KA LEO 'O NANAKULI STAFF
Nanakuli High and Intermediate School senior Kelekolio Roberts testifies on the landfill issue at Mayor Mufi Hannemann's community meeting on Aug. 28.
Views on landfill pour in
Emotions were high in the Nanaikapono Elementary School cafeteria when Mayor Mufi Hannemann came to the Nanakuli community to address the sensitive issue of the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill's future.
Nanakuli High School
Ka Leo 'O Nanakuli
89-980 Nanakuli Ave.
Waianae, HI 96792
On Aug. 28, Hannemann held a town meeting for the Nanakuli Community at Nanaikapono Elementary School and shared his proposal to keep the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill open until 2011 when the administration would update the Solid Waste Integrated Management Plan to be adopted in 2013.
The reason for this delay in the moving of the landfill is due to a five-year plan. The landfill cannot be moved without five years of planning. These years would include convening a site selection committee, planning and engineering a new site, conducting an environmental impact statement, purchase of the land and getting final site design, zoning and permitting approval.
If the mayor chose to close the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill, the only other infrastructure in place to accept municipal waste is the PVT Land Co. Landfill in Nanakuli. However, putting the landfill site in PVT would increase commercial traffic and noise in the residential area.
The gulch will remain in Nanakuli because, as of now, there is nowhere else for all of the trash to go.
"Of the sites that have been evaluated, the most attractive sites according to the studies have shown that it (a landfill) is going to come closer to this Nanakuli community, and I don't want that to happen," Hannemann said.
The mayor's administration's priorities are to improve the operations at the landfill such as scaling the waste and treatment. They want to increase diversion to the landfill by usage of new technologies and recycling programs already in use on the island. The mayor also wants to implement a Community Benefits Package.
Last year the City and County of Honolulu provided $1 million for nonprofit organizations and $1 million to park improvements, and this year the package will be increased to $2.5 million. These improvements are called the Community Benefits Package.
After his presentation on the landfill issue and the Community Benefits Package, Hannemann asked the community what it thought about the plans that were coming into fruition. The community had a lot to say about why the landfill should not be in Nanakuli, and the mayor countered them with his reasons for keeping it here.
"Why do we keep talking about dumps?" asked Georgette Meyers. "What happened to this new technology that we have where we can just burn it and sell it to Hawaiian Electric and make energy?"
Hannemann thought the meeting was successful because he had a chance to talk with the community about these issues in person, which he said was the goal of the meeting.
"I had an opportunity to hear their concerns. I think the meeting went well. People were able to tell me how they feel, and again, no one wants a landfill in their back yard and it is patently unfair for all of Oahu to feel that it should always be on the Waianae Coast," Hannemann said.
"If you disagree with our landfill decision, then look at the big picture in terms of how we have treated the Waianae Coast and how we will continue to treat the Waianae Coast," he said.
Follow-up meetings were held at the Nanakuli High and Intermediate School cafeteria on Sept. 27, and the First Baptist Church on Sept. 20 and Oct. 4, with representatives from the city. At these meetings, students of NHIS testified about the landfill and shared their feelings on topics such as expanding the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill and the PVT Landfill.
"One day, I just don't want to get out of my house and see an atrocious mountain of garbage in our back yard," said Vernie Agustin, a senior, at the Sept. 20 meeting.
At all three meetings, students raised questions about the benefits for the community of having a landfill, birth defects from landfills, and about landfill's methane gas emissions.
Neighborhood board member Albert Silva said, "I am left without words to say how I admire the student members of the audience that spoke here tonight."
At that meeting, 10 out of 11 Waianae Neighborhood Board members voted against supporting the city's continued use and expansion of the Waimanalo Landfill Gulch and overall use of 15 years.
Many of the questions and speeches given at the meetings were taken into consideration, but one of the points that the community supports is a push for the advancement of refuse technology.
Kamaki Kanahele, president of the Hawaiian Homeland Council, supports the movement into technology.
"I would like to ask if you would consider seeking at the top of your list, alternative technologies," Kanahele said to Hannemann at the first community meeting.
Some in the community expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome. Rep. Karen Awana (R, Nanakuli) said, "It's an excellent start. We may not have received the types of outcomes that we wanted, and we may not have heard what we wanted to. However, this gave our community an excellent opportunity to hear what the mayor's administration's position is on Waimanalo Gulch."
Teach for America helps put educators in the classroom
Recruiting and retaining teachers at Nanakuli High and Intermediate School (NHIS) has always been a challenge. However, since last school year, the Teach for America (TFA) program has helped to fill many teacher positions with young, energetic teachers.
U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono is an immense supporter of the Teach for America program. On Aug. 28, Hirono visited NHIS to meet with the TFA teachers.
The TFA program gives an opportunity to teach to candidates who have degrees in subjects other than teaching "but want to give back to the community," according to Hirono.
It is a teacher recruitment program that seeks to attract college graduates to the classrooms. The teachers hold a contract with the program for two years and have the option of remaining in education or pursuing other goals.
The TFA program has been in existence for two years. There are currently eight TFA teachers placed at NHIS.
"This experience gives them an opportunity to come into a school setting and teach," said Hirono. "They come maybe with a whole different kind of background than people who normally go into teaching, and I think that kind of diversity is really important for people who are teaching young people."
While on her visit, Hirono met several of the participating teachers. She had an opportunity to sit in on Scott Ma- tayoshi's class. Matayoshi is an intermediate science teacher at NHIS whose plan after this school year is to enter law school.
During this class, Hirono witnessed students engaged in a lesson where their task was to solve a fictitious murder case using critical thinking and problem-solving skills with presented evidence and a murder scene, much like a "CSI" environment.
Hirono shared that she also found herself taking an interest in the students' unusual lesson.
Senior English teacher and TFA participant Jennifer Colwell said, "The people who are in the program, even if they don't plan on staying in the program for more than two years, tend to bring a lot of enthusiasm even if they don't bring a lot of experience. A lot of times their enthusiasm and commitment makes up for their lack of teaching experience."
Colwell originally obtained a degree in human development and social relations, and classical studies.
"The fact that I was able to receive all these educational blessings made me realize that I want to do the same for other students who also come from struggling backgrounds," said Spanish teacher Brian Clark, whom students call "Senor Si."
Clark initially studied international studies with an emphasis on politics and minored in Spanish and French. "I ended up here in Nanakuli because I wanted to commit myself at least for two years to giving back because of the blessings I received as a child."
"He's fun, nice and positive all the time. He's interactive and talks with the students a lot, and he's really energized," said senior Honey Swope. "Senor Si really believes in all his students, and he's there for them and helps them whenever they need help. I'm glad that the TFA program brought him here to our school."
Hirono hopes that through this experience, more candidates of the program are encouraged to stay in education. One of them is Jonathan Sager, a math teacher whose future plans are mapped out at NHIS.
"I hope that it (the TFA program) will continue to receive congressional support. I hope that we will continue to fund TFA so that more people can have that experience of teaching," said Hirono.
Hirono was asked about teacher retention at NHIS and what could be done to retain the TFA teachers in education for the benefit of the students' learning.
Hirono shared that a number of things must be done to encourage "the best and the brightest to go into the teaching profession, and one way is to pay them more." Hirono is also working on a bill that will support people who go into early education to address the teacher shortage in Hawaii.
"If you could be any cartoon character, who would you be and why?"
"I would be Double D from 'Ed, Edd, N' Eddy' because we have a lot of things in common, one of them being we can't talk to girls."
"I would be Patrick from 'SpongeBob SquarePants' because he's really smart, you just don't know it."
"I would be Roger Rabbit because I'm silly and funny just like he is."
"I would be Tinkerbell because she can fly."
"Goofy because we're both klutzes but everything works out in the end."
"I would be Spider-Man because he protects the people he loves."
"Snoopy because Snoopy is the coolest dog ever."