Classes and rules
have changed swiftly
Fences soon will keep unwanted
visitors out and students in
By Ryan Okamoto
Hilo High School
Being a senior at Hilo High School, I've walked these halls and sidewalks, attended classes and interacted with other students for four years now.
A lot can change in four years. Rules change, your environment changes, the way things work changes, people change. But it is rare to see so many changes take place at one location over such a short period of time. Being a member of the class of 2003, I have had the opportunity to observe these changes from the student perspective.
During my time here, we've gone through four principals. This meant more than just a different face greeting us at the beginning of the Welcome Back Rally in the first week of school. It meant that we students had to get used to big changes in the way we went about our daily school lives.
The number of classes per day went to only three from five, changing in length to nearly an hour and a half from about 50 minutes. Students are now allowed only three unexcused absences instead of five, and so many come to school before they are well rather than go to a 90-minute after-school study hall to make up each period missed.
We are reminded every Tuesday and Thursday just how much we've been affected by change as we attend our Student Support Groups. This half-hour "homeroom" is a new addition to our schedule, first implemented last year. Some welcome this opportunity to study, but most think it's a waste of time.
Students have noticed that security has been cracking down in a big way ever since the new safety manager, a retired policeman, was hired.
It is now much harder for kids to leave school or cut classes, but a ban on sunflower seeds and searches of backpacks if they are left unattended? That seems a bit much. Students accustomed to leaving book bags and purses in the patio are now being warned via the PA system in morning announcements not to leave their belongings unattended anywhere on campus.
There has been a lot of renovation around the campus as well. All standards set by the American Disabilities Act will be met, making the campus equally accessible for all students. Railings and ramps have been installed, much to the disdain of students and teachers who had to work with the sounds of nearby jackhammers and cement mixers.
A large fence separating the campus from Waianuenue Avenue is being constructed, and our school will soon be surrounded on all sides by fences. The purpose is to keep out unwanted visitors while keeping students in during class time and recesses.
The pool and 100 classrooms are scheduled to be renovated by the end of next year at a cost of nearly $4.2 million. Some teachers doubt that the state Department of Accounting & General Services will release the money, fearing room renovations will go the way of our dilapidated gym.
Not all things about Hilo High have to do with construction or rules. One thing that has made our school special is how it is such a melting pot of student diversity.
It is hard for students who have been here all their years to imagine that things are different at other schools. Acceptance at Hilo High comes easy, and while there are all the different groups here, one rarely sees the formation of strict cliques as elsewhere.
Our school is nearly 100 years old now. Students have become teachers, stairs have become ramps, imaginary lines are now fences and railings, class hours are different and classmates have become friends.
If someone were to ask me what it is like to be a student at Hilo High School, I'd say: "Well, I'd tell you now, but the thing is, my answer might not be the same if you were to ask me again in a couple of months. Either way, I'm glad I'm here."
Hilo High School
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