The staff of Na Alaka'i Kahua help high school students with their leadership skills by serving as role models. From upper left are Keone Kobylanski, Reid Chung, Glenn Prieto, Walter Enriquez, Jr., Micah Hu, Taylor Kirihara and camp founder Art Fillazar.

Isle camp molds
youth leaders

"The Leaders Camp" at
Lahainaluna High marks
a proud decade of student spirit

In a society filled with followers, one camp strives to create Hawaii's future leaders. This year Na Alaka'i Kahua (NAK), "The Leaders Camp," celebrated its 10th anniversary. It continues the tradition of serving Hawaii's youth a good dose of spirit and enthusiasm in leadership.

Every year, student leaders from all over the state spend four days of their summer vacation at Lahainaluna High School, learning new skills that include leadership dynamics and teamwork.

NAK was founded by Art "Uncle Fill" Fillazar, Lahainaluna's student activities coordinator, in the summer of 1993. NAK's first five years were directed by Norm Hull, a respected national motivational speaker and leadership consultant. At the conclusion of the fifth year, Fillazar and his staff decided that they could facilitate the entire camp.

Format changes included bringing in different consultants each year and utilizing local sources as workshop presenters.

"The change was an exciting one for us," said NAK Assistant Director Micah Hu, an education major at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Lahainaluna graduate.

Walter Enriquez Jr., a Waianae High School graduate who participated in the first NAK as a freshman, said, "This opportunity for us (the staff) to be role models to the delegates also made us stronger as community leaders."

Fillazar said: "I was serving as president for the HSAA (Hawaii Student Activities Association) and I wanted to provide more leadership training. The state provided a program called the Student Leadership Workshop, but it was always limited. I wanted to start a camp in which schools could send as many students as they could monetarily afford." On average, 30 schools statewide attend the camp annually.

"Students love our camp because they feel good about themselves and get excited about moving forward," said Fillazar. "They quickly pick up leadership skills because they feel confident and energized through the camp experience."

"What makes Na Alaka'i Kahua different from other camps is that its main focus is on the bonding and networking aspect of student leadership," said staff member Taylor Kirihara. "Many of the leadership camps focus more on organizational skills, but NAK puts that on the back burner and teaches people to lead through the human aspect, the heart. Of all the camps I've attended, this is the most emotional and fun."

Delegates participate in workshops that cater to leadership needs and skills development as well as games, skits and talent shows.

"Na Alaka'i is the only camp I know in Hawaii and possibly the U.S.A. that increases student leaders' pride for themselves, thus within their council, and within their school," said Kaipo Tam of Roosevelt High School. "Just like the film 'Pay It Forward,' Uncle Fill passes on his cheerfulness and willingness to us and we pass it to our council."

Camp themes vary each year, with every theme enhancing the students' ability to be better leaders.

"We provide sessions on identifying roles of officers, steps in conducting meetings, skills to include more students in the program and ideas for school activities," said Fillazar. "Motivational speakers also provide us with words of encouragement. We have attempted to provide a program that would benefit a student leader."

"A very interesting activity that we shared with our students was the 'Electric Fence,'" said facilitator Bryce Mendes of King Kekaulike High School. "The students needed to use teamwork, leadership, and communication skills to get to the other side of the 'fence' without touching it. As they failed a couple of times, they soon began to incorporate the many skills that we, the facilitators, have taught them."

Jennifer Hamada of Waiakea High School said, "NAK is important in terms of experience and opportunities it offers to the students of Hawaii. It's not everyday that one can generate and maintain a friendship with students from across the sea or have the chance to experience something that initiates understanding, maturity, and knowledge."

"Everyone is searching for some sort of purpose in their lives and through NAK, I've found mine," Kirihara said. "If I could make a positive impact on other lives, then my own life has gained meaning and purpose. NAK allowed me the opportunity to fulfill this personal creed of mine."

Fillazar said, "I'd love to see NAK continue, however, I'm not sure how much longer it can exist or how many schools can afford to attend. The cost for air fares have gone up and my staff may not be able to take vacation time as easily as it was when they were college students."


Tokyo students get
primer in island culture

A summer program gives girls
from Japan two memorable weeks

There are many different summer seminar programs in the world, but Lahainaluna High School hosts one of the most successful. The Japan Summer Program, as it is better known, recently celebrated its 34th year in operation.

Ralph Murakami, a former Lahainaluna principal, along with Asahi Travel, the program's sponsor, established the program. It began as an exchange program, but after the first year, Murakami and Asahi Travel found it too difficult. Today, only girls from Japan participate in the program, which is now under the direction of Lahainaluna Principal Michael Nakano.

The program gives junior and senior high school students an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills in English and teaches them about the diversity found in the Hawaiian and American cultures. As part of the curriculum, instructors expose students to various historic and scenic sites, museums, industries and cultural exhibits, all while staying in Lahainaluna's dorm for two weeks.

"In Japan, there is only one culture, unlike here, where there are so many," said Andrew Kutsunai, activity coordinator. "The girls are always surprised to be exposed to all the different cultures."

Nakano said: "This year's program went very well. This was probably one of our best years."

In the past, the program would accommodate 80 to 100 students from five schools each year, but after 9/11, the numbers have decreased. This year, 52 students from three Tokyo schools attended, along with two teachers, one vice principal and two travel guides from Asahi Travel.

The first day started off quite slow as the girls arrived tired from the long plane ride.

"When the girls walked into the cafeteria, they went straight to the tables, sat and put their heads down," student worker Ciara Ganter said.

As the days went on, the girls got more comfortable around the staff.

"I thought they were going to be quiet girls," Ganter said. "But after a couple days with them, I realized that my first impression was wrong and that they were really sweet girls who were very curious about everything we did, wore and said."

At the midpoint of the program, the Japanese students practiced their conversational English skills and social skills with Lahainaluna students at a social. They ate, mingled and danced, later saying they had never been to such an event and loved talking with the American boys.

In appreciation for the hard work put into their stay at LHS, the Japanese girls hosted an aloha dinner. With two weeks filled with pleasant memories, it was difficult to see it end.

"We made friends with them, and it was really hard to see them leave," said student worker Noelle Serrano.

Student worker Grant Milanio agreed. "It was weird because when I first met them, I didn't think I would get so close to them as I did," Milanio said. "But when they left, it was sad because we did get so close over such a short period."

Staff member Robert Kawaguchi said: "It's good to exchange culture so that we have a better understanding of each other. This program has been a very pleasant experience throughout the years."


About This Page

Each week, Hawaii's teenage reporters and photographers tell us about their high school. This week's school is Lahainaluna on Maui.

Newspaper: Ka Leo Luna
Editor: Marvin Corpuz Viloria
Faculty adviser: Shanda Sasai
Next week: St. Francis

School Logo

Luna facts

Established in 1831, Lahainaluna is the oldest school west of the Mississippi.

Address: 980 Lahainaluna Road, Lahaina, HI 96761
Phone: (808) 662-4000
Principal: Michael Nakano
Nickname: Lunas
Colors: Red and white
Enrollment: 1,000


You Asked

"There's a word or phrase written
on your forehead -- what is it?"

Samantha Huerter
"Leading without a cause."

Tasha Pagdilao
"Space for rent!"

Darren Hirouji

Ray Velasco
"This side up."

Vincent Castaneto
"And your point is..."

Jessica Luben
"Take me to your leader."

Kathleen Tomas

Jay Ramos

Zach Bali
"Stop staring at my forehead!"

Carson Chihara
"Regrets are worthless."

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