Star-Bulletin Features

[Hawaii's Schools]

Students in Waianae's news writing course learned how to write items for TV's "Searider News" and the school's newspaper.

Waianae High
stretches space

Students find plenty of activities
to make use of their campus

Students explore creative freedom in poetry


By Liberty Peralta
Waianae High School

Waianae High School, on the Leeward Coast, is situated on a beach that borders the Pacific Ocean. At first glance of the school, you may notice that the campus is exceptionally huge -- at 40.1 acres, it must mean that a lot is going on at the school.

Well, you're right.

WHS has approximately 1,950 students in grades 9-12. With that many students attending a school, there has to be more than one way to learn, and what better way to learn than to interact with others? The Marine Science Learning Center, Hawaiian studies, and Searider Productions are some of the many programs that demonstrate this effective, progressive and enjoyable way of picking up knowledge and helpful life skills.

The Marine Science Learning Program, an elective subject, is popular with students and community members alike. The 40 students participating in the program cultivate and sell their products. The ogo (seaweed) and fish are raised in a saltwater aquaculture facility, comprised of a group of oversize tanks behind the school and a canal that runs the width of the WHS campus.

Dana Hoppe, program coordinator, said that the students, divided into four classes, "sell (the ogo and fish) to churches, families, fishermen and local grocery stores like Tamura's Supermarket, Waianae Store and Nanakuli Super."

To keep track of sales, each student is given an accounting book. After the cultivating, selling and record-keeping, all the hard work eventually pays off with an annual trip to the Big Island, held this year from Feb. 16 to 19. Once there, students go to the Oceanic Institute to enhance their learning experience.

Hoppe said the students undergo "cooperative learning."

"(The program) teaches students respect, responsibility, teamwork and cooperation," she said. "They learn basic skills that are needed whether they enter a marine science career or another career."

Speaking of careers, adviser Linda Gallano described the Hawaiian studies class she heads as "an integrated career and college prep program." Once a week, the 62 students in the program go off campus to their respective sites to "do hands-on, on-the-job activities," Gallano said. They engage in multiple interactive projects, such as trips to Kuilioloa Heiau, where they clean up the area and put in native plants.

The program has received various awards, both statewide and nationwide, from archaeological and watershed projects.

"We integrate around Hawaiian-based values," explained Gallano. "Students can work in the areas of archaeology, native plants, reforestation, environmental science, watershed studies, preparation for teaching, health and video production."

Like the Hawaiian studies class, Searider Productions produces video work, most notably "Searider News," a monthly newsmagazine broadcast on Sundays at 8:30 p.m. on Oceanic's 'Olelo channel 56. Like the Marine Science Program, Searider Productions is well known within the local community, but more as an information and entertainment source.

Approximately 300 students divide into five elective classes. The mass-media and TV productions classes, headed by Candy Suiso, David Lato, and John Allen III, produce the news and public service announcements seen on "Searider News." Meanwhile, students learn how to create Web pages and other Internet-related media in the computer science class taught by Norman Chock.

The news writing and yearbook courses, two separate classes advised by Lorraine Gershun, teach students the basis for writing and publishing news in print. Students either help compile the annual yearbook or write news stories for "Searider News" or Ka Leo O Waianae, the school's monthly student newspaper, which is made as a companion to the TV broadcast.

Waianae High School houses myriad activities, sports and programs in which students participate. Whether they prefer marine life, Hawaiian culture, communications, athletics or an alternative method of learning, students are free to recognize their strengths through interaction with others. Some are extracurricular; others are worth school credits.

And so, as the sun beats down on the dry Leeward Coast and students journey their way home for the day, you realize that some of them have much more to do than look out at the ocean.



Waianae's poetry classes have drawn upon pictures and visits to nearby beaches as inspiration for students to express their emotions on paper.

Students explore
creative freedom
in poetry

The lessons held in the third
quarter offer an expressive
outlet other than essays

By Yvonne Himan
Waianae High School

For centuries, poetry has been used to express hidden passions, compare contrasting elements and describe the aesthetic quality of nature.

At Waianae High School, underclassmen explore different poetic devices during the third quarter to expand their creative horizons and learn new ways to express their emotions.

English teacher Michelle Toyooka said poetry "gives students a different style of expression other than writing essays."

"It gives them creative freedom that essays can't," she said.

At first, most students were "unsure and intimidated," Toyooka said, but "once they understood what they were doing, it was all right for them."

Educators use unique and inspiring methods to teach students how to get in touch with their feelings. English teacher Asa Yamashita showed students various pictures to induce feelings and thoughts for their poetry. Yamashita's freshmen wrote haiku based on photographs posted along classroom walls.

Freshman Quentin Rita wrote a haiku about a lonely willow tree standing in fog along the Columbia River:

The dying tree sits
Alone it sits in sorrow
All alone forever.
Mauna Burgess and Aaron Haywood wrote a poem inspired by a photograph of an aurora borealis:
Burning the night sky
Sun and moon like two brothers
Hand to hand they turn
Rivaling through the dark
Rising and falling in play.

Yamashita also took her students to the back yard of the high school: the beachfront. Amid the waves along the coral-lined shore, students were given a time of peace and contemplation to write poetry inspired by a day at the beach.

The experience at the beach taught students that perception and ideas are key for writing unique poetry. Sophomore Kristie Milam wrote a poem without a bounding scheme, called free verse, entitled "Bi no Umi (Ocean of Beauty)":

She wears the earth
Like a beautiful gown
The never-ending sky
Blankets her from harm
The sand is like her bed
She sleeps soundlessly
Swaying back and forth
She is greater than the universe
The clouds above her
Decorate her endless sky
She cries in her sleep
She cries like the trees and the sky
The wind whispers to her
And soothingly calms her soul
The sun's rays keep her warm
The wind embraces her
But still her fingertips
Reach for the stars

Fingertips reach for an absolution.

The poetry lessons enabled creative freedom and gave an opportunity for even the shy, introverted student to share their souls through verse.

It takes a few minutes, some interesting ideas and words provoking powerful imagery to create awe-inspiring poems of wisdom and truth that may be remembered among the greats.




Each week, Hawaii's teenage reporters and photographers tell us about their high school. This week's school is Waianae High School.

Newspaper: Ka Leo O Waianae
Faculty adviser: Lorraine Gershun
Next week: McKinley


Principal: JoAnn Kumasaka
Students: 1,995 students (52 percent male, 48 percent female)
Faculty: 142
Address: 85-251 Farrington Hwy., Waianae, HI 96792
Mascot: Searider
Colors: Red and blue
Campus size: 35 acres

Compiled by Nick Smith, Waianae High School




What do you like best about Waianae High School?

Naomi Medeiros
"The people, because everyone is just friendly, and they know how to have fun and a good time."

Samantha Medeiros
"I like the ocean view and that it's close to home -- it doesn't take that long to get to school."

Ashia Kaniaupio
"I like Waianae because Waianae has a lot of aloha to give, and people judge us on the outside instead of the inside."

Charleen Salazar
"Teachers, because they are there to help you with your work during school and after. They have confidence in us students and push us to achieve our goal."

Amber Green
"I like that we get to cruise every day during recess or lunch, walk and eat where we want."

Nichole Castillo
"The people and students are OK to hang with and no one is racist."

Asa Yamashita
English teacher
"The students -- they make me laugh."

Mika Pitolo
"I like Waianae because of its success in football and because of the talents that we have in every other sport."

Amanda Benitez (left)
"The teachers, because most of them seem to care."

Courtney Ewa (right)
"The music -- we have more dances, I guess."

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