on isle ballplayers
A year-round dilemma forBy Crystal Kua
the Mililani All-Stars: the
mainland or classes?
Ten-year-old Derek Richards of Mililani loves everything about baseball: running bases, fielding ground balls and just plain watching the game.
So when his Mustang Division team, the Mililani All-Stars, won the right to represent Hawaii later this month in a national baseball tournament for 9- and 10-year-olds in California, he and his teammates were raring to go.
But there's one hitch.
Richards and some members of his team have a conflict because their schools are on a modified school calendar also known as a year-round schedule. That means classes begin earlier in the summer than the traditional school year, and if they go to the mainland, they will miss the first couple of weeks of school.
Go to school or play baseball on the mainland?
For Derek, the choice was a no-brainer. "Baseball," Derek exclaimed.
For his mother, however, the decision was a much more difficult one to make. "This was the hardest thing for me as a parent," Teresa Richards said.
As more and more schools opt for modified year-round schedules, more and more families and communities in Hawaii will have tough choices and decisions to make -- just like the Richards family had to do.
This year 75,469 students in 105 schools will be on year-round schedules. That's up from 72 schools this past year and 45 schools the previous year.
Year-round schools actually have the same number of instructional days as traditional calendar schools but the school year is stretched over a longer period of time with more break time in between quarters.
Mililani Middle School, which runs four separate scheduling tracks on a year-round schedule, opened the school year for its first two tracks earlier in the summer. The first wave of other year-round schools begins this week.
The Mililani All-Stars are just one of at least three area youth teams heading for postseason play.
The All-Stars are scheduled to leave for the mainland next week when most Mililani area schools begin. They would be gone anywhere from 10 to 12 days depending on whether they progress to the world series in Texas.
"School is very important but to play baseball like this is a once in a lifetime thing," Mililani All-Stars manager Terrence Derby Jr. said. "It's education for them too and it's not going to happen every year."
Derby, whose children attend school on a traditional calendar, said league officials have been grappling with year-round school scheduling's effect on postseason play.
Derek will be a sixth-grader at Mililani Middle School beginning July 29.
Teresa Richards said she's a staunch advocate of education but she and the rest of her family have also supported Derek's love for baseball, coming out to cheer him on.
"I'm a true believer in academics but I'm a true believer in real-life things," Teresa Richards said. "(Derek) worked really hard to get where he is. Not every kid gets to be on the championship team. ... We're all very involved in baseball."
So the Richards family decided that everyone -- including 7-year-old Kelsey -- would go to the mainland for the tournament. Kelsey's school, Mililani Uka, is also on a year-round schedule which means she'll miss the start of school as well. But her principal was understanding, Teresa Richards said.
Another activity affected by year-round schedules is the city Summer Fun program for schoolchildren from kindergarten through sixth grade.
Joyce Mitsunaga, a recreation specialist with the city Department of Parks and Recreation, said with the number of schools involved in year-round scheduling this year, the department created three separate seven-week schedules between June 7 and Aug. 3 to accommodate the different school start times.
"We responded because we had the flexibility to do that," Mitsunaga said.
But the Summer Fun program does have concerns about their staffing, she said.
"One problem I foresee is with our recruitment of summer leaders," Mitsunaga said. "Because we rely on college students ... when we hit early start dates, they're not available. It throws off our training schedule as well as the recruitment."
Ewa Elementary School will be on a year-round schedule for the first time this year when it begins July 27. "It was a decision we felt that would be better for our students," Principal Irene Nakamoto said.
One advantage for a shorter summer vacation is that students have less time to forget what they learned the year before.
The extra breaks between the quarters allow students to come back each quarter relaxed and rejuvenated to learn, she said.
Nakamoto said school officials learned a lot from other schools that have already gone year-round. For example, parent concern about child care during the quarter breaks led to a partnership with the YMCA to provide care.
Here's the starting dates for schools on a modified year-round schedule:
June 16: Mililani Middle first track.
July 8: Mililani Middle second track.
July 22: Kamalii.
July 23: Kilohana, Kualapuu, Maunaloa, Waikele.
July 26: Holomua, Kaunakakai, Pearl Harbor Kai.
July 27: Ewa, Honowai.
July 28: Haaheo, Kaimiloa, Kipapa, Mililani Mauka, Mililani Uka, Mililani Waena, Waihee.
July 29: Kamaile, Leihoku, Maili, Makaha, Mililani Middle third track, Waianae, Waianae High, Waipahu.
July 30: Hale Kua, Helemano, Iliahi, Kaala, Kahaluu, Kaleiopuu, Kapolei, Kapolei Middle, King Intermediate, Leleihua High, Mauka Lani, Wahiawa, Wahiawa Intermediate, Waipahu Intermediate, Wheeler Intermediate.
Aug. 2: Aiea, August Ahrens, Barbers Point, Hauula, Hilo Intermediate, Iroquois Point, Kaelepulu, Kaneohe, Kapaa, Kapaa Middle, Kapaa High, Keaau High, Kilauea, Makakilo, Makalapa, Pearl Ridge, Pohakea, Pope, Waialua Intermediate/High, Waianae Intermediate, Waimalu, Webling, Wheeler.
Aug. 3: Aina Haina, Lihikai, Wailupe Valley, Wilson.
Aug. 4: Ahuimanu, Anuenue, Fern, Hahaione, Haleiwa, Kaewai, Kainalu, Kaiulani, Kalani High, Kalihi, Kalihi-uka, Kauluwela, Keolu, Koko Head, Likelike, Linapuni, McKinley High, Mililani High, Moanalua, Niu Valley Middle, Paia, Puuhale, Red Hill, Salt Lake, Waialae, Waialua, Waimanalo Elementary/Intermediate.
Aug. 5: Dole Middle, Lanakila, Moanalua Middle, Waikiki.
Aug. 6: Aiea High.
Aug. 9: Moanalua High.
Aug. 11: Ala Wai.
Aug. 12: Kamiloiki, Kapunahala.
Aug. 13: Kahuku.
Aug. 14: Mililani Middle fourth track.
Aug. 16: Aliamanu.