Monday, October 28, 2002


About this page

Each week, Hawaii's teenage reporters and photographers tell us about their school. This week's school is Waipahu High School.

Next week: Waialua

From left, football players Justin Taituave, Braddon Varde, Andrew Hale and Alvin Marquez recently squeezed SAT study time into "Dress for Success Day." Every Wednesday, Marauder football players and coaches are required to wear dress shirts and ties to school.

Programs help
build character

Students take the Marauder Challenge
and learn seven habits for success

Facts and figures
Course gives freshmen a foundation

By Angeli Espiritu and Trista Hall
Waipahu High School

Waipahu High School has often been known more for its bad reputation, not for graduating future doctors and lawyers. In an effort to move toward the latter, Waipahu has focused on not only improving academics, but also on building students' character.

One such effort is the Marauder Challenge, a character-building program modeled after a national program.

Students, teachers, administrators, counselors and Waipahu community members take part in a day-long program that discusses violence, racism, and stereotypes.

High-risk counselors Susan Arashiro, Annette Kauahikaua and Lisa Yahiku-Hiromoto introduced the Marauder Challenge to Waipahu High School after learning about the Challenge Day program through a video. With the help and support of school administrators, they started the program.

Students learn about each other and themselves through games, discussions, icebreakers and trust-building exercises. As students come together and share past experiences with each other, barriers between cliques begin to dissolve.

"I learned that if you keep your feelings inside, you can hurt yourself," explained junior Princess Nunu, discussing her experiences at October's Marauder Challenge. "By not sharing it with the people you trust, these feelings begin to build up and you can end up physically hurting yourself instead of mentally. When problems do occur, you should talk about them and let them out slowly."

While only several hundred students can participate in the Marauder Challenge, students schoolwide have another character-building tool in "The Seven Habits for Highly Effective Teens." The guide, written by leadership mentor Stephen Covey, is essential for students because it ensures success for any individual, regardless of circumstances.

Teachers have been trained to introduce and teach these habits so their students not only understand them, but can use them in their everyday lives. Many students have these guides on hand because they are conveniently located in their student planners.

The first habit is to "be proactive." This habit encourages students to be responsible for their actions and to take control of their lives.

"If you are not proactive, people will make decisions for you and control your destiny," said senior Johnalynn Wood.

The second habit is to "begin with the end in mind." Students are taught to determine their goals in life and set their plan into action.

English teacher Cathy Suguitan, talking about her experiences on committing herself to the Seven Habits, said, "This requires the greatest effort because I have to constantly reflect on my goals, while being totally honest with myself."

The third habit is to "put first things first." This helps students prioritize their lives.

"Students are not ready for this," Suguitan said. "Some students are too stuck in their old habits. The rewards of developing a center of principles are tremendous because it's not about building scholarly people, but it's about building people of character."

The fourth habit is to "think win-win." This habit lets each person think that no one is superior and that all students stand on the same level with different strengths and weaknesses, and everyone can win.

"Everything boils down to a person's attitude, and attitude is only a reflection of a person's character," Suguitan said.

The fifth habit is to "seek first to understand, then to be understood." This helps students learn to listen to others' opinions and understand where they are coming from, before speaking out.

The sixth habit is to "synergize." By following this habit, students realize that more can be accomplished if everyone works as a team.

The last habit is to "sharpen the saw." Students learn how to be mentally, physically and spiritually balanced in their lives.

"After learning about the seven habits, you allow yourself to live by different guidelines," junior Jonathan Dasalla said. "No matter what I come across in life, I can think of the seven habits."

The Marauder football program makes its mark not only on the field, but also in the classrooms. Head Coach Sean Saturnio has made character-building first and muscle-building second.

Saturnio's approach to football begins in the classroom. One of his rules is that all football players must sit in the front row in every class. This is his way of teaching them to be good role models.

Saturnio hopes his team understands that they are "student athletes" and not "athlete students."

"It's important that we be good role models because there are a lot of people who think that football players are disrespectful and inattentive," senior Gavin Rivera said. "When they see that we are able to act like mature men, they follow, especially the underclassmen."

While some view football players as jocks, Saturnio aims to dispel this notion by proving to his players and everyone else that they are more than that.

One way of demonstrating this is "Dress for Success." Every Wednesday, players and coaches dress up in "church clothes," consisting of a collared shirt and tie, to honor their education.

Senior Dave Tausa said: "When we're on the field, we represent our school wearing our uniforms and we are seen as just one team. Having 'Dress for Success' gives us the chance to represent ourselves and show people that we are also proud to be in school."

While Saturnio is serious about the program, he is also serious about rewarding his players. Having his team members become good husbands and fathers someday is more rewarding to him than making the state playoffs. He wants his team to develop discipline and important tools to become good men.

"I'm very passionate about my boys learning and being disciplined like my own children," Saturnio said.

At Waipahu High School, students know that grade point averages and SAT scores are only two things that help determine success in life.

Character-building has taught students that it's how we approach life and its challenges that will determine the rest of the success.


Facts and figures

Address: 94-1211 Farrington Highway, Waipahu, HI 96797
Phone: 675-0222
Principal: Patricia Pedersen
School colors: Navy blue and gold
Mascot: Marauder (named after a U.S. plane that flew over Pearl Harbor and crashed into Waipahu High School)
School annual: Ka Mea Ohi (The Harvester)
Newspaper: Cane Tassel
Editor: Angeli Espiritu
Faculty adviser: Vail Matsumoto

Class mascots and colors

2003: Raging Wolves: Silver, baby blue and lavender

2004: Blazing Dragons: Red, black and silver

2005: Mystical Warriors: Blue, white and purple

2006: Iron Panthers: Black, white and gray

Compiled by Angeli Espiritu

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