PHOTOS BY ART FILLAZAR; ILLUSTRATION BY JOSEPH FELIX / LAHAINALUNA HIGH SCHOOL
Boarding students at Lahainaluna learn how to be independent while gaining valuable social and vocational habits.
In the play "Annie," the children sing, "It's a hard-knock life." But what have Lahainaluna boarders got to sing about? Living a life on campus, especially cleaning it, may not be everyone's "ideal" living. Yet what inspires these students to board at the oldest school west of the Rocky Mountains?
labor and liberty
Rooming at school presentsYou asked
a special set of demands with
the opportunity for growth
Nene make campus home
By Marvin C. Viloria and Eileen Domingo
Lahainaluna High School
"Boarders are a very unique and special part of Lahainaluna," dorm matron Susan Yap said. "Being a boarder is a privilege, not a right."
"Boarders come to Lahainaluna to gain some independence," added junior Jesse Balanay, of Kona. "I wanted to become a boarder to try something different and to get away from everybody."
"Boarding is a privilege to the few who can live up to boarder responsibilities," said junior Logan Miles, of Hanalei, Kauai. "It separates the boys from the men."
"I wanted to come to Lahainaluna because I saw an opportunity for growth," said four-year boarder Kealani Gomez-Poland, from Kau on the Big Island.
The Lahainaluna Boarding Department has two objectives: to teach boarders desirable work habits and good body coordination, self-sufficiency, self-discipline and an understanding and acceptance of responsibility; and to create an environment around the boarder that will expand their horizons vocationally, socially and culturally.
"Being a boarder is like being in a college-bound school," said sophomore Brandon Akamine, of Kahului. "You have no parents to hold your hand. You're on your own."
Though being independent sounds good to any high school student, to boarders it is tagged with a valuable price. Waking up at 5:45 a.m., boarders work at their separate stations around campus or in a large group to do complex work. Most of their work consists of gardening, working in the cafeteria and making the campus orderly.
At 7 a.m. another bell rings, indicating that it's time to return to the dorms and get ready for school. From there the boarders become regular high school students, striving for a good education.
When the bell rings at 2 p.m., day students can relax and are relieved that their work is done, but for boarders, school is just the beginning. They work from 2:15 to 4 p.m. (3:45 p.m. if they have sports). But after that, boarders can relax or do homework. Boarders are required to spend two hours of study every night with no interruptions. Lights go out at 10 p.m.
"By being here, you have no choice but to do your work," said freshman Mathew Sikes, from Kau, Big Island. "I like it because it keeps you grounded."
Junior Patrick Oyama, of Lanai City, manages to handle sports, school and boarder life at the same time. Currently on the Lahainaluna boys varsity soccer team, he said, "Balancing everything teaches you good management skills."
On the flip side, girls varsity soccer player and senior Jayme Santiago, from Kihei, Maui, learned that school and sports could be a difficult combination.
"It's really tough," Santiago said. "Between waking up early to work and homework, it's difficult to keep up. Work is required before soccer, so by the end of the day, I'm wiped out."
They also work on Saturdays from 7:30 to 10:45 a.m. After work, most boarders leave campus to go "cruisin'" in downtown Lahaina.
"We are your typical teenagers," freshman Chelsie Smith-Kaukini, of Hana, said. "We go shopping, go to the beach, hang out with friends and eat!"
But boarders face problems that day students do not experience. "Some kids get very homesick," said Katy Greer, one of the girls' dorm counselors. "All kids have to learn how to live with 50 other kids, day in and day out."
Upperclassmen are roommates with the underclassmen to help them get comfortable with being new boarders. Freshman Sean Browne likes the idea of rooming with upperclassmen.
"They make you feel comfortable," he said. "They treat us well, and I see them as role models. They set good examples for us younger folks."
"There are many changes I see in the boarders," Yap said. "I see the freshmen look confused, scared and homesick. I see their upper class nurture them in rules and bravery. I see the sophomores gain confidence and feelings. I see the juniors instilled with pride and a growing maturity. And I see the seniors as leaders in work ethics as well as an ingrained pride of spirit and tradition that will be a part of their life to carry in their hearts forever, as proud alumni of the Boarding Department."
Many boarders feel that they are sometimes taken for granted.
"Boarders don't get enough credit and respect," Faurot said. "We feel disrespected when day students make a mess and don't clean things up."
"It's sad to say but boarders are underappreciated," librarian Sharyl Seino said. "Day students leave trash around campus and use the boarders as an excuse. We need to realize that boarders are here to take care of the school and not here to clean up everyone's opala."
Boarders are allowed to go home during Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring break.
"It's great to go home and see my family during the holidays," said sophomore Joey Lu'uwai, from Makawao, "but it gets depressing because I have to leave all my friends behind."
For the senior boarders, Lahainaluna has changed their outlook of life forever.
"My life as a boarder is really helping me for the real world," commented Santiago. "Some of my friends from other schools haven't learned the valid meaning of responsibility and independence. Some went to college but returned home because they couldn't handle the responsibility. As a boarder for four years, I am prepared to go in the real world because I learn what it truly means to be responsible and independent."
"Boarders will forever be a tradition of Lahainaluna," Greer said. "Boarders are the heart of Lahainaluna and always have been. Our school was founded for boarders. It wouldn't be the same without them."
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If you could go back to a time in history, when would it be and why?
"I would go to back when my mom was born because I want to see how happy my grandpa and grandma were."
"I would go back to the '70s so that I could see what my parents were like in high school."
"I would go back to when the foreigners overthrew Queen Liliuokalani. I would try and help her save Hawaii."
"I would go back to the time of the Black Plague because seeing all of the death and rotting corpses ... would be interesting and disturbing."
"I would go back to Martin Luther King Jr.'s time so that I could help him fight against racism."
"I would go back to the time when the Hawaiian Islands were not inhabited because I want to see how beautiful, green and untouched it was."
"I would go back to the medieval time so that I could go to those fancy balls, meet the royal family and wear those huge, pretty dresses."
"I'd go back to 1986, when I was born, so I could undo the mistakes that I've done to somehow make myself a better person."
"I would go back to the time of slavery. I would try to help prevent the violence."
"I would go back to the time when our school was first built because it would be interesting to see what it looked like then and to see how much it has changed."
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Each week, Hawaii's teenage reporters and photographers tell us about their high school. This week's school is Lahainaluna High School on Maui.
About this page
Newspaper: Ka Leo Luna
Editors: Jaime Jackson, Katie Bakke, Marvin Viloria, Debralyn Andres and Joseph Felix
Faculty adviser: Shanda Arume
Next week: McKinley High School
Address: 980 Lahainaluna Road, Lahaina, HI 96761
Phone number: 662-4000
Principal: Michael Nakano
Newspaper staff: 21
Stairway steps: 1,461
Boarding students: 100
Known tombstones on campus: 10
Sports offered: 15
Number of periods: 7
Number of career pathways: 5
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