COURTESY OF SACRED HEARTS ACADEMY
Work-study students Felicia Faumuina, left, and Mollie Bruhl help Alumnae Director Andrea Hamilton fold T-shirts for the upcoming Superfair. The academy provides financial assistance for about 20 percent of the enrolled student body through the work-study program.
Commitment to service
Tuition aid comes to student aides in a work-study program
Once the dismissal bell signals the end of another school day, most students anxious to get home quickly grab their backpacks. However, for about 20 percent of Sacred Hearts' students, work-study obligations must be met before they can leave.
Sacred Hearts Academy
Ka Leo (The Voice)
Cydrienne Llamas, Rachel Magaoay and Malori Mindo
3253 Waialae Ave.
Head of school
1,140 (junior kindergarten to 12th grade)
"Orare et laborare"
"Sacred Hearts students in grades 7-12 who receive tuition assistance have specific tasks for about 30 minutes every day, including cleaning a classroom, filing papers or manning a computer lab," said Director of Admissions Karen Muramoto, work-study program supervisor.
The concept of work-study has been part of the academy since the school's beginning nearly 100 years ago.
"Fifty years ago the majority of the faculty was sisters who did everything from teach to maintenance and cleaning," Development Director Celeste O'Brien said. "Students were required to help the sisters clean hallways, stairs and classrooms. The sisters believed it was an opportunity for students to develop responsibility and to show their appreciation for the tuition assistance they'd been given."
Times might have changed, but the philosophy of the work-study program has stayed the same and has become more important as the cost of private education has risen to about $10,000 a year.
"Part of the academy's philosophy is to maintain a diverse student body. Through our work-study program, we reach out to students from different cultural, ethnic, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds who deserve and want the opportunity to attend the academy," Muramoto said.
Students in the work-study program demonstrate not only financial need, but also good character, a sense of responsibility and commitment to their assigned work.
Sophomore Felicia Faumuina demonstrates these characteristics.
"Felicia is a bright, dependable student," said alumnae coordinator Andrea Hamilton, Faumuina's supervisor. "She's polite, does her assigned work and willingly stays longer if I need some extra chores done around the office. Her work is unfailing and terrific."
Faumuina said, "My family moved to Waianae from Alaska to help care for my grandma who is seriously ill. Meeting obligations for a family of six children is a challenge for my parents, but my mom says my work-study is preparing me for my future, and my dad says I am taking ownership for my education."
Work-study obligations do not stop students from pursuing other school activities, however. For example, juniors Cici Mento and Angela Yuen not only excel in their academic work as honor students, but also take part in extracurricular activities.
"I do sports and band after school on top of work-study, and I am forced to exercise time management to get my obligations done on time," said Mento.
"Being in the work-study program for three years has taught me to get things done ahead of time," Yuen said. "This year, my assignment, tutoring fifth-graders, has taught me to be more patient and understanding."
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Staff reaches beyond duties to help students
Less visible but more accessible adults often fulfill roles as friends and mentors
Mentors are not just teachers and administrators who interact regularly with students in a classroom setting or in school activities. They can include support staff who do not have academic dealings with students, but have frequent contact with them during the school day.
At Sacred Hearts Academy these adults include safety and maintenance employee Misha Roytman and high school receptionist Sherene Neves.
Although the school provides a supportive, nurturing environment with loving teachers, amiable counselors and competent administrators, other less visible, and sometimes more accessible, adults often fulfill the role of friend, mentor or informal confidant for students.
"Misha and Mrs. Neves are mentors who provide a nurturing environment for us; we can always find a warm welcome as we vent about school pressures," said senior Samantha Valle.
Roytman, who helps with on-campus security as well as maintenance, is the "No. 1 Handyman" who, in between replacing light fixtures and opening and locking buildings, finds time to listen and give students advice based on his experiences and the knowledge he acquired from raising his own children.
"He's always friendly, like an uncle, which is probably why many of us consider him to be a dependable, approachable person," said junior Ariel Takata-Vasquez. "Most importantly, Misha is a real gentleman. He's courteous and always treats us with utmost respect."
"Even if being kind to the students and helping them open their jammed lockers is not part of my job, I do it anyway because they are simply more than students to me. The girls are like my own daughters," Roytman said.
"Misha is sort of like a father figure at our school," said senior Rebecca Trowbridge. "He looks out for our well-being by warning us about traffic on campus or reminding us not to run in the rain-slick hallways. Even when he scolds us, we listen but do not feel threatened or become defensive."
Another approachable individual on campus is receptionist Sherene Neves.
"When my parents are hassling me about grades, friends are fighting over some guy and projects are being thrown left and right at me in school, sometimes all I need is someone to listen to me," senior Nicole Hahn said. "I find that Mrs. Neves always has a sympathetic ear for my problems."
"The students have a loving but always professional relationship with their teachers, counselors and administrators, but I am the one they tell about the fight they had with their mom or how they are stressing out because they can't find a prom date," said Neves.
Moreover, Neves recognizes that some students just want to "talk story."
Junior Christina Oba agreed. "We call her 'Mrs. Aloha' because she always cheerfully welcomes us into her office even if it's to grab a piece of candy from her candy jar. Even when she's piled with a ton of work, she graciously stops to help us."
"Their teachers and administrators are often very busy. As the school's secretary, I am available in the office every day. If they forget their lunch money, bus passes or even cuffs for the uniform, I can usually help them," Neves said.
"We know we are the support staff for teachers and administrators, but we also help meet students' needs. However, I am very cautious about giving advice. Still, I hopefully point them in the right direction because all of us want students to have a successful educational journey," Neves said.
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"Who is your female role model?"
"Rosa Parks, who stood up for her rights in a time when African Americans had none. Her courage inspires me to stand up for what I believe is right."
"Eleanor Roosevelt once said, 'Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do and damned if you don't.' It has guided me through the worst of times."
"Nancy Pelosi, the newly installed speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. As the first woman to ever hold this esteemed position, she is an amazing source of inspiration for all women who aspire to have their voices heard and become future leaders of the nation. She is also a good mother and grandmother."
"Judy Garland. I first saw her in 'Meet Me in St. Louis.' Her talent and presence have inspired me to pursue singing and acting ever since."
"Angelina Jolie, one of the few Hollywood stars who take action in helping people in Third World countries."
"Oprah Winfrey; she is upfront about everything. She doesn't care what people say about her, and she isn't afraid to speak her mind. She's also using her wealth to help those who really need it in Africa."