COURTESY PHOTO / THE MESSENGER
Members of the drama program include junior Joseph Bradner, left, senior Wallace Voeks, teacher Steven Kam, senior Jasmin Weber, junior Anthony Feliciano, senior Janice Tabangcura and senior Andrew Yeager.
Play’s the thing for teacher
Steven Kam, English and drama teacher, has read all 37 plays written by William Shakespeare. Somewhat of a fanatic, Kam has collected virtually everything about Shakespeare, including dolls, books and mementos. His love of the greatest playwright in history has been the core of the renewal of the Pearl City High School drama program.
Pearl City High School
2100 Hookiekie St.
Pearl City, HI 96782
Purple and white
Before Kam took over the drama program in 2002, Pearl City had not produced a full-length play since the '80s. However, since Kam began his tenure, he has produced five full-length plays and is ready to launch his sixth production. Of course, following his love of Shakespeare, he has made it a practice to produce a Shakespearean play every other year.
In his first year as drama program director, he produced "Romeo and Juliet," inspiring students who had never read Shakespeare before to memorize all the lines of the five-act play. "The Princess Bride," the 2004 production, included singing and dance numbers and exciting fight scenes. In 2005 he produced "The Scottish Play," a modernized parody of "Macbeth."
The following year, the students produced "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead."
Last year, audiences were delighted with the production of "The Chronicles of Narnia."
Next May, Kam will be ready to present "A Midsummer Night's Dream." But certainly, performing in the plays is quite a task in itself. Just ask senior Jasmin Weber, who will play Helena.
"It was surreal when I learned that I was going to be playing Helena this year," Weber said. "She is my favorite character in the play, and I can relate very easily to her. She's also a fun character to play because she's really funny, and her personality is very similar to my own."
Senior Christian Tomas, who played Prince Caspian in "Narnia," will be playing Bottom the Weaver this year. "Because I'm playing a more difficult, more complex character this year, I want to harness my skill. I'll be able to try new things, especially with this character. This character is more fun, especially since his head gets turned into a donkey's and the Fairy Queen falls in love with him. I know I'm going to enjoy playing the role," he laughed.
Tomas is appreciative of Kam. "This program has just created so many opportunities and opened a lot of doors for me. It's helped me make new friends and meet people I otherwise wouldn't know. It's given me an outlet to express myself, and it's definitely made me more confident."
As if putting on full-length plays isn't enough, Kam coordinated a trip for his drama students to visit England and France last summer to see plays and the actual sites Shakespeare referred to in his body of work. Apparently, he is creating a new generation of Shakespearean fanatics.
COURTESY PHOTO / THE MESSENGER
Lauren Saito, left, Andrew Yamada and Michelle Ota compare their "best work" choices as part of Pearl City High's new Personal Transition Plan program.
Core class guides students in thinking about futures
The Personal Transition Plan, or PTP program, is a new addition to the curriculum of Pearl City High School. The program was designed to help all students with college and career planning after graduation from high school.
Patrick Riehle, PTP program adviser and mathematics teacher at Pearl City High School, is the program's coordinator.
Riehle explained, "The program is to help every student successfully transition from high school into the real world. Through the program, students will figure out who they are, what they're good at and where they should go with their skills."
Through the mandates of the Department of Education, the program is now mandatory for PCHS students starting from the class of 2010. Current freshmen and sophomores work for one-half credit toward graduation, while juniors and seniors don't.
Freshmen to seniors are given an extra class that meets about once a week.
Students are randomly assigned to teachers who act as mentors for a class of about 20 students. The PTP teacher works with students to investigate possible career pathways and discuss college and career planning.
Riehle acknowledged that this plan might be "a little late" for seniors. But he added, "It's still important for the seniors. We as a school don't do enough to prepare our students for the future."
Reaction to this new program has been mixed. Most teachers and students feel it is a much- needed addition to the curriculum, but some are confused about the intent of the program.
Senior Michelle Ota, who is generally in favor of the course, said, "I thought it would be more focused on college, like how to apply (for college) and choose majors."
Upperclassmen seem to be appreciative of the attempt to prepare for life after graduation. Junior Andrew Yamada stated, "I like the PTP program because it helps prepare for college, but lots of the material is a repeat from guidance. Also, it would be better if the juniors and seniors got the half-credit for it, too."
Sophomore Jasmyne Tanabe believes the program is fine just the way it has been presented.
"I'm learning new things that can help me, and I wouldn't change anything about it," Tanabe said.
With any new program, there will be detractors, supporters and room for improvement, but the staff and students are committed to see this program succeed.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and how would you change the world using it in a positive way?
"The ability to control the elements, so I can change the weather at any given time."
"To read people's minds to help investigate crime."
"The ability to move things with your mind, keep things from falling and breaking."
"I would want to make food appear in midair to stop world hunger."
"The ability to cure sick people and animals."
"The power to make everyone happy."
"The power to make people smarter so there won't be any stupid people in the world."
"The power to take the pain away from others and bring it upon myself, because I'd rather suffer than watch others suffer."