RACHELLE LAMOSAO / WAIPAHU HIGH SCHOOL
Waipahu High School Key Club members Keisha Marcelino, left, and Carliza Elido work to tackle invasive mangrove in Pouhala Marsh, located along Waipahu Depot Road. The cleanup served as a joint community service project for the club and Waipahu's National Honor Society.
Coping with a crunch
Watch the school during passing period on any given day, and one of Waipahu High School's most well-known qualities becomes apparent: It is a very large school. Students cram into the hallways, scrambling from their classes to get into another packed classroom.
Waipahu High School
Normie Jean Galapon
94-1211 Farrington Hwy.
Waipahu, HI. 96797
Most students, however, don't have a problem with their classes being so full. "I don't mind that our classes are so large," said senior Michelle Cadiz. "It's just another way to meet new people."
With more than 2,000 students enrolled at the school and only 180 school days to meet all of them, knowing everyone by name can be a daunting challenge. Senior Taga Oloapu says, "I sometimes make it a point to make a new friend."
Some teachers, however, don't agree. Most would prefer smaller classrooms, as it generally makes it easier to teach the students. According to Vice Principal Kent Matsumura, the school can barely accommodate all the students and teachers. Even with the school's newly constructed building, there just isn't enough room to put all of the students.
"Floating teachers lessen the problem a little, but the reality is that there are just too many students here and not enough facilities," Matsumura said.
In spite of severe overpopulation, the best part of the school is still its students.
"We have a very diverse culture here, and most of the time the kids go out of their way to help each other out," said Matsumura.
Contrary to the widely held belief that Waipahu is teeming with delinquents, Matsumura begged to differ.
"It's 5 percent of the kids causing 95 percent of the trouble," he said. "We have good kids here, and it's unfortunate how the media portrays it otherwise."
The students, it seems, are also keen on helping the environment and the community. In October, the members of Waipahu's National Honor Society and newly established Key Club teamed up to help clean Pouhala Marsh.
"I contacted Matthew Lim (NHS chairperson) and asked if they'd like to join us. Some are members of both clubs," said Key Club President Grace Claudio. The two clubs, along with other active community organizations, worked through their Saturday mornings picking up trash and wading through the water to pull out invasive plants and tree seedlings. It is one of the last wetlands around Pearl Harbor, and home to endangered species, so protection of the marsh is essential.
"I enjoy being here," said Lim as he walked along the banks picking up trash. "It's a two-for-one. I get to get dirty and help out the community."
For the two organizations, it's just a start.
"We try to do five hours of service a month. We have a few things going on in November and the Angel Tree project in December," Claudio said.
According to Lim, the National Honor Society will also facilitate Bingo Night at the Waipahu Elderly Hall. Although the two clubs don't have any partnerships in the near future, Lim and Claudio hope to partner again.
other students are getting down and dirty in a totally different way. Members of the school's Ballroom Dance Club, established just a year ago, are trading in new-school moves for some old ones. It's much more common today to see teenagers moving to the beat of hip-hop songs or listening to the newest radio hit and not so much practicing dance steps their parents once boogied to, so the success of the club has been questionable from the beginning.
"I started this club in order to influence people, but at the same time, I didn't think anyone would show up," said club president Joshua Manzano.
He said the club had a better turnout than he'd hoped for. Within weeks, it grew large enough that it required a move from the classroom to the cafeteria. With Manzano as instructor, the students learn a variety of dances, including salsa, the waltz and samba.
"There are clubs in other schools dedicated to one type of dance, but as far as I know we're the only club that covers a list of dances," said Manzano.
Whether it's in the hallways, at various community service sites or on the dance floor, the students of Waipahu High School are keeping themselves busy. Despite widely held beliefs, the students are directing their energies towards positive activities that benefit rather than harm the community. Sadly, amid the bad rep the school has built up through the media in the past, it's difficult for many outsiders to see that.
Mural tradition has murky origin
Classes have shown school spirit through artwork for decades
A timeless mystery haunts Waipahu High School's campus. Since the high school's relocation from what is now the intermediate school campus, this enigma lingers on the frayed pages of Waipahu's rich history. Slowly it has intertwined with the school's culture; today, no one questions its origins.
No one can recall the exact date when the school began the tradition of painting class murals, but many members of the faculty remember the positive energy it inspired.
Veteran faculty members theorize that the first mural painting originated between the 1960s and '70s, when the high school moved to its current location.
"With the school's relocation, students thought of beginning with a fresh start," said adult education coordinator Stanley Tsukamoto, who attributes this idea to the painting of murals.
Others, however, have their own speculations as to the tradition's origins.
"The murals were a product of Arthurs," said student activity coordinator Joy Takara. The Arthur Awards, or simply Arthurs, as Waipahu's faculty and students refer to it, began as a pep rally of sorts on the day of the school's homecoming game. Students would gather in front of the quad stage and energize themselves by singing original songs and shouting words of encouragement. Gradually, however, the Arthur Awards became a contest between classes as they compete in various field activities during homecoming week, culminating in a massive cheer-off.
COURTESY PHOTO / CANE TASSEL
"(Murals) increase students' school spirit," Takara said.
The murals themselves began as an additional means to boost student morale and school pride in the wake of homecoming.
"At first, only student government had their own mural, and then each grade class started having one," said community school clerk Susanne Mishima. Eventually, this tacit understanding among the class councils and student government became a sealed agreement by which subsequent generations abided. Both groups realized the potential these murals had to perpetuate the Marauder spirit. This moment validated mural painting as a long-kept tradition that promotes Waipahu's individuality.
"For the students, it became second nature for them to have a mural," said Tsukamoto.
Each class council usually asks students within their respective grade levels to paint the murals.
"The murals reflected an era of history, both the world's and Waipahu's," said Tsukamoto.
After deciding on a design, usually through a classwide vote, council members collaborate with the student artists on the colors and other details. They paint the murals during the summer and finish before the school year's beginning.
"Waipahu has many artists and the murals are a great way to exhibit their talents," said Tsukamoto.
Although they have the option of hiring a professional artist, class councils usually decide against it, bestowing the honor to their peers. "It's more meaningful if (the murals) are done by students," said junior class adviser Ednah Folk. "This way, other students will recognize the work as one of their classmate's."
"What would you invent?"
"A biodome, where people can go to relax."
"An easy button."
"A machine that helps our brain learn with the snap of a finger."
"Something that would bring extinct animals back."
"A small vacuum that can extract water to make things dry faster."
"Clothes recycling machine: changes dirty clothes to new, trendy ones."
"Informational pills: Eat one and have instant knowledge."
"A food multiplier: world hunger solved!"
CANE TASSEL STAFF