My tip. There is NOTHING optional about the application. If you read the application instructions, it says something like the letters of recommendations from coaches, volunteer coordinators, copies of awards, etc are optional. No way. The KS application packet is scored on 24 points. In grades 7 and 9, 8 of the 24 points-a FULL THIRD, is scored for "non academic" areas. Your child can get the full points for excellent grades, test scores, teacher's recommendations, etc, but without a substantial amount of those 8 points from non-academics, getting in is questionable. The "non academic" area should include a range of activities: sports, music, spiritual and MUST include a letter verifying the child's participation. My impression is that activities that center around a Hawaiian cultural area (hula, song, paddling, etc) and a volunteer experience are looked upon favorably. The volunteer letter has to have dates and the student's area of responsibility.
So much stress and effort to get into KS. Hmm. My daughter (Mia's DS' classmate) has also been there from K. I'm not exactly sure how they score at that young age, but her test scores weren't great (95 math, 91 reading), but she had letters from our pastor, her kumu hula (had taken for 2 years) and the choir teacher at her preschool since was the singing "Mary" at their Christmas play.
All that being said, KS really isn't the right school for every child. Please keep that in mind and don't take the "I'm sorry" letter as a reflection of your child or yourself. I've had to tell myself that SIX times with each letter I've viewed as a rejection of my wonderful son . I've unsuccessfully applied for my DS since K and he's now a Sophomore, but in hindsight, he would have been miserable had he gotten in. Instead, he attended a great public school and participated in the GT program and other activities that KS doesn't offer. I think he's much brighter intellectually than my daughter, but she "shows well," follows direction, and loves to sing & dance. In worked out for my son also. DS was actually a full year ahead of what KS students learn in math during the 6th grade while in his GT class in public school.
I know I've strayed from the application tips request, but KS admission is such an emotionally charged process that I wanted to lend some thoughts that there is no perfect school and not getting accepted into KS can be a blessing for some children.