Rant & Rave

By Mahina Olayan

Tuesday, April 29, 1997

Don’t give in, don’t
give up; give your all

T WO-and-a-half years ago, when I was 14, I gave up on myself. I was a freshman at James Campbell High School when I rebelled against my parents and started cutting classes. I couldn't concentrate on learning because I wasn't getting along with my school mates .

After two months I transferred to Pearl City High. There I found myself surrounded by so many old friends and relatives that I was distracted and didn't study. I was kicked out of school and sent back to Campbell.

By the end of that year, I had earned only one credit toward graduation when I should have earned six. I was so far behind, I had no hope of graduating. To make matters worse, I got pregnant that summer. But my parents didn't give up on me, and because they didn't give up, I decided to try, try to graduate on time.

Luckily, my mom found out about Hale O Ulu, an alternative school run by Child & Family Service, serving 7th through 12th graders "at risk." Admissions are based on referrals by Family Court probation officers or school outreach counselors.

With so many students in need of such a program, my name was placed on a waiting list for four months before I was allowed admission as a sophomore in 1994.

WHAT'S great about Hale O Ulu is that you can work at your own pace, and the teachers and the staff are really encouraging and supportive. I kept saying, "I gotta earn my credits, I gotta earn my credits," and they helped me to accomplish my goal.

By January of this year, I had earned enough credits to be promoted to the 12th grade. I was able to move from freshman to senior status in those 2-1/2 years. I realize now that instead of goofing off I could have done all this earlier and still had my fun.

Now that I'm ready to graduate, I have plans to pursue my education and go to Leeward Community College part-time to learn computer technology and business management

Hale O Ulu not only helped me get back on track, but also got me involved with the School-to-Work Program. Last trimester, I worked for Gentry Homes, Ltd. I provided clerical and administrative assistance as requested at the Waipio Gentry Construction Department's Ewa field office. Although it was only a part-time temporary job, I enjoyed being a part of the program.

In the office, I gained a lot of computer experience typing memos and updating work schedules. I assisted with clerical tasks, learned to use office equipment and took inventory of office supplies. I confirmed deliveries with deadlines, and compiled and updated field-work orders. I appreciated the responsibility I was given. I also got paid for my work.

My supervisor Karen Elmore was patient and supportive. She was a great supervisor and easy to work with. I also enjoyed working with the rest of the office staff and the field workers.

BY the time I finished the School-to-Work Program last December, I learned many office skills that will benefit me in the near future. I learned a lot about taking responsibility and owning up to my mistakes. I learned about following directions and doing the best job I could in performing my assigned duties.

All of this was quite a growing-up experience for me.

I'm proud of my accomplishments and especially grateful to the staff at Hale O Ulu and Gentry Homes for helping me to accomplish them.

My son is now 2 years old and gives me incentive to work hard. For other teen moms or those who find themselves in trouble at school, don't give up on yourself no matter what.

There are ways to finish your education, and education is the most important thing in making a better life for yourself and for your kid.

Mahina Olayan, 17, is a senior at
Child & Family Service's Hale O Ulu School
and will graduate on May 21. For more information
about Hale O Ulu call 681-3121.

Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature
allowing those 12 to 22 to serve up fresh perspectives.
Speak up by fax at 523-8509; by answering machine at 525-8666;
snail mail at P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802;
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