WAIMEA — Principal Mahina Anguay and her staff are celebrating Waimea High School’s six-year accreditation following a positive report from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
“It was a year and a half process for us. It took that long,” she said. “We still have a lot to improve on, and I’ll be the first to say that. But the WASC committee had some really nice things to say. And to get six years, I’m so stoked about that.”
WASC awarded accreditation to Waimea High for its improvements in learning outcomes, college and career preparation for students and a rise in project-based learning. Anguay said it was a team effort.
“It kind of reinforced to us that the things we’ve started here over the last few years are being put into place and have a system that our kids are career, college and community ready,” she said.
Anguay and her faculty had to submit a report regarding the status of their school and lesson plans. State Department of Education Kauai Complex Area Superintendent Bill Arakaki called it, a “self study.”
“The school needed to demonstrate their capacity, commitment and confidence in teaching and learning, overall school improvement,” Arakaki said. “Anytime you get the six years, that’s a great thing. And it shows that Waimea High talks to parents, the community to verify what they put on the report.”
Accreditations are based on evidence contained in the self-study, including observations from a school visit.
While the review was mostly positive, Anguay was realistic with her expectations.
“One thing (WASC) did say was that we identified and owned our shortcomings,” she said. “We know that there are things that we still have to work on, but that’s what our academic leaders are focusing on.”
Anguay and her staff are already working on ways to improve the school.
Next year, ninth-graders will be enrolled in industrial, engineering and technology core classes. Anguay said exposing freshmen to different avenues of learning will help students think critically and creatively.
“We’re sending some teachers in a few weeks to a design thinking boot camp,” she said. “I’m looking at our students to learn something that they can come back and serve our community with on Kauai.”
The accreditation process was a stressful period for Anguay and her staff, but it motivated them to work harder, she said. Now that the school has accreditation until 2023, Anguay is confident her faculty and students will continue to earn positive feedback.
“I’m very excited about where we’re headed,” she said. “I think that our focus on project-based learning has really helped us understand that we really need to be thinking about the skills that every one of us are teaching in our classes so when they leave Waimea, they’re going to be ready.”