[ HAWAII'S SCHOOLS ]
COURTESY OF WAIPAHU HIGH SCHOOL|
Students in the Freshmen Housing program take part in this year's homecoming parade, showing their class and school spirit and making a statement of unity.
The new program puts freshmen
together for a more comfortable
Being the new baby fish in the big pond isn't always a comfortable experience. Waipahu High School is helping the "baby fishes" transition from intermediate to high school as comfortably as possible.
Along with the Focus On Freshmen classes created last year, this year's freshmen were introduced to a new program called Freshmen Housing. Freshmen Housing gives teachers more one-on-one time with their students and helps them adjust to their new surroundings.
This is the first year Freshmen Housing has been in effect. It is based on the concept of Small Learning Communities, where all freshmen are placed into a house. This is a new way of teaching that started on the mainland. After visiting schools in Washington, Waipahu High School's teachers decided to try housing.
The houses, into which select freshmen have been separated, focus on knowledge, skills and personal responsibility.
Every freshman involved in the house has the same classmates and teachers for their five core classes. This year there are two houses: "The League of Extraordinary Freshmen" and "Na Ala Kahi Waipahu."
Each house also includes a house council that is made up of six randomly selected students. This council is responsible for planning field trips and community service projects for their houses.
"One service project they are planning to do is a walk-a-thon with Waikele Elementary," house teacher Elaina Paredes said.
The money collected will be donated to Waipahu Elementary School's library to buy new books and computers.
The curriculum for the house freshmen differs from their peers who are nonhouse freshmen. The house has a set curriculum developed in advance by their house teachers. For the first quarter, their focus is on the Olympics. Their physical education class will be focusing on various events like the 100-meter dash, 400-meter run, 1,500-meter run, relays and other Olympic events.
What they learn in physical education will carry over to math class, where they will work on creating graphs and calculations. In English class they will write essays about past Olympics, and in biology class they will study different types of environments or weather conditions.
Each quarter will have a different focus to which all five core classes will connect their studies. The second quarter's focus will be literary performance; the third quarter will concentrate on the science fair; and the fourth quarter's emphasis will be the math fair. Along with class work and homework, house freshmen also have to complete a grade check every two weeks.
Freshmen Housing also makes it easier for teachers to keep tabs on their students and allows for flexibility in each class. Instead of each teacher keeping track of more than 100 students, teachers are assigned to certain students and serve as advisers or mentors. This helps them create a more personal relationship with their students. Each freshman has a teacher mentor whom they can go to for help with schoolwork, problems or just to talk.
House teachers meet two to three times a week and discuss their lesson plans for the upcoming week and problems they are having in classes or with students. This allows all of the house teachers to target a student's weakness and help share student achievements.
The new housing program also makes it harder for a student to cut class without having one of their teachers finding out. "I get 100 percent participation from my house kids in PE, and attendance has improved," Paredes said.
Freshmen Housing is new but likely will continue next year with the incoming freshmen.
"This is a good program and we're making great strides," house English teacher Erik Tamura said. "I hope we'll be able to sustain it and continue the program into their sophomore year."
Since this is the first year for the program and house teachers, there is still much to learn and room for improvement.
"We're growing each day, and this will help strengthen our program this year and for all the years that follow," Tamura said.
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[ COMMENTARY ]
Smoking ruins health
and fouls air we share
A few problems can hold us back from living our lives to the fullest. Some of these are litter, teen pregnancy, the ice epidemic and, worst of all, smokers.
That's right, smokers. Those yellow-toothed, money-wasting, nasty-smelling smokers.
They're everywhere. They're at your bus stops, they're at your parties, some of them live in your homes and, worst of all, they go to your high school. While statistics show smoking is decreasing, one smoker is one too many. What are we going to do with these cretins?
At a recent concert I attended, my friends and I were having the time of our lives. There were also four ravishing girls beside us having the time of their lives.
Later, one of the girls picked in her bag in search of something. To my surprise, she took out a pack of death sticks. She spread the death by giving one to each of her girlfriends, and they all lit up, creating a cloud of noxious poison. I was disappointed to see all of them joyously sucking away at their nicotine. It's depressing to think that all the hot girls with grand personalities might smoke. What a waste!
The saddest cases of smokers are the ones who smoke in high school. They are supposed to be getting an education, not hiding in the bathroom, smoking their lives away. It's ridiculous.
It's also pathetic to hear high school students saying, "I smoke because of all the stress." Stress? Is living under your parents' roof with free food stressful? I can't wait to see what they'll light up when they actually have to get a real job and support themselves. That's stress.
People who smoke complain, "I smoke because it decreases stress," or "I want to quit but it's so hard." These smokers are weak and should be punished in the most severe form possible. Why? These degenerates are not only hurting themselves, they are ruining my air. At a concert, I pay a pretty penny to use the facility for entertainment, not to be cooped up with clouds of death.
This entry should have broken all those who smoke, or at least the thought of quitting should be lingering in their brains. If not, perhaps they'll smoke their lives away, because no one is going to feel sorry for them when their teeth yellow, their lungs fall out and their halitosis worsens.
We have enough problems in the world. We don't need smokers around to contribute something else to our poor health. Power to the nonsmokers!
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About this Section
Each week, Hawaii's teenage reporters and photographers tell us about their high school. This week's school is Waipahu High School.
The Cane Tassel
Nanakuli High School
94-1211 Farrington Highway
Waipahu, HI 96797
Blue and gold
Marauder (named after
the U.S. planes that
flew over Pearl Harbor)
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"If you could spend one hour
with someone famous, dead or alive,
who would it be and why?"
"I would select Mario Lopez because he's the sexiest guy in the world. He's also a good role model because he's a successful actor, and it doesn't hurt that he has a nice body."
"Albert Einstein, because I'm struggling in math right now, and I'm sure he could help me."
"I'd spend an hour with Rory Gilmore. She's from 'Gilmore Girls,' and we'd discuss the finer things in life, like books and rich grandparents."
Rhea Ashley Dela Cruz
"I would spend an hour with Stephen King because I'd like to know how he came up with such sick ideas and how he makes them into such wonderful stories."
"The Wright brothers, just to learn about how they built their airplanes. When I was younger, airplanes inspired me, and I would love to speak with them."
"I'd like to spend time with Helen Keller. I'd like to learn how someone could possibly learn to read and write without being able to hear or see."
"Mia Hamm because she is the best professional women's soccer player. She's my role model, and I really look up to her."
"Marcus Devalentino, the martial artist, because I admire him. He's one of the best, and because of him I got my black belt."
"Mohammed Ali because of his strategic genius and tactics in the ring."
"Clark Gable! I have a weakness for classics. My friends think it's hilarious but I don't care. He was handsome!"
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