Chiefess students may get yearbooks after all

Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School students may receive a reprinted, revised yearbook later this summer, according to a letter from Principal Debra Badua sent home Wednesday. The news comes one week after Badua announced that the original books had been destroyed due to errors.

Replacements were the only option mentioned in the letter, which states that staff is exploring ways to provide students with a “quality product” by which they may remember the school year.

Badua apologized “for the disappointment this has caused for our students” but noted that an investigation is ongoing.

“… The yearbook process will be revised to avoid future yearbook errors,” she states in the letter. There was no mention, however, of the types of errors found.

Badua has declined to explain the nature of the inaccuracies, telling The Garden Island last week only that there were a “wide variety,” which “detracted from the quality” of the publication.

Badua opted not to comment for this report.

Parents and students have expressed disappointment at the decision to discard the books; some even planned protests in front of the school yesterday.

According to Sara Sloan, mother of a sixth-grade student in the Chiefess yearbook class, she and a group of 20 or so parents called off their protest because the letter represented a “positive step forward.”

While Sloan was pleased that Badua reconsidered her initial stance, she said overarching concerns about the situation remain.

“It’s our kids’ work and it shouldn’t be thrown away,” she said. “My husband and I feel like, as parents, we should know what our child accomplished in class all year.”

According to Sloan’s daughter, Badua spoke to the yearbook class last week and noted on the chalkboard that misspelled names, a lack of commas and improper verbiage were the reasons the book was destroyed.

Sloan said she is most upset that the decision appeared to be made by the principal alone. Had the student body, a panel of teachers or the Parent Teacher Association been involved, she said she might feel better about the action.

“Parents aren’t upset about the errors,” Sloan continued. “It’s that our kids work was destroyed and done with such finality and lack of explanation.”

Bob Long, parent of a Chiefess eighth-grader, was similarly dismayed by what he called a “poorly handled” move.

“If there were problems with the yearbook, why wasn’t it addressed a year ago?” Long asked.

According to Susan Keller, president of the Parent Teacher Student Association for Kilauea Elementary School, creating a yearbook is time-consuming work.

She said the material is usually prepared months in advance of the school’s last day because the books are printed on the Mainland and shipped back to the island.

Based on her experience volunteering with Kilauea’s yearbook, Keller said there is usually a shortage of manpower to devote to the task — especially since yearbook teachers add the elective to already full plates.

“People can complain all they want, but the bottom line is schools do need help,” Keller said.

With the school year ended yesterday, students and parents will have to wait for resolution of the issue over summer break.

In the letter, Badua assures parents and students that they will be notified via mail as soon as a solution is “worked out” and approved by Complex Area Superintendent Daniel Hamada.

Hamada did not return calls for comment by press time.

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