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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, November 29, 2001

Our Schools | Kailua High School
Program has teens gearing up for engineering careers

 •  Kailua High School at a glance

By Beverly Creamer
Advertiser Education Writer

Hawai'i may be lagging in science scores, but there are changes in the works.

Students Stuart Akagi, Ashley Shigaki and Meagan Fujimoto get a closer view as teacher Roland Tamaru displays an electric motor in his Kailua High classroom. The students' final project will be creating an all-terrain miniature vehicle.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

A program being tested this year at Kailua High School is pushing 28 ninth- to 12-graders into a pre-engineering curriculum that will prepare them for everything from engineering to automotive mechanics.

The new program, called Industrial and Engineering Technology, was developed last summer by 15 high school teachers, headed by Roland Tamaru from Kailua High. It creates a new curriculum in industrial and engineering technology, and is one of six new career paths designed for state high schools.

"It's heavy-duty science and math and technology, all put together," said Tamaru, whose kids are building electric motors at the moment. "Hopefully it will be throughout the whole state in the future."

Tamaru says this program is the school's best-kept secret. Only two other teachers really know about what the class is doing. "It's a hot topic because no one else is doing it in the state," he said.

Once Tamaru figures out what the "bugs" are in this fledgling plan, he'll make the fixes. Then the program is scheduled to be offered widely at Kailua in the 2002-03 school year.

The four girls in the class are finding it especially challenging, said Tamaru. "They normally push mechanical things away but they're creating better products than the boys. I guess they've got to show them one-upsmanship."

The biggest challenge for the kids will be the final project to create an all-terrain miniature vehicle, engine and all, in groups of four. "It will be a scaled-down model, about 12- to-14 inches long, with a fiberglass body, a motor, and operated with a joy-stick," he said. "They'll run it using telephone wire. They'll have to do a lot with suspension."

What are you most proud of: Tamaru said he's proud of the kids' accomplishments already. "Their problem-solving skills are beginning to develop, and they're working in groups so collaboration is taking place. That's part of working — learning to get along with your fellow workers."

The students are so excited about the final project "they want to make the car already," said Tamaru. Even he's delighted. "It got me excited," he says of the way the course is unfolding. "I should be slacking off (at 53, he's a veteran teacher) but I'm going harder than ever."

What's needed: Tamaru says he's doing it all with just two soldering irons and two multi-meter testing devices (to check ohms, amps and volts) for the whole class. "We need more. If I had seven soldering irons and seven multi-meters, each group could have their own."

Special event: When the parents are invited to see the completed vehicles.

"Last year, of my graduates, four went on to engineering school and four girls on to architecture school," said Tamaru. "It's just getting better and better.

• • •

Kailua High School at a glance

• Where: 451 Ulumanu Drive

• Phone: 266-7900

• Principal: Mary Murakami

• School nickname: Surfriders

• School colors: Blue and white

• Enrollment: 1,080, with capacity far higher. At one time the school had 3,000 students.

• SATS: The national norm is 54 percent scoring average and 23 percent scoring above average. At Kailua, the 10th grade math scores include 51.7 percent scoring average and 23.2 percent scoring above average for a total of 74.9 percent. Reading scores for 10th grade showed 56.9 percent scoring average and 22.3 percent scoring above average for a total of 79.2 percent. These scores are from the 1999-2000 school year as the assessment tests were canceled last year because of the teachers' strike.

• History: Kailua High opened in 1954 as a three-year school at the site of the present Kailua Intermediate School. A year later, it moved to its present location and over the next 21 years enrollment swelled to 3,000. To relieve the crowding, the school launched flexible modular scheduling; meanwhile, the state allocated money to build Kalaheo High. With the crowding relieved, Kailua went back to a traditional six-period daily course schedule. Currently, the school operates under school community based management (SCBM), serving four urban communities: Kailua, Maunawili, Waimanalo and Waimanalo Beach.

• Special Features: Kailua was in full compliance with the Felix Consent Decree by Oct. 31. It also met Gender Equity compliance in the 2000-01 school year when volunteers built a girls softball field.

Kailua High is a member of the Hawai'i Institute for Educational Partnerships, mentoring pre-service teachers, counselors and administrators studying for degrees or professional licenses. The partnership is sponsored by the University of Hawai'i College of Education and the state Department of Education.

• Special Programs: The Air Force Jr. ROTC program has received national recognition six times. Additionally, 60 businesses, agencies and other schools offer work-site placements for credit for students as part of the Career Quest Program.

• Computers: There are 325 in use schoolwide.