COURTESY OF KAISER HIGH SCHOOL
Kaiser High School student Eimi Kurita has competed internationally in her 10 years of practicing karate, most recently winning two gold medals in Uruguay.
Karate champ fights to achieve in school, sport
At 16 the black belt wins competitions around the world
At the tender age of 6, Eimi Kurita began something that would take her around the world. This 16-year-old champion has traveled to more places than most of us have ever dreamed of going. Kurita has dedicated her life to karate, and it has proved to be a wonderful experience.
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Blue and gold
The young Kurita got her first taste of karate from her 19-year-old brother, Masakazu.
"(Karate) looked really fun," she said, so with her mother's permission, Kurita decided to try it out. She is now a second-degree black belt.
As a child, Kurita did not know what she was getting herself into, "but she has a strong personality and always works hard to win," says Hiroko Kurita, her mother.
Karate practices take place every day. Kurita trains on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for two hours and helps her instructor on the remaining days.
Despite her hectic karate schedule, school always comes first.
"She is always struggling to keep up with schoolwork," Hiroko said. "She may be tired, but she will stay up late and finish it."
Eimi Kurita has devoted much of her time and effort to karate but still manages a normal teenage lifestyle, hanging out with friends and making jokes.
The stressful environment of karate has not gotten Kurita down. This fun-loving girl likes making people laugh with her crazy jokes.
One of her fondest memories of karate happened while on a trip.
"Me and my friends got busted for having guys in our room," Kurita said. "We had been throwing water balloons at each other all day and playing pranks on them. We went and stole all their stuff and brought it to our room.
"Well, my friends stole their stuff. I didn't do it," Kurita added with a gleam in her eye and a smile on her face.
But Kurita has committed her life to karate. She has been fortunate enough to travel to Germany, Uruguay, Florida, California, North Carolina and New Orleans.
In August she competed in the Junior Pan America competition in Uruguay for students in North and South America, one of seven from Hawaii and 42 from the United States. She won gold in both of the divisions she entered, kata and kumite. In early November, Kurita competed in the Junior World Tournament in Cyprus. Kurita claimed first place in kumite and second place in kata.
With 10 years of karate training under her belt, "hopefully, after, she will be glad she went so far," her mother says. "She can prove to herself and other students (that) if you work hard, you can get anything."
Cancer gives student new perspective
In a world where a typical day includes a trip to the hospital, Kaiser High School sophomore Ryan Kitamura still finds things to smile about. In spite of everything, he still has his life.
Kitamura has an aggressive form of cancer, acute lymphocytic B-cell mature leukemia. He was first treated for the disease in early 2002 and went into remission after six months of chemotherapy. But the leukemia returned in early 2005.
"My kind of leukemia isn't supposed to relapse. It's rare for my type. Lucky me, huh?" Kitamura said.
Kitamura is now recovering after receiving a bone marrow transplant last July -- an unusual match because the donor was not related.
"Your best bet is always family first. They said it's really hard to find an unrelated donor. You need to be pretty lucky," Kitamura said.
Confidentiality rules prevent Kitamura from learning the identity of his bone marrow donor until a year after the transplant. However, he looks forward to meeting him.
"I owe my life to him," Kitamura said.
COURTESY OF KAISER HIGH SCHOOL
Sophomore Ryan Kitamura, a cancer patient, is recovering after receiving a bone marrow transplant in July.
Kitamura misses all aspects of school life, even the daily homework.
"You should treasure every moment you can and make the most of it. You may never get the chance to do it again," Kitamura said.
He is currently taking classes with two different online schools, one to finish up his ninth-grade courses and another to keep up with his 10th-grade classes.
When asked if there was anything he was not looking forward to in school, he replied, "Nah, I'll take on all the challenges head first." Kitamura hopefully will be back at Kaiser for the 2006-2007 school year.
One good thing that Kitamura gained from his battle with cancer is that it helped him decide the career he would like to pursue.
"Getting cancer greatly influenced my choice of wanting to go into medicine. When I saw how much doctors work and how much nurses work, it really inspired me," he said.
Kitamura likes to help the nurses whenever he can: "I enjoy doing work like that. It's rewarding. You get to see people get better, and you just feel all warm inside."
He plans to give back to the Kapiolani Medical Center by volunteering there when he regains his health. "People worked hard to get me through this. I'll do my best to help others in their time of need."
Accreditation committee calls for new bell schedule
Teachers and staff of Kaiser High School gathered in the library after school on March 9 to await preliminary results of a four-day-long evaluation performed by a visiting Western Association of Schools and Colleges committee.
This spring, Kaiser once again found itself under the microscope, vying for the most coveted title known to educators: maximum accreditation approval of six years.
Kaiser's last accreditation was on the condition that a group of reviewers would return in three years to observe if progress had been made.
This year's WASC team, a group of people from a variety of educational roles who have knowledge of Hawaii's education system, spent four days assessing Kaiser by visiting classrooms, meeting with staff and faculty committees and interviewing students, teachers and administrators.
"A lot of it is just to see what is happening in the classroom," said Avis Nanbu, a WASC team member and school-renewal specialist from the Mililani complex.
At the March 9 meeting, the committee distributed its recommendations for improvement at Kaiser.
Among these recommendations were a revised bell schedule, better student support and using assessments to monitor student progress in standards.
Kaiser will not receive the accreditation team's official decision until May.
"What would you change about Kaiser High School?"
"We should add an extra lane going up the entrance to Kaiser to decrease the traffic jams before and after school. They are a bummer."
"I think our school is all right the way it is. There's no major problems. It all pretty much works."
"There needs to be elevators in each building so it's more handicap-accessible."
"The bell schedule needs to be revised so the classes rotate and we're not missing more than one class a day."