The Year in Hawai‘i's Public Schools Hawai‘i State Department of Education | 2017

January 2017

Molokai High dedicates new science building to accelerate STEM learning.

The new facility at the island's only high school will provide state-of-the-art teaching tools for Molokai's 9th through 12th graders and includes two science labs for Physics, Biology and Chemistry classes and a teacher prep room.

Mililani High student and teacher selected for prestigious Normandy Scholar program

​Mililani High School student Travis Afuso and teacher Amy Boehning were accepted into the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Student & Teacher Institute, joining 14 other student and teacher teams from across the country to learn about D-Day and World War II, and traveling to Washington D.C. and Normandy, France as part of the program.

Mililani High history teacher Amy Boehning and student Travis Afuso.
Pearl City High School students were the first 16-year-olds to donate blood in Hawai'i. It was one of the school's most successful turnouts, thanks to the efforts of the Alpha Pi Health Services Academy, its generous students & the Blood Bank of Hawaii.

February 2017

Edward 'Skippa' Diaz Stadium at Kusunoki Field is dedicated on Feb. 23, 2017.

Farrington High celebrates the opening of the Edward ‘Skippa’ Diaz Stadium at Kusunoki Field

​Governor Wallace Rider Farrington High School celebrated the highly anticipated dedication ceremony of its Edward 'Skippa' Diaz Stadium at Kusunoki Field in front of a crowd of more than 2,400 students, community members and dignitaries. The $19.5 million stadium includes a new locker room, laundry and equipment rooms and athletic training room.

Scenes from the dedication ceremony of Farrington High's new stadium and sports field.

Ewa Makai Middle student recognized as top youth volunteer

Emma Tandara recognized as top youth volunteer in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for her efforts to promote recycling at her school and in the community.

"Though my grandmother couldn't stay forever, the work I've done in her spirit has become something that can." — EMMA TANDARA

Two teachers awarded education 'Oscars'

Masaru Uchcino, Momilani Elementary.
Kelly Sutcliffe, Jefferson Elementary.
Two teachers in Hawai‘i win the Milken Award, the "Oscars of Teaching." LEFT: Kelly Sutcliffe, 4th grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary. RIGHT: Masaru Uchino, 3rd grade teacher at Momilani Elementary.

It doesn't happen very often, but a teacher from Momilani Elementary and another from Jefferson Elementary became the latest recipients of the coveted Milken Educator Award. Regarded as the "Oscar Award of Teaching," the award honors outstanding excellence in education and comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize.

Hawai‘i top in nation for K-12 broadband access

Hawaii's public school system is the top ranked school district in K-12 broadband connectivity according to the State of the States annual report released by Education Superhighway, an advocacy group dedicated to upgrading Internet infrastructure in K-12 public schools.

From 2010 to 2015, the Hawaii State Department of Education increased its broadband at schools from 0.3 gigabytes/second to 8.0 gigabytes/second, part of the Converged Infrastructure Initiative to deliver campuswide WiFi to all schools. This was an undertaking by the Hawaii DOE's Office of Information Technology Services and Office of School Facilities and Support Services. The initiative would affect 255 schools and more than 170,000 students.

Students from Nanakuli and Kapolei High schools earn research time at the Canada France Hawaii Telescope as part of the Maunakea Scholars program, Feb. 2017

After a thorough selection process, the Maunakea Scholars Program has awarded students from Nanakuli High School and Kapolei High School with observing time on several Maunakea telescopes to support their astronomical research, in Year 2 of the collaboration between Maunakea Observatories and the Hawai‘i State DOE.

March 2017

Kaʻala Elementary fourth grade teacher Kaitlyn Huff was honored as the state winner of the prestigious Teacher of Promise Award from the National Milken Educators of Hawaii.

10 Hawaii public school students medal at national art program

Kathleen Acasio, Leilehua High senior, earns the prestigious American Visions Medal for her photograph, "Halloween," in the National Scholastic Art Awards program.

Report shows post-high-school readiness on the rise

The College and Career Readiness Indicators Report for the Class of 2016, from the Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education, shows that Hawaii students continue to reach higher levels of achievement, with more students taking college-level courses while in high school and graduating with college credits.

Hilo-Waiakea: ‘We’re a K-12 entity, not 13 different schools’

Hilo-Waiakea is outperforming the state average in dual credit enrollment and credits completed, in Career and Technical Education concentrators, and in reducing remediation in English and Math.

The Hilo-Waiakea Complex Area is a standout in this year's College and Career Readiness Indicators (CCRI) report. Two-year data trends show both high schools among the leaders in boosting readiness through early college, CTE concentrators and major remediation declines. Educational leaders point to a K-12 construct that's beginning to deliver results.

April 2017

Connect to Careers (C2C) Coalition launched with Hawai'i's education and business partners.

Connect to Careers (C2C) launches

HIDOE announced its Connect to Careers (C2C) coalition alongside business and education partners including the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and the Hawaii Carpenters Apprenticeship and Training Fund. The initiative is designed to collaboratively prepare students for success in high-skill, in-demand career pathways.

​The Hawaii Elementary and Middle Schools Administrators Association named Nelson Shigeta from Makaha Elementary School as the 2017 National Distinguished Principal.

Front row, from left: Nelson Shigeta, Laura Vines, Darlene Javar. Back row, from left: Gay Kong, Kim Mukai-Ontai, Alison Higa, Jason Yoshida, Greg Nakasone.

New building dedicated at Ewa Elementary

Dignitaries and students celebrated the opening of Ewa Elementary's new building on April 25.

The one-story building provides three kindergarten classrooms, three first grade classrooms and one special education classroom, along with a technology lab, a faculty center and a conference room.

May 2017

Free meal program expanded to 52 schools

HIDOE expanded a USDA free meal program, called the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), from 30 public schools to a total of 52 across the state. The CEP program allows a school district, a group of schools or a single school to serve free meals to all students even if they do not qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch reimbursements. View map.

In 2017-18, 52 HIDOE schools are serving free meals to students through the CEP program.

New partnership with Tahiti schools

After implementing nearly four years of lessons connected to the Worldwide Voyage of Hōkūleʻa, HIDOE established a partnership with Tahiti schools. The agreement was established during a meeting that coincided with Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia's arrival in Tahiti.

Students in transition find pathways to success at Radford High

Radford High counselors, from left: Susie Honda, Krislyn Hara, Malia Kau, Pohai Aquino, George Sumida, Sarah Rippee, Lisa Johnstone and Erin Macedonio.

Radford High School students take and pass Advanced Placement exams, graduate high school and enroll in college at higher rates than the state. A strong team dynamic among staff and outreach with families are catapulting students to new heights. “The students themselves are promoting and compete in a college-going atmosphere on campus,” said Principal James Sunday.

Hawai‘i DOE receives national innovation award

The Education Commission of the States announced that the Hawai'i State Department of Education is the 2017 recipient of the Frank Newman Award for State Innovation. The award recognizes a state for education improvement efforts that are replicable and hold valuable lessons for other states, as well as bold and courageous policies.

Waianae High’s Searider Productions will get a new home for its growing needs

The project is expected to break ground during the second quarter of 2018.

The 8,500-square-foot facility will include a new lobby, "makery space," three new classrooms, a flexible multi-purpose open courtyard that will be used for outdoor classrooms and to host gatherings, and more.

Hawai‘i graduates 10,101 public school students in the Class of 2017

June 2017

Design unveiled for Hawai'i's first vertical school

The Hawai‘i DOE and Alaka‘i Development unveiled the design for the state’s first vertical school at 690 Pohukaina Street. The elementary school will be part of a mixed-income, mixed-use development that also features rental residences and retail.

The site will face Mother Waldron Park and is being designed by WRNS Studio in collaboration with Ben Woo Architects. Construction is expected to begin in 2019 with the school and one of two residential towers being built in the first phase. The school is expected to serve up to 750 elementary students.

Transition centers initiative in honor of Mark Takai launched

Takai Transition Centers will feature a pledge welcoming all transitioning students and recognizing military-connected students and their families.

In partnership with Hawaii 3Rs and the Military Affairs Council, the Hawai‘i DOE announced an effort to develop high-quality transition centers for Hawai‘i public schools. The effort is in honor of late Congressman K. Mark Takai, who was a staunch advocate for Hawaii's students and supporter of military-dependent students throughout his career. School Transition Centers provide a safe and stable foundation for all students, particularly newly arrived military-dependent students, offering peer-to-peer mentoring to help students acclimate into their school community.

Department makes progress with energy efficient strategies for cooling schools

Energy efficient cooling deployed at James Campbell High School, clockwise from top left: AC and electrical upgrades, photovoltaic AC, ventilated shade canopy, louvered and sealed windows.

The Hawai‘i DOE has been working to fast track heat-relief initiatives through its Heat Abatement Program. During the last three years, schools across the state were evaluated for various cooling options including air conditioning, ceiling fans, nighttime heat flushing fans, solar light, trees, heat reflective paint, and more.

Department addresses growing technology demands through IT initiative

After seven years of progress towards upgrading its technology infrastructure, the Hawaiʻi DOE opened its second data center at Hoʻokele Elementary School — an important milestone in its Converged Infrastructure initiative, which is focused on consolidating information technology equipment and services in order to streamline management and support statewide.

"During the planning process we put a lot of effort into the design of these centers. We incorporated energy efficient strategies and leveraged software that will provide additional flexibility for our systems that will allow us to adjust based on varying demand through the year."

July 2017

Leeward high schoolers use the summer to earn college credits

Participants in the Early College Summer Scholars Program.

Students from Wai'anae High and Nanakuli High & Intermediate took classes at the University of Hawai'i-West O'ahu as part of a new, intensive six-week program — the Early College Summer Scholars Program — earning college and high school credits along the way.

Solomon Elementary breaks ground for campus-wide renovations fueled by federal grant

Project partners break ground on the campus-wide renovation project.

1SG Samuel K. Solomon Elementary broke ground on a major renovation project to construct four new classroom buildings, a new playfield and new parking areas that will transform the existing campus and provide modern facilities designed to serve 1,100 students. The four-year project will proceed in four construction phases.

  • Phase I will demolish the existing open playfield and play courts near Trimble Road in preparation for building construction.
  • Phase II will construct three new classroom buildings, A, B and C, on the former playfield site with completion anticipated in Summer 2019. During that summer, school operations will begin using the new buildings in anticipation of the Fall 2019 semester.
  • Phase III will then relocate existing portable structures and construct new drop-off lanes and parking on the east and west sides of campus.
  • Phase IV will construct the final classroom Building D, demolish the present-day school buildings and construct a new playfield and play courts with completion anticipated in Summer 2021.

August 2017

Jaselle Amor Calimlim Valdez of Waipahu High graduated in 2017 with a biliteracy seal.

Thirty-seven Hawaii public school graduates have received the state’s first round of awards signifying they have mastered two languages. The inaugural Seal of Biliteracy — a bronze-colored metal medallion on a blue ribbon — was earned by graduates in the Class of 2017 at 13 high schools statewide.

Participating teachers praise the Beginning Teacher Summer Academy for the networking opportunities and providing tools necessary to help students.

Program gets new teachers ready for the school year

Almost 13,000 teachers head back to school a week ahead of students. For first-time teachers this can be a nerve-racking moment, which is why the Beginning Teacher Summer Academy (BTSA) has become a critical program to help them get started. The Hawai‘i DOE's Teacher Induction Center hosts the BTSA. The two-day academy provides first and second year teachers with training on classroom management; rules, routines and procedures; communicating with families; class and school culture; designing instruction; and more. There was also an academy specifically designed for special education teachers that provided training into the unique challenges faced by those educators.

Making 'shift' happen at Farrington High

There’s a lot of talk about empowering teachers to lead in and beyond the classroom, working with each other to boost student success. At Farrington High, administrators and teachers are two years into a focused effort to make teacher leadership a reality. As the administrators loosened the reins, trust has increased and, with that, a greater willingness among teachers to team up and take risks.

"If you have a system where teachers have the opportunity to grow and develop, with pathways to leadership and career growth, and the administration values and compensates us for that work, that’s how you elevate the profession in a way that matters.”

Joint Venture Education Forum highlights education partnerships with Hawaii’s military community

Forty-three military servicemen and women were recognized by JVEF for their dedicated volunteer work at Hawaii schools, serving as mentors for military-impacted students of all ages.

September 2017

Public school students see big gains on AP Exams

Strong year-over-year results on the Advanced Placement exam by Hawaii's public school students.

Hawaii’s public school students continue to show strong growth on the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) Exams. In a report released Sept. 26, Hawaii State Department of Education students who were tested last May show double-digit increases in the number of exam takers, exams taken and scores of 3 or higher.

Olomana School’s Rene Iwamoto, School Health Aide (center), was named HIDOE’s 2017 Employee of the Year.
The Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School Custodial Team was named HIDOE’s 2017 Team of the Year.

October 2017

The Maunakea Scholars program, designed to bring Hawaiʻi’s high school students into one of the world’s most advanced observatory communities, has dramatically expanded for the 2017–2018 school year to serve more local kids. This comes after a formal, collaborative agreement between the Hawaii DOE, the University of Hawai‘i's Institute for Astronomy, and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope to develop more opportunities for local high school students to use Maunakea Observatories for their innovative research projects.

Kaiser High School’s Media Communications Learning Center (MCLC) became the first high school from Hawaii to compete and win an award at the All American High School Film Festival in New York City.

Kaiser High first school from Hawaii to win international film festival award

​Henry J. Kaiser High School's Media Communications Learning Center (MCLC) became the first high school from Hawaii to compete in and win an award at the All American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF) in New York City. The short film "The Last Check" won in the category for Best Film Invitational 3 Day Shoot and Edit out of more than 30 other school entries.

​The Hawaii Association of Secondary School Administrators (HASSA) honored Stacey Oshio from Olomana School as the state’s National Distinguished Principal of the Year.

Stevenson Middle School and L.A. Clippers Foundation open a newly refurbished computer lab for students

Stevenson Middle School and the L.A. Clippers Foundation dedicated a newly refurbished computer lab before students, teachers and special guests, along with members of the L.A. Clippers Foundation and the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan also joined the dedication ceremony with a special appearance by the team's mascot, Chuck the Condor.

Students, L.A. Clippers' President of Business Operations Gillian Zucker, players DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, Vice Principal Sonja Samsonas and Principal Linell Dilwith untie the official maile lei opening Stevenson Middle's refurbished computer lab.

Waimea High School: Imagine Greatness

Great things are happening at Waimea High thanks to a staff who not only believes in this westside Kauai community, many of them are alumni who returned to teach and lead to help see this community thrive. They "bleed blue."

Ewa Makai Middle School’s Vanessa Ching named 2018 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year

"Vanessa has made a tremendous impact on the culture at Ewa Makai Middle as coordinator of Student Activities and Green Initiatives, teaching students to reduce their carbon footprints and that of the entire school."

— Superintendent Christina Kishimoto

"Developing a culture of environmentally conscious students, community members and parents, Vanessa worked to designate Ewa Makai Middle as a plastic-free school and won a refillable water station in a national contest with a powerful PSA."

— Ewa Makai Middle Principal Kim Sanders

In addition to Ching, Hawaii's District Teachers of the Year honored are:

  • Amanda Fretto, Kauai District, Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School
  • Francine Hughes, Maui District, Hana-Lahainaluna-Lanai-Molokai Complex Area
  • Gregg Iha, Central District, Leilehua-Mililani-Waialua Complex Area
  • Erika Kaneo, Hawaii District, Waiakeawaena Elementary School
  • Del Onaga, Windward District, Olomana School
  • Cristin Priolo, Public Charter Schools, School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability (SEEQS)
  • Naomi Salaveria, Honolulu District, Liholiho Elementary School

November 2017

New online tool provides greater insight on department progress

In an effort to make performance data easily available to the public, the Hawai‘i DOE announced the launch of its Strategic Plan Dynamic Report at the Board of Education meeting Nov. 7. The new online resource allows the public to view data across performance indicators identified in the 2017-2020 Strategic Plan.

Pauoa Elementary teachers, administrators and staff celebrate two years of strong growth in core content learning.

Pauoa Elementary: The little school that did

This small Title I school is at the epicenter of an academic earthquake. With high achievement results in language arts, mathematics and science, and a low achievement gap between students with high-needs and their peers, more students are getting what they need to learn at the highest levels at this school. Here's what they're doing.

Moanalua High, Moanalua Middle, Moanalua Elementary and Salt Lake Elementary were presented a generous grant of $32,000 to help continue their innovative K-12 Korean Language Learning Program for the 2017-18 school year from the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Consulate of the Republic of Korea in Honolulu.
Stevenson Middle School STEM teacher Patricia Morgan received a $100,000 grant from Farmers Insurance in a surprise award ceremony to the cheers of a school-wide student assembly.

Kailua Intermediate receives $250,000 to enhance STEM opportunities

The Department of Defense Education Activities has awarded $250,000 to Kailua Intermediate for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) opportunities and college readiness initiatives. The grant will help Kailua Intermediate support efforts towards STEM achievement, which will include in-class supports, tutoring and extracurricular STEM activities.

December 2017

Kaneohe El names building after former U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka

"My dad always tells us, 'You never stop learning. You always take advantage of the opportunity to learn even more. You learn here, you learn at home, you learn wherever you are and you use (those lessons) to the best of your ability."

— Millannie Mattson, Sen. Akaka's daughter

Schools across the state joined nationwide celebrations of Computer Science Education Week with more than 170 events.
"It's wonderful to see students and teachers get excited about Computer Science education, not just during this Computer Science Education Week but year-round," said Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto.

Army Natural Resources team members take Inouye Elementary School 4th graders on a virtual field trip up into the Waianae Mountains with discussion from field experts.

‘Tis the season for giving! All students at Kalihi Waena Elementary got a special holiday gift of new backpacks, containing crayons, notebooks and other school supplies, in a generous donation from PRMI Hawaii.
"Our staff at PRMI was so thrilled to see the excitement on the students' faces when they received their backpacks and gifts," said PRMI Hawaii Regional Branch Manager Nelson Oyadomari. "The spirit of giving is so important in our community and we're very happy to be able to give back to our keiki, especially during the holidays."

Waipahu student earns degree from Leeward Community College before graduating from high school

A senior at Waipahu High School is the first Early College High School student in the state to earn her college degree before graduating from high school. Rovy Anne Dipaysa earned her associate of arts degree from Leeward Community College five months ahead of her high school graduation.

"The vision for School Food Services Branch is to increase our local produce from 20 percent to 40 percent statewide," said Hawai'i DOE Program Administrator Albert Scales.

Hawai‘i public schools serve local beef in December

Hawaii public schools are serving locally raised, grass-fed beef in its hamburger patties during December. Elementary and middle school students will be served teri hamburger steak, while high school students will enjoy teri loco moco lunches. This is part of the Hawaii DOE's effort to include more fresh local agriculture in student meals. It is made possible through a joint partnership with the Lieutenant Governor's Office, the State Department of Agriculture, the Hawaii Cattlemen's Council and the Hawaii Beef Industry Council.

New special education teachers find their marigold through mentoring program

Marigolds are one of the best plants for companion planting — helping to chase away certain pests and improve flavor and growth of other plants like carrots, cabbage and cantaloupes. In teaching, these companion plants take the form of mentors like Tracy Muranaka-Ng who help nurture up and coming teachers.

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