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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 26, 2002

Future leaders tackle search for Kalani's spirit

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Writer

Kalani High School students are struggling to find their spirit.

Members of Kalani High School's leadership club, from left: Zach Gregory, Erin Nakamoto, Lily Lam, teacher Diana Woitovitch, Kelly Katto, Cheryl Sakai and Sherri Navarres. Kalani students have seen a lack of overall school spirit, so the leadership club has set out to rediscover that spirit.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

They have individual class spirit, but as a whole, Kalani lacks schoolwide spirit, students say.

The 30 students in Diana Woitovitch's leadership classes want to do something about that. They're trying to document the history of the school. Its wins. Its losses. Its scholastic achievements. Its alumni. And its succession of teachers and administrators.

"The students don't know what the values of the school are," Woitovitch said. "They don't know where the school's reputation, that it's a good academic school, started. They need to know this so they can build upon it and make Kalani a better place."

At the end of the project, the leadership classes hope to present to the school a book rife with history that future students can flip through and feel proud, Woitovitch said.

"We don't have a place to go see the past," said Sara Doi, a Kalani junior and member of the leadership class. "We don't have trophies anywhere where we can see them. At Kaiser they have pictures of the individual winners on plaques in the gym, and trophies are in cases where students can look at them.

"I've never seen our trophies displayed. Some of them are in the office and they're very old."

The school has a trophy case in the main office, but it's only for club awards. A tiny case hangs in the gym for sports awards, but it hasn't been updated in about 10 years, Woitovitch said.

Senior Cheryl Sakai, a member of the leadership class, said the school doesn't have a good image among other high school students despite boasting the highest SAT scores in the Honolulu district.

The low "self-esteem," students say, is in part due to the school's lack of a home football field and the Kalani football team's record — 0-9 last year. Further, the school, which plays its games at Kaiser High in Hawai'i Kai, is barred from holding pep rallies on game nights because nearby residents have complained about the noise.

"It's the biggest sport, football, that we can't generate excitement over," Sakai said.

Kalani opened in 1958 — a year before Hawai'i became a state — in an area in which development was just beginning. Hawai'i Kai was a mere glimmer in the eye of industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, and students came from nearby 'Aina Haina, Kahala and parts of Kaimuki.

Today, the school, while not in worse shape than other schools in Hawai'i, is faded and plain compared to newer schools such as Kaiser and Mililani, Woitovitch said.

In the project, students have been assigned tasks to research. Some are talking to teachers and past principals about their recollections of the school. Some are researching records, and they're coming up with some impressive facts. Among them:

  • Outstanding Kalani alumni: Lenn Sakata, former professional baseball player; Cal Lee, former St. Louis football coach; Leslie Wilcox, KHON reporter; Pamela Young, KITV reporter; and Dalton Tanonaka, former business and financial news anchor and recent candidate for lieutenant governor.
  • Sports championships: girls and boys O'ahu Interscholastic Association Cross Country Champions 1971-74; O'ahu Interscholastic Association tennis champions 1973-1991 (girls or boys or both); OIA Volleyball champions 1972.
  • Scholastic achievements: Last year alone the school had five University of Hawai'i Regent Scholars, a National Merit Scholar and a UH Presidential Scholar. Kalani students won top prize for Oceanic Cable's Hi-Tech Quest; two juniors received the Harvard University Book Award and Wellesley College Book Award.

But despite what the students have turned up, they're having trouble finding people who remember the school, Woitovitch said.

The students hope that a questionnaire they are posting on the school's Web site will help. The site is still under construction, though, and in the meantime, graduates and former teachers and administrators can reach the leadership class at 377-7744, Ext. 263.

Young, a graduate of the class of 1966, said there was a lot of school spirit at Kalani when she was a student.

Even when the school was losing in football, students would go and cheer on the team, Young said. Fans would dress in Kalani colors — red and white — and carry homemade pompons made of wooden spoons and crepe paper.

"We'd always have the loudest cheering section," Young said. "Winning just wasn't the issue. We didn't go to win. We went to have a good time and to put a good face on."