Red Raiders tough to beat 'in court'
By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau
By Jan TenBruggencate
LIHU'E, Kaua'i — Kaua'i High School has pockets of excellence that might seem odd for a public institution on a small, mostly rural island.
An example is its dominance in mock trial, a competitive program in which students learn legal theories and challenge other students at trying cases. Kaua'i High's kids have won the state mock trial contest in nine of the past 10 years, and in a national competition last year they placed second behind a California high school.
The schools' students also regularly fare well in other statewide competitions. Physics students took first- and second-place honors in February's University of Hawai'i Engineering Expo.
"I think it's really an awesome school," said Kathy Morishige, herself a graduate and president of PAIRS-PTSA — the Partners In Support of Raider Students-Parent Teacher Student Association. She said PAIRS-PTSA seeks to fill the void for the school's 1,280 students at Kaua'i High, the only public high school on the island without an alumni association.
Among other things, it hosts luncheons, provides gifts to top students, breakfasts for sophomores taking national standards tests, support for graduation activities and other programs.
Principal Linda L.T. Smith describes the largest of the island's three public high schools as "a comfortable place to work."
What are you most proud of? "I'm proud of our students. They are caring and respectful individuals. Of course, we're a public high school, so we have our issues," Smith said.
Best-kept secret: Retired Gen. Eric Shinseki, former chief of staff of the U.S. Army, is a Kaua'i High graduate.
Everybody at our school knows: Larry McIntosh, the just-retired band director for close to 40 years, and the late Luka Goo, a well-respected school security guard, whom Smith referred to as "Mrs. Aloha" in her dealings with students.
Our biggest challenge: "We're trying to create smaller learning communities, moving away from traditional high school approach," Smith said. The communities approach involves clusters of students working with teams of teachers.
What we need: The small learning communities program demands additional funding, personnel and facilities, such as adjoining classrooms with walls that can be opened to bring classes together.
Projects: Students recently completed a project titled "Shattered Dreams" that addresses drinking and driving. To demonstrate the dangers of drunken driving, a mock traffic accident — complete with depictions of responding police, firefighters, ambulance crews and a team from a mortuary — was erected in the school parking lot.
Special events: Kaua'i High was the first on the island to conduct "Project Graduation," which addresses the problem of drinking, traffic accidents and other problems on graduation night. Students are bused directly from the graduation ceremony to an all-night party at the Kaua'i Marriott resort, where activities are supervised.
To get your school profiled, reach education editor Dan Woods at email@example.com or 525-5441.
Reach Jan TenBruggencate at firstname.lastname@example.org.