COURTESY OF KAPOLEI HIGH SCHOOL
This year a Kapolei team won the Japan Wizards Competition, hosted by the Japan-America Society of Hawaii, for the first time. Receiving their award are sophomores Michelle Hosaka, second from left, and Ryan Snyder, and junior Nicole Takahashi.
Big on Japan
Three students take top honors in a local trivia competition
And the winner of this year's Japan Wizards Competition, for the first time, is the team from Kapolei High School: Michelle Hosaka, Ryan Snyder and Nicole Takahashi!"
Kapolei High School
Eye of the Hurricane
91-5007 Kapolei Parkway
Teal, black and silver
On Feb. 4, the Japan Wizards competition was held at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel. Students from across the state came to test their knowledge of Japanese government, transportation, culture, sports, music, and movies.
According to the Japan-America Society of Hawaii, "The Japan Wizards Competition is designed to teach high school students lifelong learning skills of teamwork, how to research, personal responsibility, and operating under pressure." The nonprofit society promotes friendship between Japan and the United States and hosts the Japan Wizards Competition every year.
Registration rules state that contestants must be taking Japanese language classes as an elective. Potential contestants are ineligible if their parents are from Japan or if they have lived in Japan.
Tryouts were held at the beginning of the school year. The team members began practice, memorizing and rehearsing for months for their big day.
"I was shocked that we won," Takahashi, a junior, said. "We practiced and practiced and I didn't feel that we were ready, but we pulled it off."
Darlene Okada, Japanese teacher and team adviser said that her students were almost in disbelief when they heard their names being called as the winners.
"We wondered if they had made some kind of mistake," Okada said.
Snyder, a sophomore, shared his personal philosophy: "Perseverance, hard work and determination is the key to all victories in your lifetime and this competition is an example of those words."
Along with winning first place in the overall competition, the team won an all-expense-paid trip to Japan. They will also be traveling with four other teams who placed high in the competition from Sacred Hearts Academy, King Kekaulike High School, Saint Francis School and Saint Louis High School.
Takahashi said, "After studying about Japanese culture and history for so many months, it is exciting to have the opportunity to actually see what we've been studying right at its source."
The team will leave for Japan on June 7 and return home ten days later on the 17th.
When asked why she wanted to compete in the Japan Wizards competition, Hosaka, a sophomore, said, "I was interested about Japan, and the competition sounded like fun!"
These three students were not the first from Kapolei to compete in the competition, but they were definitely the first to bring home the gold. Each team member was proud to be able to bring that award back to the school and to represent Kapolei High this summer.
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Human services initiatives help students learn
The projects are part of eight pathways introducing skills required for a career
Change. That was the goal, according to the teachers of the Human Services Academy at Kapolei High School. The appropriately named "Proposal for Change," assigned at the start of the school year, was to effect change in the world and in students, regardless of the difficulty it may have demanded.
Lasting all year, the project was broken into different steps, one for each quarter: proposal, action plan, implementation and presentation. All Human Services Academy students were required to create and complete a project.
The Human Services Academy is one of Kapolei's eight career pathway academies. Teachers Liane Viloria, Edita Kusumoto and Joan Lewis lead academy juniors and seniors.
The project was not assessed by just the end result, but by the progress made throughout the year. Students were provided rubrics and checklists to keep on track. Students also turned in pictures, letters, survey data and other evidence to show their progress.
Another goal was for the students to learn basic skills useful for any human services career, including project management, teamwork, independent learning, quality work and communication skills. A more profound lesson the teachers hoped the students would learn was the sense of fulfillment in knowing that even teenagers can make a difference.
The teachers are pleased with the outcome. Viloria said, "If I was able to get through to just one student, then I would say this whole thing was worthwhile."
This desire for change was inspired not only by the connection to the school's and academy's purpose, but by the book-turned-movie "Pay it Forward."
After watching the movie, junior Angelina Moefu approached Viloria in tears. Moefu explained, "I wanted to focus on the change that is needed with our homeless."
Moefu, along with her family and friends, prepared meals and fed the homeless in Aala Park and Ala Moana Park. After explaining her project, she also received donations of drinks and coolers from the Kapolei McDonald's.
"I felt so motivated to help people, and I plan on continuing to feed the homeless every year from now on," Moefu said. "Hopefully, people feel the same way I do and try to help in any way they can."
Junior Christopher Zollinger-Abeyta's project was to change the bus route in the Honokai Hale area.
"Five years ago, my sister was actually hit by a car on that road. This is what inspired my project," Zollinger-Abeyta said. He went through the official process of petitioning for a bus route change.
Zollinger-Abeyta added, "The bus company seemed really eager to address the problem of the traffic in that area."
Meanwhile, senior Sarah Taylor started a new Kapolei High tradition.
"The Senior Breakfast had been a tradition at my old school and I have been looking forward to it since my freshman year," she said. "I had to gain official approval from Principal Al Nagasako, Student Activities Coordinator Robin Ogino, senior class adviser Grant Laimana and junior class adviser Stacy Kawamura. After I did so, I needed at least 100 juniors to sign up to help serve the breakfast."
Her goal is to have the students come together one last time before graduation.
Taylor has spoken to several restaurants and stores about donations for food and prizes. She has already received word from the school cafeteria staff, which will help prepare the food that day.
"I really wanted to promote unity in our school and everyone has been really supportive of this project," Taylor said. "I also hope that the tradition will continue at this school for the seniors next year and every year to follow."
Another project still going strong today is recycling to reduce campus litter. Senior Brooke Sorelli and juniors Caleb Spencer and Matthew Valmoja placed recycle bins throughout the campus and diligently emptied the bins.
"I really feel that our project has been worthwhile and a good example of our school's motto 'One Team' because we all worked together to make it happen," Valmoja said.
"This entire project has centered a lot on the three things we value most at Kapolei, caring, dignity, and integrity," Sorelli said.
The team used the recycling funds to create a memorial garden for Kapolei students who have died since the school opened six years ago.
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What is your anti-drug?
"My anti-drug is break dancing. It's something my friends and I have been doing all our lives."
"My anti-drug is optimism. By knowing that there may be something good in store for me in the future, it gives me the motivation to keep myself from ruining things for myself now. "
"I am addicted to drawing. That is what keeps me motivated."
"My conscience is my anti-drug."
"My anti-drug is poetry. It's a way to express myself and it keeps me out of trouble."
"My anti-drug is pizza. It tastes so good -- it's like a party in my mouth that I don't want to end!"
"Anime is my anti-drug. It is a better investment than spending money on drugs."
"Basketball is my anti-drug. It's my passion and I wouldn't do anything to mess it up."