Letters for Thursday, April 5, 2012

About a caring studentBah, humbug

About a caring student

Thanks Coach Morgado, your letter was long overdue. I have wanted to write a letter since day one from our incident at Kapa‘a High School, but was told not to contact the media. However, here I am now. The media and police made the arrest sound much more glamorous than it actually was. As a witness, I am sure the truth will prevail in our court system. I have read and heard many comments from people, both in outrage and in support of Tumua. Some true and some so off the cuff wrong that it is time the record was set straight.

Let me tell you about the Tumua I first met and then a bit about last month. I first met Tumua his freshman year of high school where I taught him in two subjects. He was in a classroom of some of our roughest and toughest. What I saw was a big teddy bear just trying to survive and not be shamed. Kids would urge him to do things and to “be cool” or stay popular, but how many 13- or 14-year-olds aren’t?.

As he has matured and continued his career at Kapa‘a, he has made continuous strides in managing his impulsiveness and basically not reacting to outside influences to not be shamed. Sure, he still makes mistakes in judgment, but can any of us say we don’t? Has he matured to a level that will work in society? Yes, he is pretty much there, but can he still be impulsive at times? Yet again, who isn’t impulsive sometimes no matter what our age?

The Tumua I know as a senior today is caring, will go out of the way to help anybody, has a terrific sense of humor, loves to joke with his peers and teachers, is loyal to his family and friends, is grateful to all adults who have mentored him and is an all-around friend to those who know him.

He has dreams and goals to achieve and I know he will if he continues to work towards them. Will he still make mistakes, heck yeah, he will, just as we all have. Tumua is a strong-willed young man and that inner strength — not the outer strength people see him as — and morals instilled by his parents will continue to carry him through his life journey, no matter where his path may lead.

Now, for our campus incident. The reports make him sound like he was kicking, hitting, spitting, etc. In reality, the most he resisted was by holding his arms stiff to not allow cuffing. Yes, this is resisting, but he did not ever pose a physical threat other than his physical size. So, as I see it, Tumua used tremendous restraint and excellent choice during this altercation. The only thing he could have done better was to just comply immediately. Which, to be honest, if police officers approached me out of the blue and told me I was under arrest, I am not so sure I wouldn’t have been a tad resistant.

Would my resistance, at 5’1” and a much smaller weight have been tasered, too? I think not. I believe officers could have used other methods to apprehend this “awful” criminal. In fact, I know they could have. They could have gone through administration, called him quietly to the office, could have used other take down techniques, but instead used a taser, which is supposed to be used as a last resort. Hmmm, makes me wonder. Out of all this, what I would propose we all try to change for all the schools in Hawai‘i, is the way the officers apprehend students, no matter what age. Things could have been much worse, but at no time (unless the student has a weapon or is a drug-crazed maniac) should the police just be able to come to our campuses and arrest a student in this manner. There should be a protocol to follow, and just because they are police doesn’t mean they can do what they want.  

So, the two points I want to leave this message with are: Please don’t judge Tumua from the media’s and police point of view. Do we know if he is guilty of the charges outside of school? No, but when the arresting officers chose to come to our campus and make it a campus issue, he put all of our students and faculty in danger. We all know there are much more violent and wanted criminals on our island, and they aren’t out there causing a scene and endangering children to apprehend them, and this could have been handled much differently.

Second, I just want the island people to know that the Tumua we know at Kapa‘a High School is an upstanding young man who has learned some lessons the hard way, will continue learning and will become a positive contributor to our community. We have all made mistakes and, unfortunately for Tumua, his mistakes have been made public.

Tumua, if you read this, know that we are proud of all you have accomplished both academically and athletically. Don’t let this setback hold you back from achieving your goals and dreams. This will pass and you will be stronger from growing through it. I am proud of the young man you are becoming. Keep positive and know you are loved and supported by your family and your Kapa‘a family.

Cheryl Pahl, Kapa‘a

Bah, humbug

I found it interesting that another popular character who resonated with Mr. Christiansen’s (Letters: April 3) aversion to a “Christian” holiday being forced on unbelievers used the identical expression in his complaint: “A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every 25th of December.”

That character is, of course, Mr. Scrooge.

Rick Bundschuh, Lawai

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