process I think. To kind of just ni’ele and see how we’re doing,” said Ka'ekukui.
School officials have not lowered or raised the tuition this year. Instead they froze it, using the extra funds from not having to buy textbooks for project costs.