Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 6, 2001

Our Schools
Stevenson Middle school enjoys easy rapport between staff, students

 •  Stevenson Middle School at a glance

By Adrienne Ancheta
Advertiser Staff Writer

Every day, groups of students at R.L. Stevenson Middle School casually make their way through the doors of the office building and, despite the added traffic and noise, administrators like it that way.

Christina Alfred, R.L. Stevenson vice principal, says she appreciates the diversity of students coming from Manoa, Papakolea and Makiki. Colleagues say Alfred is so respected that youngsters are intent on displaying their best conduct lest the vice principal see them in a bad light.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

Students use the office building as a shortcut between two large grassy areas during recess and are so comfortable there that they walk past the principal and counselors without even lowering their voices. It is a welcome sign that the school's adviser/advisee program is working.

The program is centered on a 20-minute period at the start of the day similar to homeroom but with more depth. The purpose of the time is to encourage bonds between adults and students.

Students and teachers discuss news, read and write during the AA period so children can connect with an adult to whom they can turn when anything happens in their lives.

The AA class also creates meaningful relationships for the adults. Vice principal Christina Alfred, who taught home economics and AA, took her administrative position in January but was reluctant to leave her AA class.

"I cried when I left them," she said. "I felt like I lost all these bonds."

What are you most proud of? Students at Stevenson come from Manoa, Papakolea and Makiki, giving the school a diverse population.

"They are representative of Hawai'i's culture," Alfred said. "They have to learn to accept each other, and I see that kids do have their cliques but they still work with each other."

Best-kept secret: A cooperative spirit among the school's support staff keeps the school running, according to acting principal Denise Arai. Staff members such as Roland Koki work behind the scenes, willingly preparing and supporting school programs such as May Day.

"You don't really notice them because they do their jobs so effectively," Alfred said.

Everybody at our school knows: Vice principal Alfred. She first came to Stevenson in 1996 as a home economics teacher and was asked to become vice principal in January because she was so respected, Arai said. Science teacher Alison Inouye said she heard some girls say they didn't want to misbehave at school because "they don't want Miss Alfred to see them in a bad light."

Our biggest challenge: Finding time to complete all the school initiatives. Along with working on improving reading scores and organizing intramural teams, teachers at Stevenson are preparing for the final stages of getting accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

"People have to stretch themselves," Alfred said.

What we need: "As we shift through the changes as a result of the Felix (consent decree) case, we need more support services for the students," Arai said. Arai would like to provide all students, not just Felix students, with support services such as behavior health therapy. "We cannot predict the kind of services students need, but we need to be able to provide those services."

Projects: Several projects at Stevenson involve working with the other schools it has partnered with in its complex: Roosevelt High School and Lincoln Elementary. The schools are developing cross-complex standards and have complex in-servicing for teachers to teach them how to assess writing. Each year the complex chooses a focus, and critical thinking is the target at Stevenson. This is the third year of cross-complex standards and meetings.

Special events: Besides graduation, band concerts, intramurals and robotics competitions, the school has a yearly artistic showcase of student work displayed throughout the campus. There are door prizes and a Hawaiian dinner for parents as they look over the student art.

"The kids are really proud of their work," Alfred said. "They'll have their parents come just to see what they've done."

• • •

Stevenson Middle School at a glance

Where: 1202 Prospect St.

Phone: 587-4520

Web address: www.k12.hi.us/~stevenso/

Principal: Acting principal Denise Arai, three weeks

School nickname: Buccaneers

School colors: Blue and silver

Enrollment: 550

SATs: Here's how Stevenson Middle School students fared on the most recent Stanford Achievement Test. Listed is the combined percentage of students scoring average and above average, compared with the national combined average of 77 percent. Eighth- grade reading, 81 percent; math: 89 percent.

History: Stevenson was established in 1937 as the only intermediate school with an English standard for admission until the standard was eliminated in 1957.

The school is a regular stop for storyteller Glen Grant's tours. His bus stops by Stevenson's cafeteria as he tells obake stories about ghosts in the Punchbowl area. A cigar scent has been reported to linger in the school hallways as the ghost of a cigar-smoking police officer roams the campus.

Special programs or classes: As the first school to begin the middle school concept, which emphasizes closer relationships between teachers and students, Stevenson's adviser/advisee program is integral to the school philosophy.

Computers: One computer lab and working on a second; at least one computer in each classroom.

To get your school profiled, contact education editor Dan Woods at dwoods@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-5441.