KA LEO STAFF / WAIAKEA HIGH SCHOOL
Waiakea students boogie down at the Welcome Back Assembly, concluding the event with the traditional Electric Slide.
Year of reflection, action
Waiakea High celebrates its 30th anniversary with a luncheon featuring alumni
By Stacey Torigoe and Ka Leo staff
Waiakea High School
It's been a year of turbulent change, thrilling excitement and exhilarating experiences at Waiakea High.
Waiakea High School
Ka Leo O Ke Koa
155 W. Kawili St.
Hilo, HI 96720
Royal blue and white
The school year kicked off with Homecoming, the classic high school festivity marking the end of the football season, and a celebration of Waiakea High's 30th anniversary. A gala luncheon featuring alumni and past faculty guests, a slide show of Waiakea memories and original music performed by sophomore Jonathan Shimasaki epitomized Homecoming Week. Events like "Magical Makeover Day," where teachers got a "magical makeover" by their students with tinfoil, T-shirts and neon-colored paper, was also a huge hit -- nose rings and flowery sunglasses abounded.
The annual Club Day, featuring informational booths hosted by Waiakea clubs including Club Dektol (photography), Pacific and Leo Club, was a hit with students and teachers alike.
During his statewide tour of high schools, Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona emphasized the need for students at Waiakea to implement the aloha spirit in everyday living. Former Waiakea student Young Tarring, who made poor choices with drugs in the past, warned high schoolers about how such choices can affect not only them, but family members and dependents.
"I knew I had to change. I had a 3-year-old girl," Tarring said. "By doing drugs, I put her second. Some of you don't have a mom or dad; you know how it is."
Recovering from the fire in the administration building last March, students and teachers have been challenged to cope both academically and personally. Classes have been shifted, relocated and combined to keep things running smoothly. For example, the main office moved to the computer lab, which moved to the NJROTC room, which moved to an empty portable classroom.
LYNN NAKAGAWA / WAIAKEA HIGH SCHOOL
Sophomore class adviser Toni Sakai-Kawada, center, receives a "Magical Makeover" from sophomores Ryan Sagawa, left, Francis Sakai-Kawada, Daniel Okubo and Kasie Tanabe during Homecoming Week 2006 festivities.
The Hawaii State Assessment Writing test for ninth- and 11th-graders took place in November. Test results from the previous year were also announced. Waiakea students in a variety of socioeconomic, academic and ethnic categories failed to meet standards, making this year's testing critical in determining whether the school will be forced to restructure as part of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Students seeking a sweet treat found refreshment at the famed shave ice concession at the school. Proceeds from sales benefit the special-education and award-winning robotics programs at Waiakea High.
To the dismay of all, longtime Principal Patricia Nekoba announced her retirement at the annual Winter Program. "I know I will miss it all -- you, this place, this time," Nekoba said to students in her farewell address. "(But) if you had told me in high school that I would become a high school principal, I would have fallen over in disbelief."
New principal Kelcy Koga, whose dream job has been administrating at Waiakea, arrived in January.
"I'm just getting accustomed to the day-to-day operations, trying to get used to things," Koga said.
As the 2007 WHS Variety Show approaches, committee members are scrambling to put together the elaborate production, which doubles as a fundraiser for student government. The event, "Journey Into a Dream," will feature moral lessons embedded into class performances as well and showcase some of Waiakea's most brilliant creative talent in music, art and fashion.
At 30 years of age, still-young Waiakea High School has turned a corner in history and encountered change after change. Students, staff and parents, however, continue not to be "borne back into the past," as F. Scott Fitzgerald said in his masterpiece (and standard 11th-grade reading) "The Great Gatsby," but looking toward the future. From all the news-writing staff at Ka Leo, we wish you well!
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Student Development Day lets learners pick their own path
At what other school can you spend a third of your day in a class of your choosing, be it SAT math or tips for aspiring actors?
On Jan. 24, WHS students participated in Waiakea's first Student Development Day. The day allowed students to explore fields of interest and hear motivational speakers.
The event was made possible by members of the School Community Council, who worked in conjunction with sophomore class adviser Toni Sakai-Kawada.
Student Development Day was the brainchild of senior Michael Shioji and junior Katie Kouchi, both SCC student representatives.
"We called well-known people in the community for the (elective) classes and we were fortunate to get Scott Greenberg (a motivational speaker from California) to come," Kouchi said.
Other students who played integral roles in the activity were sophomores Francis Sakai-Kawada and Cindy Nakagawa, and junior Robyn Taniguchi.
The day was divided into three periods, in which students attended one academy-recommended class (or information about the academies for underclassmen who had yet to decide on one), a career or life-planning session of their choosing and an assembly with Greenberg.
Toni Sakai-Kawata gave credit to the five members of the SCC for putting on Student Development Day this year, particularly Shoji and Kouchi.
"They put in lots of time and worked very hard (during the days before the activity)," Sakai-Kawata said. "They were relieved when the day actually came and they could watch their work unfold."
As for next year, the committee will need to revise and improvise. "The student feedback was mixed," Sakai-Kawata said. "Some students were disappointed that they didn't get their first choice. I'd say that communication between students and coordinators is an area that needs improvement for next year."
All in all, the Student Development Day was a success. Katie Kouchi also mentioned that a year-round college guidance center is another potential student resource the SCC plans to unveil in the near future. Both activities are meant to remind students of the unlimited possibilities of life after high school.
Students had a variety of classes to choose from, taught by Waiakea teachers, professors from UH-Hilo and other experts, volunteers and community contributors.
Some classes focused on SAT preparation, college and career planning, creative writing and writing resumes. The day also featured classes that taught skills the students could use in real life. Classes like Latin dancing gave students a fun glance into other cultures.
According to Carissa Pajo, a freshman, the most enjoyable activity was during last period, listening to Greenberg's motivational lecture.
Greenberg kept a captive audience discussing serious topics, like decision making and overcoming obstacles with references to his own, mostly hilarious, personal experiences.
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"What has been your favorite school activity?"
"Student Development Day, because the motivational speaker was really good."
"Variety show, because it's the best!"
"Homecoming week, because everyone is spirited and it's always exciting."
"(Junior varsity) boys volleyball, because it's really fun to play."
"I like being in a club because I get to meet new people and help the community."