School helps new students fit in


POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2008

Being a military dependent means moving. A lot. For some students, they can see 17 tours of duty before graduating from high school.





Moanalua High School

Na Hoku O Moanalua


Faculty adviser
Liane Voss


Reece Farinas and Michelle Ward


2825 Ala Ilima St.
Honolulu, HI 96818






Darrel Galera





“;It's horrible,”; sophomore Brittney Michaud said. “;You leave your entire life behind, your friends, your house, your school.”; Luckily, the majority of Moanalua's population of 2,000 plus has not had to experience this. For about 400 of them, however, those students whose families are in the military, moving has become almost second nature to them. This doesn't necessarily make it any easier.

“;You're pulled up by the roots and expected to adapt to so many different cultures in such a short amount of time,”; Michaud said. She's moved four times, twice here to Hawaii, but she still had to adjust to the ways of Moanalua High School. This was not as simple as we might like to think.

“;I didn't really feel all that welcomed,”; Michaud said of those first few weeks. “;Here it seems like everyone is sort of already in their own groups and not really willing to open up very much.”;

Others disagree, such as senior Beau Gaillard, who moved to Hawaii two months ago from Long Beach, Calif.

“;Everyone is super friendly and laid-back,”; he said, which made him slip easily into school, despite it being his last year.

For those like Michaud who had a harder time, Moanalua has made the decision to create a transition center, similar to the ones at Radford, Leilehua, and Kalaheo, high schools that have a military population of at least 20 percent.

“;The idea is, once the grant (we applied for is) approved, (we would) go around to other schools, find out what works and what doesn't, and implement that here,”; Master Sgt. Ken Schubert, one of Mo- analua's two JROTC leaders, said. “;We've already been to Radford's and theirs is really nice.”;

With military students making up a large part of Radford's student population, the school set aside one classroom for a transition center. It has even gone so far as to have student-taught classes on local culture.

“;That's kind of like the ultimate goal, the nationwide standard. But I don't think we need to be as in-depth as they are,”; Schubert said. “;I think just having someone there to meet them and give them these services will make the transition into Moanalua easier.”;

Unfortunately, Moanalua doesn't have the luxury of an empty classroom. Instead a $100,000 grant has been applied for and, if approved, would be used to build a pavilion in the empty area by P3—the JROTC portable.

“;We have more classes and teachers than classrooms. So basically they don't have a place to hang out. That's why we need the pavilion. That's our biggest problem getting a transition center: We need a location.”;

A small section of the JROTC portable will also become a part of the transition center as a station for student sponsors, teachers and parents to keep track of the new students using the center.

Upon arrival a new student will go to the registrar's office, where they will first take care of school business. Then the new student will eat lunch at the Aloha Student Center and meet his or her sponsor, most likely a member of the Leo Club or JROTC. The sponsor will eat lunch with them, show them around campus and talk about the school. “;Basically (we will) just be their friend for the week so that they aren't swallowed up by 2,000 kids and asking themselves, 'Where do I sit?'”; Schubert said. That's not to say though, that they would just be left alone after a week or two. “;If they hit it off, then that's great. But if not, that's OK.”;

The idea of a transition center is greeted optimistically by those who already know what it's like without one.

“;A transition center would have helped so much when I moved here,”; Michaud said. “;Just to have a place to hang out for a few days before I met people and to have a place to get information about the school, the teachers, what classes are hard and easy—it would have been really helpful.”; Though other military students who find themselves in the position she was in a year ago will certainly find this transition center beneficial, it will also be open to every new student who arrives at Moanalua.

“;We won't turn anyone away,”; Schubert said. “;Military or civilian doesn't matter. Here's our Aloha Student Center.”;