COURTESY OF SACRED HEARTS ACADEMY
3-D Design teacher Jennifer Higa helps senior Ashley Cantorna apply a smooth solder bead to a stained-glass project. Higa's students now have a spacious room in which to work on glass and wood projects using high-powered tools, including sanders and electric drills.
Building a better tomorrow
Under construction are a visual arts facility, performing arts building and student center
As the school year came to a close in late May, the nonstop chitchat of students and the constant bustle of their footsteps were replaced by the deafening sounds of whirring drills and pounding hammers as Sacred Hearts Academy started the first phase of a capital construction project with the mighty title of "Women Building a Better Tomorrow."
Sacred Hearts Academy
Ka Leo (The Voice)
Cydrienne Llamas, Rachel Magaoay and Malori Mindo
3253 Waialae Ave.
Head of School
1,136 (junior kindergarten through 12th grade)
"Orare et laborare"
For this nearly 100-year-old, all-girl Catholic school in Kaimuki, capital projects of several million dollars are not common.
Head of School Betty White said, "Although there have been frequent renovation projects, the last new building was constructed in 1978."
"Women Building a Better Tomorrow," according to Development Director Celeste O'Brien, includes installing a centralized air-conditioning plant, adding a new visual arts facility and constructing a much-needed performing arts building and a student center.
"With the new visual arts facility, all the art classrooms are now located in one area within the school," said arts teacher Jennifer Higa. "This helps with the coordination of the program, which includes a wide variety of two- and three-dimension art forms, including ceramics, painting, drawing, textiles, photography, videography and digital imagery."
Students are well aware that money is needed to fund "Women Building a Better Tomorrow," and recently had the opportunity to meet the major donor for the just-completed visual arts facility.
Robert McKeough, primary donor for the McKeough Art Center, wanted to honor the memory of his late wife, artist Kay Leman McKeough, and his mother, Leone.
"I know that Kay is looking down and smiling, knowing that her passion for art is being nurtured in the academy students," McKeough said.
Students also appreciate the center.
"The McKeough Art Center is spacious and huge," said senior Catherine Mondoy, a student in the 3-D Glass class. "We are sitting in 'pods' of five to six girls, which allows us to interact and receive constant feedback and constructive suggestions for improving our art forms."
"The open-air ceramics lab gives us a sense of self-discovery and risk-taking to be more creative," said ceramics student Jamie Caranto. "More than ever, I expect that my creative muscles will be flexed in a unique way."
With the completion of the McKeough Art Center, the next phase of "Women Building a Better Tomorrow" will be the construction of the Performing Arts Center, a two-story complex to house the school's thriving choral and dance programs and a second one-story building for the successful band program. Construction is scheduled to begin in May.
"We are excited that the choral program will have a home," said choir student Olivia Borges, who traveled with the choir to sing at Carnegie Hall this past summer. "We've tried to be positive, but using the auditorium's dressing room for choral classes all these years has been challenging."
Band student and sophomore Janelle Matsuura said, "I'm looking forward to having a band room that is big enough to accommodate our 100-member concert band on a daily basis. Having individual practice rooms will take our learning to the next level."
During the past two decades, the school has focused its resources on upgrading math and science labs and advancement of technology in all areas of the curriculum. Now the academy is giving attention to improving the flourishing arts program by replacing inadequate classroom facilities with state-of-the art facilities.
"I'm dreaming of going to dance class in a studio that has mirrors, hand bars and wooden floors!" said dance student Emmanuelle Sumibcay.
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New AC improves teaching and study
With the school year beginning earlier every year, students now start classes during the hottest time of the year, when the average temperature for August and September is 89 degrees. Throw in the humidity and students feel even hotter.
This year, thanks to a new $2.4 million air conditioning system installed over the summer, teachers and students are returning to cool classrooms.
"In all my years of teaching -- and I have taught for a while -- this is the first time that I am in an air-conditioned room," said fifth-grade teacher Susan Phillips. "I find that the AC makes my students and me very alert in the classroom. We are no longer sluggish from the heat and humidity. The girls do not tire easily in the classroom, and I find their group work to be more animated and intellectual. The AC is truly a blessing for our learning environment."
Junior Danielle Pontes said, "The AC makes us more comfortable because we're not sweating and fanning ourselves, and we can focus better because we're not complaining about the heat."
According to Head of School Betty White, the project has been planned for five years and is the first in a series of projects meant to improve the learning environment and quality of education of academy students.
Senior economics teacher Lurline Choy appreciated the renovations. "The AC was certainly an incentive to return to school. We get more done because the classroom is quieter, cleaner and cooler. Doing group work is much easier; the girls tend to be in a better mood, not as fussy, and even the noise level is better. Too, students aren't complaining anymore about their uniforms sticking to them."
Theology teacher Leilani Asuncion-Tagupa agreed: "The cool air helps not only the students, but also the teachers to teach more effectively. I am less exhausted at the end of the day."
For a school that is almost 100 years old, the decision to air-condition the campus is the mere beginning. The construction of a new performing arts center is scheduled to begin in May. With all current rooms air conditioned and soundproofed, the construction will be less intrusive, produce less noise and less dirt, and have fewer distractions for students.
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Do you Sudoku, and why?
"Sudoku requires me to think logically and, therefore, sharpens my thinking skills and helps me problem-solve. My parents hope it carries over to my classes."
"It's addictive! Once I start, I can't stop. It traps me in a world that I can't get out of until the puzzle is complete."
"I feel excited and relieved at the same time when I finally finish. I especially enjoy finishing the ones my mom does wrong!"
"So much fun, yet I'm driven mad to finish it."
"It's a great way to look productive, and I can do it anywhere. I love the challenge and satisfaction when done."
"My friends and I are really competitive. When it comes to Sudoku, we challenge each other. We try to see who thinks the fastest and has the best technique in solving the puzzle."
Ka Yu Chan
"It helps me concentrate. Usually I don't like puzzles, but I can't put Sudoku down!"
"The rules are simple, but the game takes a lot more skill than originally thought. It improves my logical thinking and I love it!"