Monday, April 12, 2004

Community’s love
replaces lost cameras

A flood of gifts helps Waialua High
School after a recent break-in

After burglars made off with the cameras belonging to Waialua High School's newspaper, students resorted to drawing pictures for some stories. But for their April issue, they are trying out more cameras than they'd ever imagined they'd have.

The three cameras that were stolen from the news-writing class on Feb. 27 have been replaced by 15 different models given to the school, along with accessories and film, in an upwelling of generosity from neighbors and strangers as far away as New Jersey.

Two donated video cameras have taken the place of the one lifted from the social studies room. And $1,434 in cash gifts poured in as well, including a gallon-size plastic bag full of coins hand-carried from Hauula.

"For everybody that does something nasty, there are so many more good human beings out there," said Aloha Coleman, principal of Waialua High & Intermediate School. "We were very surprised by the number of people who stepped forward from within our community but also far away. We're very, very grateful."

The news-writing class, which produces the paper, is sharing the new cameras with the school's photography class, she said. The monetary donations will help replace other items stolen, including a laptop computer and printer.

"I'm having fun with these new cameras," said Georgina Onesi, a senior who has worked on the Waialuan for three years. "They're better than our old ones. For sports we can capture the action without blurring."

Burglars chiseled their way past the newsroom door the night before the school inaugurated its alarm system, which was installed as part of campuswide renovations. Every classroom at the North Shore school is now wired with alarms, and teachers are taking extra precautions with valuables, Coleman said.

Gail Kuroda, English teacher and newspaper adviser, said that as soon as a story about the burglary ran in the Star-Bulletin on March 3, people started calling and dropping by the school to offer their cameras.

"There has been such a response to the article," she said. "It's simply phenomenal."

One of the first calls came from software engineer John Feagans, of Petaluma, Calif., who read the story online and called to see what the students needed before mailing off a Sony Digital Mavica.

"I was shocked to read what had happened," said Feagans, whose family owns a home on Kauai and supports local charities. "Whoever perpetrated this is hurting the students' future, because the kids are going to need these skills in the future to get good jobs."

The Waialuan has matured in the past three years from a photocopied, stapled newsletter into a "real" newspaper that recently won a statewide award and attracts readers beyond the campus. Now its student journalists have the equipment they need to continue on that path.


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