COURTESY OF FARRINGTON HIGH SCHOOL|
Island Harmony members Joshua Fehoko and Ariane King entertain guests at a recent birthday and retirement party. Students in the club are learning a multitude of ethnic dances, which they get to perform at a variety of places and events.
Some students will sacrifice a long
drive for the unique groups
During her sophomore year, senior Jerricel Castillo followed the same schedule every morning: wake up at 5, leave the house by 6 to beat traffic and ride all the way from Waipahu to Farrington.
Though life would have been much easier if she attended Waipahu High School, she was willing to make the daily commute to Kalihi so she could be a member of the Health Academy, which -- along with BLEST Gs (Bisexual, Lesbian, Exploring, Straight, Transgender, Gay), Collaborative Thinkers Aiming to Persist and Succeed (CTAPS) and Island Harmony -- is one of the organizations unique to Farrington.
The commute "was definitely worth it," said Castillo, who eventually moved to Kalihi Valley. With its health-intensive courses and chances to work with professionals in the field, the Health Academy made her feel like she is "getting a head start on other kids who will be applying for jobs. I'm getting all the background information at an early age."
"There are about 140 students enrolled right now," department head Cindee Izuo said. "Every year, we get about two to four kids with (geographic exceptions), usually from Waipahu or McKinley, who just want to join the Health Academy."
Like the Health Academy, CTAPS is a "school within a school," according to department head Elizabeth Shiraki, but the main difference is that instead of training kids for a certain career path, the program focuses on creating a close bond between students and their teachers.
CTAPS council adviser Joann Ringor believes that the smaller learning community is a major factor in helping students excel.
"The students all have better relationships with each other as well as their teachers," Ringor said. "It helps that we get to see them from grades 9 through 12, so we get to know their strengths and where they need help."
And the program's ideals have paid off. Its students not only have a heavy academic schedule, but they also participate in community service activities. This year's seniors even produced a magazine on water conservation that garnered top awards at the Hawaii International Education Week High School Program.
These academies are not the only groups at Farrington that cannot be found anywhere else. In 2002, student activities coordinator Theresa Ellis and counselors Alyssa Tenney and Iva Tiave created Island Harmony, which was formerly known as the Polynesian Club.
"Our name covers the island culture as a whole, as well as music and relationships," Tenney said. She believes that what separates Island Harmony from similar clubs is its wide focus. Rather than learning only about one culture, Island Harmony's members, many of whom are from different ethnic backgrounds, perform a variety of dances, including those from New Zealand and the islands of Tokelau.
Their appreciation and knowledge of island culture helped them take first place in the high school division of "We Are Samoa" at the Polynesian Cultural Center, which included banana peeling, basket weaving, fire making and dancing competitions.
Adhering to the club's motto of "Come ride the high SEAS: Success through Education, Arts and Service," the students also have to attend study hall on Mondays and Wednesdays.
"If they don't study, they can't go to dance practice," Tenney said.
They also volunteer regularly, visiting places like Beverly Manor and Shriners Hospital and cleaning up Kalihi Stream.
Though it was only established in January, BLEST Gs already has a lengthy to-do list: social get-togethers, official T-shirts to unify them, and activities that would raise awareness of the issues that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people must face.
Led by Teen Center social worker Alison Colby and counselor Marianne Honda, BLEST Gs is preparing for April 21's Day of Silence planned by the American Friends Service Committee.
According to Colby, participants will wear armbands and remain silent the entire day to protest the way those who are homosexual, bisexual or transgendered are treated.
"They're expected to just be completely silent and invisible," she said.
So far, BLEST Gs has received a fairly positive response. Though one teacher mentioned that there are a handful of snickers in class whenever she reads bulletin notices announcing the next club meeting, others have walked up to Colby and told her it is a great idea.
"No one has said anything negative to me," Colby said. "Overall, people are being very supportive."
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ROTC battalions display
prowess in unison
Farrington's Reserve Office Training Corps program hosted the 20th anniversary of the King's Guard Competition on March 6. A battalion of 42 cadets represented Farrington in the competition, where they placed in three out of seven events.
A total of 26 schools in Hawaii competed in seven divisions: armed regulation, no arm regulation, color guard, drill, fax, inspection and squad drill. Schools were judged according to bearing, discipline, precision, spirit and uniformity.
Although the competition was not scheduled to start until 8 a.m., schools such as Kaimuki started to arrive at Farring- ton's front lawn two hours in advance to run through their routines and refine their performances.
Preparation was a key element to doing well in this meet. For weeks prior to this event, Farrington cadets came in as early as 6 a.m. to practice before school started, sacrificed their lunch hours and did not leave for home until they spent an extra three hours practicing after school.
"It was strictly business when it came to practices. From marches to drills, we had to be precise about things like positioning and uniformity," Publicity Officer Stephan Pascual said.
As serious as they were about competing, Battalion Commander Ralph Reyes said winning was not the main emphasis. Reyes' main concern was for the battalion to commit themselves to attending practices and execute discipline and spirit in their performances.
"I didn't expect much, just that they (the battalion) put in their best efforts. Winning a trophy is just an added benefit," he said.
COURTESY OF FARRINGTON HIGH SCHOOL|
The Farrington drill team demonstrates their respect during the flag-raising ceremony.
Those grueling weeks of preparation paid off. Farrington's cadets garnered fourth-place awards in color guard and arm regulation and fifth in drill team exhibition. In addition, Cpl. May Ann Delos Reyes and Cadet Master Sgt. Chester Centino placed in the top 20 for the knock-out drill competition, an event in which cadets must follow a set of commands.
Many people often associate ROTC with arduous exercises, but actually, cadets gain much more than physical training.
"Students learn about the military, respect, loyalty and courage," 2nd Lt. Andrea Dato said.
According to Pascual, the program goes beyond giving students a glimpse into military life. Citizenship and leadership are also taught through classroom lectures and activities.
"You become aware of people around you, and it (the program) just brings you closer to what you want to do in life and hopefully, it's to become a better citizen," Pascual said.
Farrington's ROTC program is reaching out to the community through a mentorship program. Dole and Kalakaua middle schools have created a ROTC club for students who might be interested in becoming future ROTC cadets here at Farrington.
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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 Farrington High School.
||May Godoy and Amber Kubota
||Jo Ann Mastin
||Hilo High School
Farrington High School was named after Gov. Wallace Rider Farrington, the sixth governor of the Territory of Hawaii.
||1564 N. King St., Honolulu, HI 96817
||Colors: Maroon and white
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