School starts new year
on multitrack system
Year-round classes enableBy Alisa LaVelle
1,600 students to attend a
Yesterday was the first day for Mililani Middle School's year-round multitrack system, the first in the state.
It also was the first time sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders were in classes at the same time at the school and the first look at the schedules to make it possible for 1,600 students to attend a 1,200 capacity school.
Mililani Middle School began its school year yesterday, within weeks of the close of the previous year. The second track of 400 students will start in a month, the third in two months and the fourth in three months, when the first track is on vacation. The students on the first track will end their year on May 23, 2000.
The grass and trees just started growing, and two buildings have yet to be occupied. Construction noise competes with sounds of excited students. But the children with only a short summer break have no complaints.
"We have air-conditioning," said Chad Fukumae, a sixth-grader who had attended Mililani Uka. "And it's so much bigger than my old school."
"We have all new stuff and all the nice blue computers," said Danielle Ingram, a sixth-grader who attended Mililani Waena Elementary.
Located in the growing Mililani Mauka area, the school sits on 15 acres near a large park. The school includes an amphitheater, lighted basketball courts and two media centers.
When completed, the school will have about 350 computers. There are five IBMs in each classroom. The two computer labs have 27 Macs each. A multimedia lab allows the students to do Web pages, video and QuickTime virtual reality production.
The school library allows students to checks out CD-ROMs.
For parents, students and teachers, the buildings and all the equipment make for a great learning experience. The only problem is adjusting to the year-round schedule.
"I'm not prepared for the three weeks off yet," said Janet Wiggs, who has a daughter in the sixth grade. Students who started yesterday will have their first break in August. Wiggs, like many other parents, works and needs to juggle schedules to accommodate the quarterly breaks.
"With our work schedules, our son ends up home alone a lot during the breaks," said Diane Kimura, whose son started sixth grade. She said they are trying to get used to the tracks.
By next year, 105 out of 252 of the public schools will go to year-round schedules. This means 75,500 students or about half of all public school students will have shortened summers with frequent breaks.
"Our parents may not be totally happy, but this was the best solution," Principal Rodger Kim said.