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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 20, 2006

Radford teen helps others feel at home

By Rod Ohira
Advertiser Central O'ahu Writer


Age: 17

School: Radford High

Grade: 12

Who helped you? "My mom (Tracy Price-Thompson) because she's retired military, went through hard times and came out a better person. She reminds me every single morning, 'First things first, do the most important thing first. Then if you have time for anything else, do that.' "

What advice would you give to other kids who would like to follow your example? "Don't be shy (about making good choices), if you want to do something just do it. Don't be a follower; it won't get you anywhere."

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Kharyse Thompson

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At Radford High, welcoming new students happens not only at the beginning of the school year but sometimes every other week.

Sixty-five percent to 75 percent of the school's enrollment is military, mostly Navy and Air Force.

Kharyse Thompson, daughter of Army Master Sgt. Gregory Thompson and retired Army Capt. Tracy Price-Thompson, is among 10 volunteer student facilitators who welcome new Radford students, show them around campus and familiarize them with rules and lifestyle in Hawai'i.

"We try to make them feel comfortable and make a point to eat with them at least once a week," Thompson said. "We do it because we want to do it.

"It's all about meeting people. When people walk up to you with smiles on their faces and are willing to talk to you, it makes it easier to let down your guard. Last school year, we had hundreds of new students from all over, like Germany, Brazil and the Philippines."

Thompson, the second youngest of six children, said the lifestyle in Hawai'i and atmosphere at Radford is much different than other places.

"I love Radford," said Thompson, who came to Hawai'i four years ago from New Jersey. "There are no groups of people here that rule the school.

"In Hawai'i, we have a culture that's less cliquish. There's less emphasis to fit into everybody's mode. Like New Jersey, everybody had to wear a certain kind of shoe or not be in. I was talking to someone in New Jersey who asked what kind of shoes I was wearing and I told them slippers."

She plans to pursue a doctorate in either pharmacy or physical therapy.

Three of Thompson's siblings attend college: sister Erica, 20, a senior, and brother Kharel, 18, a sophomore, are honor students on scholarship at Washington University in St. Louis, while another brother, Gregory Jr., 19, is a sophomore honor student on scholarship at George Mason University.

Her eldest brother, Kharim, 23, is in the music business and younger sister Khaliyah, 11, is a sixth-grader and student body president at Mokulele Elementary.

Kharyse has a 3.47 grade-point average and a senior course load that includes advance placement chemistry, physics, human physiology and trigonometry.

She's also a returning hurdler, who placed third in last year's state high school meet, and is close to earning a black belt in karate.

Reach Rod Ohira at rohira@honoluluadvertiser.com.