Pereira’s impact to be lauded at lu‘au

The impact Patrick Pereira has made as a student, teacher, coach and administrator on Waimea High School and its community will be celebrated at an upcoming retirement lu‘au.

“The reason we are doing the lu‘au is because he did so much for kids and the school,” said organizer Basilio Fuertes. Pereira was reluctant to be honored, but was promised that the proceeds would go to the athletic department’s Richard Doi and Bunji Shimomura scholarship funds.

“Richard was my favorite (coach) in high school,” Pereira said. “He taught me the discipline I needed; so when I went to college, I had no problem.”

Pereira attended Central Washington State College in Ellensburg, now Central Washington University. He was named the outstanding freshman on the varsity football team, best blocker in his junior year, first team All Evergreen Conference in his junior and senior years. He also served as the team’s captain. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame, but did not attend the ceremonies. He will receive his certificate and medallion at the lu‘au.

After his freshman year, Pereira was recruited by the University of Hawai‘i and offered a full scholarship. He refused the offer.

“I was taught loyalty,” Pereira said. “Mr. Doi was a stickler on loyalty.” He remained at Central Washington for four years.

Pereira’s loyalty will also be recognized at the lu‘au.

“As a graduate of WHS, he has a loyalty to make this a better school,” Fuertes said. “In 32 years, all his career, he never changed schools.”

Discipline and loyalty seem to be key words for Pereira. As a vice principal for about 14 years, he felt students had to have “good self-discipline.” He said he was firm and he spoke strongly, but the students never felt that they weren’t loved.

He said combining discipline with love was simple. He would discipline a student and the next day he would go out of his way to say hello or talk story or shake his/her hand.

“I never got to the point where I had to discipline students and didn’t like them after that,” Pereira said. “I’m not that type of fella.”

Fuertes said that Pereira’s rapport with students “is something we really admire.”

Discipline was also important to Pereira as a coach.

“If discipline on the school level was something, you should have seen the football team,” Pereira said. It was all business on the practice field for Pereira. He said they had a plan and they worked it.

Off the field, however, Pereira said he would visit the boys in the locker room and joke with them.

Fuertes said Pereira had a lot of success as a coach. He had five football championships between the mid ‘80’s and early ‘90’s and 17 track championships during his tenure from 1977 to 1991.

“He used to be strict,” Fuertes said. “He had the respect from students for his decision-making.”

Fuertes said the lu`au program will include a tape of one of the highlights of Pereira’s coaching days. It was a WHS homecoming game. They were behind 20-6 with 1:30 left in the game. Pereira had his head shaved after the game in celebration of the win he and his team pulled off.

When Pereira looks back over the years, he senses a change in American values.

“Recognition for the kids is great,” Pereira said, “but a kid has to know if he is the best or if there is someone better. If he doesn’t know that, he will be in dreamland all his life.”

Pereira remembers when he was “a little tyke” trying out for little league.

“I was a fat kid,” Pereira said. “I didn’t have the skills.”

When cut day came, the coach told Pereira to go home. He was being cut because he was too fat. Pereira said he was so embarrassed that he ran home and hid under the house.

His father came looking for him and upon hearing his story said, “Son, there are worse things in life. You can always try again.”

Pereira said that helped him and he got better for it.

As a student athlete at WHS, he still wasn’t any good at baseball and he couldn’t float very well so didn’t make the swim team, but he was class president for four years. He placed first “most of the time” as a junior and senior in track throwing the shot put. He also was named to the KIF first team as a line man in football and was picked as a captain in his sophomore year.

Fuertes said Pereira’s classmates, teammates, student-athletes and friends will help the former WHS student, teacher, coach and administrator see how he has inspired them and served as a role model.

“Everybody, wear blue,” Fuertes said.

The lu`au/scholarship fundraiser will be held on the front lawn of the WHS campus on Saturday, August 9 starting at 5:00 p. m. Tickets for dinner and pupu cost $10 and are available from Mary Kagawa Garcia at Na Pali Explorers 338-9999 or by calling Basilio Fuertes at 482-1165 or 337-1273.

• Cynthia Matsuoka is a freelance writer for The Garden Island and former principal of Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School. She can be reached by e-mail at aharju@kauaipubco.com

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