Moʻolelo Hawaiʻi seniors take a stand


Photo by Riann Fujihara

Seniors Kaleo Deguilmo, Dylan Falces, and Delissa Rano listen while Kumu Kapulani gives instructions. Kumu Kapulani converted her traditional desks with chairs to standing desks to improve brain and body engagement in her classes.

Seniors of Kumu Kapulani Antonio’s course, Moʻolelo Hawaiʻi, are literally taking a stand during class with their new Ergotron standing tables in the place of where desks and chairs used to be.

The idea of keeping the students on their feet started two years ago and was initially meant for Kumu Kapulani’s 4th block.

Kumu Kapulani had observed that after lunch, it was hard for her students to stay awake. She heard about standing desks from campus teachers who had visited schools in California and other areas on the mainland.

The order for these standing desks was put in a couple of years ago, after Principal Kaʻawa asked Kumu Kapulani if she wanted to pilot the use of the desks at Kamehameha Maui.

“When they [the desks] came, I started to do more research, and I saw that it’s actually better to keep the chairs out,” Kumu Antonio said. “I found that it combats obesity and has health benefits for the brain and the body.”

A 2008 study showed that children focus better during a complicated mental task if they move around, and many experts support the idea of fidgeting and moving around during class.

The Ergotron website has more information on the benefits of standing more during the school day, including a sitting and standing calorie burn calculator. They also include case studies that show health benefits to the back and metabolism. The website states that average Americans sit for 87% of their work day.

Although Kumu Kapulani’s students stand for the whole period, they are given a short break in the middle of class to stretch and relax their legs outside.

“It takes a while to get used to, but after a while you kind of get used to it. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it[‘s bad] when you’re tired, but I think it’s cool to be different sometimes,” said senior Talia Leauanae, “Maybe having one day with chairs would be nice.”

The Ergotron tables have a lever on the right side to adjust the height of the desk. With four wheels at the bottom of the table, the students can move around freely. It also has a hook on the front to hang backpacks.

“I personally kinda like standing because I like how mobile I am. It’s easier to move into groups, and it’s not as bad as people think because we can still put a lot of our weight on top of the table instead of our legs,” senior Kailani Kealoha said.

The standing desks have proven to be an interesting experiment for Kumu Kapulani. She believes that it influences the students to become more engaged and that, so far, it has even made her research more interactive teaching activities to fully take advantage of the benefits of standing desks in classes.

“People can still kinda fidget around if they want to, and it’s not distracting. But just the things that people share, they seem to be more than my other classes,” Kumu Antonio said. “I’m not sure yet what kind of difference it makes. I have to wait ’til the end of the year.”