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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 2, 2006

A special student in Wahiawa

By Rod Ohira
Advertiser Central O'ahu Writer


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Age: 12

School: Wahiawa Middle

Grade: 7

Who helped you? "My grandma Leialoha Haleamau. When I was little, my mom and dad weren't always around and she was the person I could always talk to. She's my best friend. My grandma is sick and I know she won't be here forever but she taught me how to be who I am today."

What advice would you give to other kids who would like to follow your example? "Never let anyone hold you back from the things you want to do."

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WAHIAWA Twelve-year-old Angelica DeGuzman represents her seventh-grade class on Wahiawa Middle School's community council, is the student council historian and a cheerleader.

She's also been a special education student since the first grade.

"I'm in special education because I can't read good," Angelica said. "I can't sound out words mentally as well as I should. I have to hear myself do it.

"Certain people think students in special education just don't know nothing or are hardships but that's not true," she added. "Special education kids have certain problems. They call it special education cause it's for kids with special needs. It's smaller groups so a teacher can be there for you."

Angelica's aunt on the Big Island, Melody Pacheco, had similar reading difficulties.

"She taught me never to give up and to be open about things," Angelica said. "I want my parents (Allan and Alicea DeGuzman) to be proud of me so I try to make sure they don't have to worry about me in school. It might take me 30 minutes to read something someone else could read in 20 minutes but I know I'll do it."

The community council is made up of a student representative from the school's three grade levels, teachers and parents. Angelica said the uniform policy was one of the more difficult issues she wrestled with this school year. The council, which re-evaluates the existing uniform policy every two or three years, recommended it be continued in the 2006-07 school year, Principal Carol Price said.

"I don't like uniforms because I like being an individual," Angelica said, "but I thought it was good to do. It makes us one and some kids can't afford a lot of clothes. I've learned to look beyond what I think, that you have to go outside of the box and not always think about yourself."

Another issue is that Wahiawa needs a place for kids to hang out, said Angelica. The Boys & Girls Club of Hawai'i after-school program at Wahiawa Middle, which she attends, "gives you something to do," she said, "but there needs to be a place where every kid can go to cruise, just to talk or do homework, someplace away from your house."

Reach Rod Ohira at rohira@honoluluadvertiser.com.