Heed the warnings, make good choices

LIHU‘E — What happens when a student moves from elementary school to middle school?

Aspects of a student’s growth, physical and emotional, the challenges and coping skills were discussed among more than 500 of Kaua‘i’s fifth-grade students in  public elementary schools, Monday during the 20th Student Transition Convention hosted by the Adult Friends for Youth at the War Memorial Convention Hall.

“This is an exciting new time in your life,” said Gloria Girald of Kaua‘i Commercial Company, an A&B Hawai‘i subsidiary. “A&B Foundation provided Kaua‘i with a $3,000 grant to help with this convention because we believe today’s youth will be the successes of tomorrow.”

In addition to the A&B Foundation grant, Debbie Spencer-Chun, president of Adult Friends for Youth, said the annual convention dealing with the transition of youth from elementary to middle school is made possible through the help of Gear Up Hawai‘i, enterprise rent-a-car, Frank De Lima, and the Waimea High School Jr. ROTC program.

Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said the move from elementary school to middle school is about opening new doors and making new choices.

“This is all about new and different choices,” Carvalho said. “We in the county, your parents and teachers support you. But we want you to keep all your doors open — middle school, high school, college and beyond.”

Will Okabe of the Hawai‘i State Teachers Association, said physically, there will be changes taking place.

“Right now, the girls are taller than boys,” Okabe said, drawing laughter and kidding from the audience. “But 99 percent of the boys will start getting taller in middle school.”

Okabe said one of the differences between elementary and middle school is when in elementary school, there is one teacher, but at the middle school, it’s not unusual to have five, six, and seven teachers.

“It’s very important to get to know the name of your teachers,” Okabe said. “There will also be new things happening at the middle school, such as changing classes, and it’s important to set an example for others just as those who have brothers and sisters who are graduating from high school have set examples for you to follow.”

Okabe said there will be challenges, but with responsibility, students are able to handle the changes.

“How many of you remember when your parents left you in kindergarten?” Okabe said. “This was a very important first step. You made it until this point, and you’ll continue if you remember to never say you cannot do something. What matters is how you finish.”

De Lima turned to his prowess and talent in comedy to drive home points on asking teachers for advice and how making right choices can lead to reducing the number of “bad days” and succeeding, drawing on his trade-marked characters such as Glen Miyashiro, Miss Kamabuko, Ariyoshi Middle School, Bla-La, Tita and Bart Souza.

William Arakaki, the Kaua‘i Area Complex superintendent, agreed with Alan Silva, the emcee for the event, in celebrating moving up from elementary school to middle school.

“This is a milestone because we’re celebrating moving up, today,” Arakaki said. “This is an exciting time. There will be more electives to choose from including robotics, music, forensics and even drama. There will be differences because you’ll meet new people from different schools who will be in your class.”

De Lima said the choices made will determine how many bad days we have.

LIHU‘E — Waimea High School Jr. ROTC Cadet LTC Kendra Ishidawaited patiently with her charge of Kapa‘a Elementary Schoolfifth-graders, Monday at the 20th Student TransitionConvention.

Ishida, described by Major Victor Aquilar, director and instructorof the Waimea Jr. ROTC program, as one of the unit’s top cadets,was wrapping up a busy weekend, representing the Menehune unitduring the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce “Taste of Waimea,” Thursdaycelebrating Kaua‘i’s military and more specifically, the PacificMissile Range Facility at Mana and a century of NavalAviation.

She followed that by participating in the 33rd Annual Hawai‘i Hoteland Lodging  Association, Kaua‘i Chapter Visitor Industry CharityWalk, Saturday where she ran the route, finishing one of the firstin the 1,300-walker field.

“She’s also physically gifted,” Aguilar said during the Chamberevent. “She was our top female in the President’s program onphysical fitness, two years in a row.”

Aguilar said in April, she led a female team in the WaianaeAdventure Challenge, finishing third in the construction of a ropebridge and first in the Obstacle Course.

“As a freshman, Kendra was a diamond in the rough, a very quietwoman,” Aguilar said. “As a sophomore, she got involved andattended the Air Force JROTC Leadership Camp where she captured thetop graduate, Honor Graduate with Distinction.”

During Ishida’s junior year, she participated in the Army JROTCLeadership Camp and was selected the Assistant S4, responsible forthe preparation of meals for 500 cadets during the springbreak.

Ishida also applied for and gained admission to West Point’s summerseminar program where she participated for a week during thesummer.

Additionally, Ishida was the team leader of the Menehune teamduring the JROTC Leadership Academic Bowl which finished first inHawai‘i and the 8th Brigade encompassing units West of theMississippi.

Currently a senior where she discussed life after elementary schoolduring the 20th Student Transition Convention, Ishida is therecipient of a 4-year ROTC scholarship to the University of Oregonwhere she plans to major in Mandarin Chinese.

At Waimea High School, Ishida is currently taking Japanese whileplanning on learning Korean.

Ishida was accepted to the 2008 Confucius Program sponsored by theChinese government at the University of Hawai‘i and participated inthe 2009 Confucius Hanban Chinese Bridge program where she was ableto travel to China.

“She is truly one of our future leaders,” Aguilar said. “She camein as a diamond in the rough and with graduation, Friday, leaves apolished diamond — a leader and scholar.”

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