Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Wednesday, June 6, 2001

School designations
denote teaching styles

Question: Why are some schools in Hawaii called "middle" schools and others called "intermediate" schools? What's the difference?

Answer: The difference is philosophical, with "middle schools" embracing the concept of tending to the needs of the whole child -- not just academics -- for students in grades 6 to 8.

Also, most middle schools here have grouped the sixth grade with the traditional intermediate grades of 7 and 8, believing the sixth-grade child has more in common with the older group than with elementary-age students.

Traditionally, children are thrust from an elementary-school setting with one teacher/one classroom into the intermediate school, "which reflects the high-school model, where you're going class to class, (and) you're split off from your friends. It's almost too abrupt a transition," explained Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen.

Middle schools are supposed to offer more caring and personal attention in preparing children for high school.

"One feature is to assign one adult to every child to provide guidance, counseling and friendship so that the child doesn't get lost in the secondary-school level," Knudsen said.

"Someone who would be more attentive to an individual as an individual [and] look out for that person as a child, not just as a student going through the system."

Oftentimes, classes will blend together, working on projects, for example, that may cover social studies and English, he said.

It's a nationwide movement that started in Hawaii with the department's Honolulu District.

Of the 58 schools that deal with the "intermediate-age" child, 31 have adopted the middle-school philosophy: all 20 in the Honolulu District; 4 in the Central District; 1 in the Leeward District; none in the Windward District; 4 on the Big Island; 2 on Kauai; and none in Maui County, according to Knudsen.

(Not all intermediate grades are cleanly separated, with some schools being K-6; K-8, K-12 and 7-12. Currently, there are 22 schools that are only grades 6-8; and 12 that are just 7-8.)

New intermediate-level schools, as they open, generally are based on the middle-school model, Knudsen said, while others are converting.

It is up to each school to decide what to do, going through the school/community-based management process.


To the elderly man who collects cans around Kilauea District Park for going into the recycling container at Kaimuki Middle School and taking the aluminum cans. Every penny you get from "stealing" these cans is one less penny for the middle school students. -- No name

(We had a similar complaint of someone doing the same thing at a different school a couple of years ago. The word from HPD was to call 911 immediately, providing details and a license number of a vehicle, if possible. Police said, depending on the circumstances, they would talk to the alleged offender, send a warning letter or file a report.)


To the kind gentleman in the black pickup truck and the passerby who helped me push my car off Kamehameha Highway near Anna Miller's on the evening of May 5. Thank you also to officer Imoto for the battery jump. -- A Grateful Motorist

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