COLLAGE COURTESY OF HILO HIGH SCHOOL
Pages of Memories
A look through past yearbooks shows how club activities have evolved
After celebrating Hilo High's centennial last year, many alumni and some students have waxed nostalgic, wondering what it was like "in the old days." What did students do when they weren't in class? What extracurricular activities and clubs did they join?
Hilo High School
556 Waianuenue Ave.
Hilo, HI 96720
Few written records remain, but by far the best is the collection of yearbooks now housed under lock and key in the Hilo High Library. There, one will find the first yearbook ever published, the Blue and Gold 1912-1913, during the last year that Hilo High School had a sixth grade. There were seven faculty members, including Principal Prescott Jernegan, and two clubs for a student body of 171: The Lei O Mamo Literary Society, with 26 students, celebrated Lincoln Day with "Lincoln Stories," and the Lei O Hawaii Literary Society, with "half the students of the school," conducted programs with recitations and songs.
The Hilo High School Lunch Club debuted the following school year with 20 girls in two sections. Each section had a manager and a bookkeeper.
"The club was furnished with an oil stove, a few pots and pans, dishes, a safe, refrigerator, two tables, and ... we made potato salad, fruit salad, beef stew, chicken curry, bread pudding, etc.," with no instruction, a blurb noted. "The club lasted until the 5th of January when the Domestic Science Course was added to the school curriculum."
In the same year, the Bloomer Girls had "taken up Indian clubs and folk dancing besides their basketball." There was only one public game at the Armory Hall that year, and "an exhibition of Indian club swinging and folk dancing was given at the Parents' Reception."
The 1916 Blue and Gold lists no clubs at all, but by 1922 the Student Body Council was organized "so that Hilo High School may build up its future success upon it" and "that there be a closer co-operation between school and actual life." Students could choose in 1922 from the Pre-College Club, the Lanakila Debating Club, the Open Forum, Dramatics, Hilo HI-Y Club, the Chinese Students' Club of HHS and the Kilauea Boy Scouts.
The number of students increased as the town of Hilo grew, and more clubs joined the roster. Yearbooks from various years list a random sampling: 1932 Le Cercle Francais, 1932 Orchestra, 1934 Bachelor Club, 1941 Archery Club, 1941 Allied Youth.
The 1949 book lists a Junior Police Organization, Junior Red Cross, Radio Club, Future Nurses, Future Teachers, Future Homemakers, Future Farmers of America, Sub-Debs, Forensic Society, Shutterbugs, Spanish Club, Student Playhouse, Thespian Troupe 707, Tennis Club and Tri-HI-Y.
Thirty years later, in 1980-81, many clubs resembled those still on campus today, including the Math League, Interact, DECA, Hawaiian Club, Key Club, Leo Club, Science Club, Chess Club and National Honor Society. Others have morphed or are now defunct: Kewanettes, Canoe Club, Credit Union, Pep Squad, Youth Against Cancer, Fil-Am Club, Auto Club.
As the number of credits needed to graduate increased to 24 from 18 over the past 30 years, students and teachers have become busier than before. It is difficult to find enthusiastic advisers for campus clubs and activities. In the era of No Child Left Behind, some question the necessity of nonacademic activities such as dances.
Today, there are fewer all-school activities, and the number of clubs is on the downswing -- and, according to many students and faculty, so is the once-robust Hilo High school spirit. Next year, seven courses per year will be required instead of only six, and one wonders what will happen to extracurricular clubs.
According to Principal Robert Dircks, "Over the years there have been many changes, and we are in a new century with new attitudes and new mind-sets. We must rise to the new times and acknowledge student differences and interests. If not, we would be failing to meet the challenges facing our graduates. We can't stifle them anymore."
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COURTESY OF HILO HIGH SCHOOL
Hilo High English teacher Diane Li, left, and junior Toby Horner stand in the school's Poetry Garden, which is filled with colored rocks painted with words on them.
Poetry rocks, garden of verse shows students
With paint and creative language, lessons of literature are written in stone
After five years a teacher's idea has become reality: a "poetry garden" with words painted on rocks.
"My classroom's door hook was mis-installed so I started painting rocks as doorstops, but they kept getting stolen," explained Hilo English teacher Diane Li. "Then I began painting words on them, and one day the idea clicked."
After getting permission from Hilo Principal Robert Dircks, Li purchased a ton of rocks for $38 and, with the help of a custodian, transported them from the quarry to the drainage "courtyard" of BB Building. She then bought paint in yellow, red, blue, black, white, silver, gold and copper. Then she asked her students to paint the rocks and put one word on each rock.
At first the students thought Li was crazy. But once the students saw the poetry garden coming to life, they began to understand it more.
"I was amazed at how much thought students gave to selecting their favorite words," Li said.
She was also quite surprised to find out that many students did not know how to combine basic colors to make other colors, such as mixing red and yellow to create orange.
Li said her favorite rock was one that was painted as a running shoe, with the word "Excellence."
The Hilo High Poetry Garden debuted last year during the school's centennial anniversary celebration. Li said the garden would not have been possible without the help of Toni Marzi, who developed and manages the Hilo High Web site, and Toby Horner, a Hilo High junior. Many alumni were able to paint their own rocks and add them to the garden. Jennifer Perry, another teacher at Hilo High, donated orchids for the garden's special debut.
To raise funds for the paint and rocks, small rocks were painted blue and gold as centennial paperweights. The most popular pieces were the small chunks of concrete from the sidewalks and pieces of buildings, which alumni wanted as souvenirs.
Li's news-writing class still collects HI-5 containers from around the campus to help pay for the paint.
Li's senior English classes make poems with the word rocks. They started out making circle poems and sayings. Li's favorite is by two seniors: "Seek the beauty in a dream."
Cassidy Moniz, a student in Li's English and news-writing classes, said that making poems was "fun and a lot better than doing class work." Her group's circle poem was "Journey Fun Summer Love Memories Soul Mate Smile Laugh."
Many students who are not in Li's classes also make poems with the rocks during recess periods. These poems tend to be less serious and more spontaneous and funny. One that was added to the list of poems created thus far, hanging on the door of Li's classroom, is "A Dream Of All The Crazy Hot Sweet Juicy Beef."
After each of the monthly poetry "competitions," the students paint new rocks to keep the garden updated with more words for the next competition.
"This is a very good exercise for the students because it makes them focus on word choice, which is essential for good writing," said Li, "and the students really seemed to like it, which is why I want to share the idea with others."
Students and alumni return from time to time to see if their rocks are still in the garden. The rocks are durable, and Li hopes this will be a lasting tradition at Hilo High.
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"If you could form any kind of club, what would it do?"
"A fashion and modeling club, because I know a lot of people interested in fashion/modeling. In this club, students will learn about modeling, how to dress and walk, how to design clothes, different types of style and the basic job of a fashion designer."
"I would form a music club. In this club we could learn the history of all sorts of music. We could learn how to sing, dance and even make music, and even learn to enjoy all sorts of music. We do have band, but some people might be interested in other types of music."
"It would be to educate anyone who's interested in learning more about children and the entire mothering/fathering process. It would be like a child-training course. Because of the numerous amounts of teenage pregnancies, this club could be an informant to others."
"If I could make a new club, I would make a dance club because dancing is part of an art and a lot of people in this school love to dance, so it would be a good opportunity to let the kids have fun and also keep them busy to stay out of trouble."
Compiled by Regina Caoagdan and Cassi Moniz
Hilo High School