CHRISTOPHER FUJINO / MOANALUA HIGH SCHOOL|
Moanalua High School's Symphonic Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Elden Seta, was invited to play at last week's All-Japan International Wind Band Conference in Hamamatsu, Japan, the only international band invited to this year's conference.
The high school students’ 10-day
excursion was preceded by intense,
Moanalua High School's Symphonic Wind Ensemble recently received the privilege of playing in the All-Japan International Wind Band Conference in Hamamatsu, Japan.
The 10-day trip, which took place over the school's spring vacation last week, was the first for the ensemble of students in grades 9 through 12.
Last April, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble sent audition tapes to the various organizations and received an invitation to the Hamamatsu conference.
Three to four international bands are normally selected to participate in this conference, but this year, Moanalua's was the only international band performing.
While this particular conference was a competition, Moanalua only took part in an exhibition.
The idea of being the only international band playing with some of the greatest bands in the world was a heavy load, but the music department found another perspective.
"I don't like to think of it as pressure. (Our participation is) more like a responsibility," Moanalua High School Music Director Elden Seta said. "We represent our families, school, community, state, country and, finally, world."
The significance of the opportunity had some of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble students feeling a little stressed.
"I'm nervous because we're going to be the only international band there," senior Daniel Toyooka-Lim said before the event.
But the high caliber of the competition didn't intimidate Seta.
"We can't expect our students to (play like the) Japanese, but to (do the) very best we can," Seta said.
Getting to Japan took a lot of heart, "hard work, determination and practice," sophomore Marty Borja said.
While the students practiced the same number of times a week -- twice on regular weeks and three times on concert weeks -- the practices were "more intense," senior Matt Nishida said.
The students have been working to play with better intonation, more accurate rhythm and more precision.
The students played eight numbers, from the classical operatic aria "Nessun Dorma" to the upbeat "76 Trombones" to Keali'i Reichel's "Kawaipunahele," complete with hula dancers.
With Japan's different culture and environment, the students were looking forward to many new things.
Students toured Tokyo and then headed to Hamamatsu to perform at the conference.
"There's a nine-story department store, and the stage moves, it rotates," junior Allison Kunichika said. "Playing in the concert hall seems different and exciting, too."
"It's cool because it (the concert hall) is connected to the hotel we're staying at," Borja said.
Seta hoped his students would have an open mind and enjoy experiencing a new culture.
Parents, staff and alumni began planning for this trip months ago.
Seta had emphasized before the trip how hard parents worked in preparation.
"This is a great opportunity for students to represent our school, and to put Moanalua on the world map is a great honor."
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planning for careers
Moanalua counselor Julia Toyama and curriculum specialist Priscilla Shimamoto recently attended a national career-planning workshop, the Improved Career Decision-Making program.
Said Shimamoto of the conference: "The focus was on the decision-making process. When a student is choosing a career, the decision-making process is at the heart of it."
"When we go to conferences," said Toyama, "we usually see that what they're talking about is what we are doing here at Moanalua, so it validates our work."
Seven years ago, Toyama, Shimamoto and Gwen Mau, Moanalua's college and career counselor, developed the school's Career and Academic Planning program.
CAP was held during homeroom period in its first year, but the following year, it became its own weekly class period.
"We wanted to create (a program) that would be age-specific and would allow the students to form relationships with the teachers," said Toyama.
The CAP program was created to meet the needs of individual students.
"When we started it, there were only four counselors to (nearly) 2,000 students, and we just couldn't be there for everyone," said Toyama. "With CAP, every student has a teacher who will stay with them for four years and can help meet their needs."
As the school year approaches the fourth quarter, Toyama and Shimamoto are looking for ways to improve the curriculum for next year.
"We want to make the program more instructive," Toyama said. "Choosing a career is a (cyclical) process of decision-making. We want the CAP program to help students through the decision-making process."
Shimamoto, who has taught her own CAP class, noted: "For the seniors, everything just sort of came together. With all the different lessons they had through their four years in high school, like the PDS (personal data sheet, a resume for students), it made the transition much easier."
Toyama and Shimamoto plan to gather a group of seniors together at the end of this year from every CAP class to evaluate the program and offer input as to how it can be improved.
"What we have with our CAP program," said Toyama, "is a program that really fits the needs of our students here at Moanalua."
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About ‘Hawaii’s Schools’
Each week, Hawaii's teenage reporters and photographers tell us about their high school. This week's school is Moanalua High School.
|| Na Hoku O Moanalua
||Hilo High School
||2825 Ala Ilima St., Honolulu 96818
||Royal blue, white and silver
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If there was a movie made about
your life, who would play you, and who
would play your love interest?
"Mandy Moore, because she carries herself well and she's talented. Ashton Kutcher would be my love interest because he's cute and he has a cool personality."
"Jessica Alba would play me because she's pretty and a good dancer, and Ashton Kutcher would play my boyfriend because he's cute and funny."
"Tom Cruise, because I want to be a samurai, and my love interest would be Carrie-Ann Moss (Trinity from 'The Matrix') because she has a great personality."
"Julia Stiles -- my mom says I look like her. Heath Ledger -- my sister thinks he's hot."
"Drew Barrymore, because everybody says I look like her and she's my favorite actress. Heath Ledger would be my love interest because I love British accents."
"Liv Tyler, because she's my favorite actress, and I'd have to say Orlando Bloom for my love interest because he's hot."
"Jackie Chan, because he's Asian, and Jessica Alba, because she's fit."
"Jack Nicholson, because he was really angry in 'Anger Management,' and Jasmine Trias, because she seems really nice."
"Julia Roberts, because everybody says I look like her, and Brendan Frasier because he was so handsome in 'The Mummy.'"
"DMX would play me, and Brooke Burke would be my love interest because she looks good."
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