LEIA LENDIO / WAIALUAN
Members of Waialua Team 359 who took part in the 2007 New Jersey Regional Robotics Competition in March include team captain Cody Smith, left, team leader Glenn Lee and members Adam Butac and Kaleo Lopez.
Waialua school cranks up the robotics
Dedication and teamwork have brought many awards
Kahuku, Leleihua and Mililani might have champion sports teams, but there is something at Waialua High and Intermediate School that few other schools in the state have: a nationally recognized and well-funded robotics program.
Waialua High School
67-160 Farrington Highway
Scarlet and gray
Since its inception in 1999, Waialua Robotics Team 359 has matured into an admirable program. In March the team placed second at the national competition in New Jersey, the most recent accomplishment in a long line of successes. The team has won an award in every competition in which it has participated, a feat many teams around the country have not accomplished.
Made up of 20 students and 15 mentors, the team and program have brought an immense feeling of pride to this school. The team is led by coordinator Glenn Lee, who took over the program in 2003. Through his leadership, the team has become efficient, operating as a system of separate entities working together to complete the many components involved in a robotics competition. These different sublevels of the team must be able to operate autonomously.
This self-reliant and disciplined ideology of the program is reflected by the team motto: "Responsibility, commitment and teamwork." While committing to such a time-consuming program can be difficult for students, each year a dedicated group eagerly returns to join the team. When asked what the best part of robotics was, junior Adam Butac, a programmer on the team, answered simply, "Duh! Robots!"
Each year on a set date, teams nationwide are given specific tasks their robots must be able to accomplish. Teams have only six weeks from that day to build their robot for the competition. Although the robot is the main event, many other assignments must be completed. Team members must prepare an essay, a display, supporting documents and a video. Duties are divided into construction and documentation, and students are assigned to each group based on their interests.
Team members are given the freedom to complete their duties on their own time with the expectation that they will finish by their deadlines. This helps students become self-directed learners and prepares them for college.
Putting different individuals into the isolated environment that robotics requires has facilitated sharing, learning and the creation of unique friendships. Team captain and junior Cody Smith says, "Everyone on the team has their different ways of doing things, and we all work together to build the robot. Without teamwork we wouldn't be able to do that." Robotics students are assigned computers and other equipment that only they are permitted to use. They can use these resources for other classes as well, which helps students maintain their grades and accomplish more during the school day.
The Waialua robotics program is extremely well funded through donations from the community and through grants. Their most generous donators are R.M. Towill Foundation, McInerney Foundation, Bank of Hawaii Trustee and Castle & Cooke Inc./Dole Plantation. Despite the school's small size, the program has managed to obtain funds of approximately $65,000 to $100,000 each year.
Team 359 competes under the aegis of the national organization For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), whose mission is to "create a world" where students strive to be "science and technology heroes." The team aims to give back to the robotics program by spreading the ideals of FIRST to other schools.
The team mentors rookie teams by providing tours of the school's facilities, assistance in obtaining grants and demonstrations of the team's robot. The team hopes to provide an example for other schools to follow so that they too can benefit from the advantages of the robotics program.
Robotics is a vigorous program that demands the best of its participants and promotes future careers in science and engineering for students. With a regional competition taking place in Hawaii for the first time this March, many more island teams are becoming involved in this worthwhile program.
Students harmonious in their differences
We have seen it everywhere. From movies to books to real life, there's no denying that cliques are everywhere. It almost seems impossible to get away from their influence. However, for those who are seeking a zone where cliques are not the predominant force of high school life, here is some refreshing news: There is a place that exists where the division of students into cliques is not allowed because the students themselves do not allow it.
The moment you step onto the Waialua High and Intermediate School campus, you will recognize that while students might have the look of the stereotypical labels -- the jocks, nerds, rockers, hippies, surfers -- there is no division between the various types of people. If these groups can even be considered "cliques," then students are all members of numerous cliques. We have the flexibility to take a stand as individuals and establish our own identities, but we are also allowed to then mix with other groups.
COURTESY GAIL WHITE
Showing off the diversity of activities available at Waialua High School are, clockwise from left, Keoni Quiddaoen, Kiley Iona, Tiffani Obayashi, Deezerie Pacris, Josiah Castellanos, Miki'ala Leslie, Aja Lopes, Sara White, Kala Tye and Laurianne Manera.
The root of this feature at Waialua is what makes us unique -- we are country. Many of the students have grown up together. Unlike other high schools where students are transient, Waialua students are not. We are fed by two local elementary schools, and most of us have known each other from preschool and elementary school. Our families have been Bulldogs for generations, and we grew up participating together in community activities such as sports and Summer Fun.
Life in the country is different from living in town; much of our economy is agricultural, and families pitch in together. We share successes, joys and tragedies together as a community. Our school population is small, 632 students ranging from grades seven through twelve. Our siblings, cousins and neighbors all attend school with us. Other schools might call themselves an ohana, but here at Waialua our ohana is a real, palpable and frequently literal one.
Unlike other schools, where cliques are a continual source of conflicts and problems, at Waialua students are free to discover who they are. The shy girl can be a cheerleader; the geek can be an athlete; the taciturn boy can be a student body officer. Waialua High and Intermediate School cultures confident and diverse students, making us truly a rare jewel hidden on the North Shore.
"If you could create a holiday, what would it be and why?"
"Animal Day because I love animals. On this national holiday, everyone would get a free animal from the pound, and also there would be no school."
"Football Day, when there's no school and everyone has to play football."
"Pink Day. Everybody and everything is pink: clothes, food, water, and all the boys must dye their clothes pink."
"Video Game Day. Everyone has to play; there are free laptops, unlimited games, monster drinks, chips; and there is no school or work."
"A Shop 'Til You Drop Day. Everyone is required to go shopping and not go to work or school."
"I would make a Beach Day where everyone goes to the beach to have fun and swim, surf, dive, ride Jet Skis and barbecue."