Star-Bulletin Features

Monday, December 17, 2001



Damien finds strength in company, not in numbers

The Music Ministry gave an enthusiastic performance at Damien's annual Mahalo Night, an evening of fellowship and entertainment in appreciation of parents and families.

Retreats reinforce
students’ faith

From prayer in the classroom to
outside activities, religion plays
a big role in education

Faculty, students operate as a finely tuned machine

By Jourdan Socito
The Ke Ali'i

As the school bell rings, sophomore religion teacher Neil Nitta begins class. "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," says an understated chorus of students and teacher.

At Damien, faith plays a major role in student life, working its way seamlessly in and out of the bounds of the classroom.

First off, the Freshman Day of Recollection is one of three major retreats at Damien. Although only one day long, young ninth-graders are able to establish a solid beginning in developing their faith.

"It helps them to realize what role God plays in their lives, and also teaches them the value of being themselves," says Brent Limos, director of Campus Ministry.

The Sophomore Day of Recollection builds upon the previous year's retreat, allowing students to reflect, once again, but to also look toward where they are headed, teaching them to make better choices in life.

Indeed, the first two retreats are relatively small in scale and purpose, but are necessary in order to get the student to a certain level of faith and maturity before going on the third and final retreat experience.

As juniors, students are considered mature enough to attend the Encounter Retreat. This retreat can easily be called the most valuable part of a student's time at Damien. This is because the retreat allows the student to "encounter" God, as its name suggests, and to experience something that cannot be learned in the classroom. The retreat is three days long, allowing time for meditation and evaluation of their lives.

Senior Darrin Shinagawa received communion from Father Paul Zaccone at a recent liturgy.

What makes this retreat even more meaningful is that seniors, who had attended the retreat the previous year, become its leaders. This type of peer leadership increases the comfort level of the student participants as they share their feelings with each other.

The retreat itself helps a student to get his act together at a critical point in his life. "The Encounter Retreat gets students to think about what they need and what's really important in life. It helps to build character and integrity, and hopefully brings them to a sense of maturity," says Limos.

Many seniors who have served as either rector or group leader have found it to be rewarding and much better than when they went as a junior. "It's self-gratifying knowing that you're touching someone else's life and letting them know that they're not alone," says senior Brandon Tamanaha, a recent group leader.

In addition to the retreats, Damien has many other aspects that develop faith as well as spirituality.

"Through the students efforts, they get a sense of well-being and appreciation. They learn to give but do not expect anything in return," says Nitta.

Faculty, students
operate as a finely
tuned machine

Creativity and flexibility fuel a
sense of pride and help
generate funds and fun

By Lawrence Lau
The Ke Ali'i

Size doesn't matter. Well, except in the case of Godzilla, because size is merely the shape of the physical shell that houses the true essence of a being.

Damien Memorial High School is a comparatively small institution composed of a student body of barely 400 and faculty numbering roughly 30, yet the school operates as a finely tuned machine, nullifying this often-thought handicap of being a "little" guy.

The merits of any school, regardless of its size, rest in its people, particularly its teachers and students.

While the number of faculty has decreased in recent years due to budget cuts, the school still manages to utilize its human resources to the fullest.

The versatility of the faculty is surprising because they often must adapt to the needs of the students.

Physics teacher Ronnie Guerzon is well versed in biology and also coaches freshman basketball. "I think God blessed me with a lot of abilities, and I chose to use it to help others succeed." He, along with many other teachers, works in and out of the classroom as athletic coaches and club advisors.

The Damien student body makes up for its relatively small size with creativity and flexibility. For example, the Damien Student Council operates primarily on funds raised by the ingenuity of its members.

As part of their final days of Pride Week, the council members rented the Ice Palace for a dance, selling more than 450 tickets and generating profits to eventually be put back into the school for other events.

"Our purpose (as a student council) is to provide students with an opportunity to escape everyday school life and to show pride while having fun," says Karl Sault, student body president.

Like its larger counterparts, Damien encompasses the bustling cycle of change, the opportunities for personal growth through extracurricular activities and the shared belief of unity through a singular institute of education.

"The teacher makes the difference in the classroom," remarks Principal Michael Weaver. "You can have all the technology and resources you want, but if you don't carry professionals at the front of the classroom, it won't make any difference."


Each week, Hawaii's teenage reporters and photographers tell us about their high school. This week's school is Damien Memorial High School. After the Christmas break, Hawaii's Schools returns Jan. 14 with St. Andrew's Priory.

Damien High

Address: 1401 Houghtailing St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Phone: 841-0195
Principal: Michael E. Weaver
President: Br. W. Gregory O'Donnell
Director of student activities: Abraham F. Mokunui Jr.
Athletic director: Herbert N. Lloyd
Newspaper: The Ke Ali'i
Editor: Lawrence Lau
Faculty adviser: Sharaine Kim
School colors: Mauve (purple) and gold
Team name: Monarchs


Crest displays several important symbols

Here are the meanings behind the elements in the Damien crest:

>> The Celtic cross represents the Irish heritage of the Christian brothers whose educational traditions are carried on at Damien.

>> The school motto, "Viriliter Age" (to act manfully), is in the shield.

>> At the upper left of the shield is the background of the royal Hawaiian coat of arms with a star to represent Hawaii, the 50th state, Damien, the 50th secondary school established here, and the light of faith.

>> The circular band around the coat of arms signifies God's eternal encompassing love.

>> The seal of the Christian brothers is in the upper right of the shield and contains their motto, "Facere et Docere" (To do and to teach).

>> The bottom of the shield contains the heraldic lion, a symbol of the Damien Monarchs. The lion also symbolizes that true characteristics of the Damien man: courage, honesty, perseverance and nobility.


If you were a Christmas present, what would you be?

"I would be a Christmas card, because it's simple and sweet. And if you would open me up, you will get a nice treat."
Ellison Alquiza

"I would be a mirror and reflect on people's lives and see what everybody is like both inside and outside."
Sam Alfilier

"I would be a diary so that people can confide in me within my pages."
Marc Yago

"I would be a Christmas tree so that I can make Christmas complete."
Kimo Carvalho

"I would be an art set, because I am very into art and colors. Drawing/sketching keeps me busy and peaceful."
John Tubera

"I would be a superheavyweight battlebot because I am made of 425 pounds of metal, which I think is really cool!"
Christopher Vinluan

"I would be a trophy, because it would show all of the good things I have achieved."
Daniel Roller

"I would be money, because everyone needs it.
Chris Lum Lee

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