Every year, numerous school shootings appear on the news causing a mix of emotions such as pain, grief, shock, and the desire for stricter gun laws.
On February 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 17 people were killed while a few others were wounded. The 19-year-old shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was arrested and is currently in custody. Cruz had been reported by friends and family members for his violent behavior on social media and for possession of a gun but authorities did not take further action.
PBA senior Lisa Foo shared her class’s reaction upon hearing the news of the shooting.
“It made us realize that these people are our age and it could be any one of us at any time,” she said. “So we really learned not to take our lives for granted and that gun violence is a really serious issue that has to be stopped.”
One month after the shooting took place, schools across the nation participated in a 17-minute walk out to memorialize those who lost their lives and to demand stricter gun laws.
Some schools registered with EMPOWER, which is the youth branch of the Women’s March which provided tool kits for local student organizers. Over 2000 walkouts were registered with schools as far away as Ireland, Israel, and Mexico on the list.
Although PBA didn’t register, the seniors decided that the school should participate in this walk out and it was a student-planned event.
On March 14, 2018, students and faculty members of PBA went outside to give their respect. The event started off with senior Sheera Tamura ringing the Kanshyo bell 17 times for each life lost.
The ringing was followed by an oli that was chanted by a group of students and there was a moment of silence after. Later, the students planted sunflower seeds in pots that had each victim’s name written on it.
The seniors chose to include the planting of sunflowers since each seed represented not only the victims but their family as well.
“It’s a symbol of growth, you’re creating something new,” Foo said. “Even though they’re gone at such a young age, something beautiful is being created.”
After the event took place, students at PBA are continuing to stand up for their beliefs of improved gun laws.
Senior Aya Ikeda believes that those who are able to purchase a gun should have an annual mental health check and should be educated about their added responsibility before being able to purchase a gun.
“Gun owners should know and understand how important it is to keep their guns safe,” she said.
Foo believes that the problem with gun violence in the United States is closely tied to the low age limit of 18, which makes school shootings common.
“These weapons of destruction and death are so easily accessible especially by people our age,” she said.
PBA students are joining the fight for stricter gun laws by spreading awareness while nurturing the school’s mission of peace.
“Gun violence itself is the opposite of peace,” Foo said.
Dressed in stripes of black and white, the ball in my hands ready to throw up, my hand twitches in nervousness and excitement. I smile at the other official. The buzzer buzzes to get the teams on the court. One red, the other white. I signal to start the game by throwing the ball high and the ball is hit. I quickly get into position and the race to score has begun. Running to the baseline, I look at the players who quickly come down the court. One dribbling down the court with an easy pace, the other playing tight defense and making sure that the dribbler doesn’t get past her. I hear a whistle and I look at the official or the trail as he’s called. He calls a common foul on the girl who just played tight defense. She stands up from her defense position with a huff and sneer.
I merely take note on that and hear another whistle. Apparently the coach for white wanted a time-out. The girls run to the coach with expectations and with eagerness. Just then, my partner comes over and we chat about what we're going to do next. The first horn buzzes to let the girls know that they need to be on the court. Then the second horn buzzes. The ball is passed to me and I make it to the sideline. I blow the whistle to start the game and the ball is inbounded. I quickly get in position which is close to the free throw line. The ball has been shot, leaving the white team to inbound the ball and get the show on the road. The coach for the red yells to the girls to get the ball up the floor. I quickly run down and get to the baseline. I watch the play unfold where the post sizes up and the ball is passed to her. I quickly look for any type of physical altercations (hits, blocks, holds etc.). So far, none has happened. Then I see a girl in white, chucking the girl in red. I quickly blow my whistle and call a foul.
I explain to the scoreboard that the girl in white pushed the girl in red. I go to the spot where my partner is, which is on the elbow extended and nod to my partner to resume the game. The ball is given to the girl in red who is eagerly waiting for the ball so that she can inbound the ball to the open person. I watch the girl get the ball and square up for a three-point shot. SWISH! The ball falls in with a swish.
I hold up my hands like a touchdown to indicate that she made a three-pointer. The crowd roaring with cheers, the coach yelling at the players to play better defense. The girls in white quickly run up the court. The first quarter horn soon blows and it is off to the races. All ten girls race to their positions. The ball is inbounded with quickness and decisiveness. Shot by shot the time comes down to thirty seconds. “Last shot,” the coach yells. Ticking 10,9,8,7...the red jersey girl stops and shoots. *Clank* it hits the backboard.
Now, it is halftime…………coming out on the two-minute mark I quickly get into position for the last two quarters. The game starts with the white team getting into their defense and their defense consists of a 2-3 zone. A zone used to pack inside the paint. The red team quickly passes the ball and a layup is made. The ball is inbounded quickly to the white team and off they go.
They try shooting a three-pointer but it ends up being a brick. The white team grabs the rebound and puts up a second shot. The shot goes in. The red team grabs the ball and inbounds it. They quickly get up the floor and run their offense. The clock is at two minutes. The girl quickly spins around and shoots it. The clock dwindles down to fifty seconds, then thirty seconds..ten seconds and BZZZ the quarter has ended. The teams go to the benches, one being excited, the other being distraught. The buzzer buzzes and the last quarter has begun. The fans roar with happiness. Both teams do not want to go down without a fight.
The red team inbounds the ball and the game has started. The red team quickly run their offense. The crowd roared with cheering and happiness to the point it is overbearing. They drive to the basket with the intention to win. The girl jumps and tries blocking the ball from making it to the basket. The ball goes in and the coach yells at the girl to stay down.
The time comes down to four minutes… three minutes . . . it is getting louder and louder and soon enough to one minute. The ball is inbounded and the time is ticking down. The girl quickly moves up the floor and takes a three pointer, the ball hits the backboard and pops out of the basket. The game is finished and the team in white is mortified. They say their congrats and are in tears.
Papers and more papers to do. Everyone has to do their job in life. But how do we live with all these exact dates until they're due? Well there are deadlines for all of that.
I like to think of these deadlines as a timeline for my daily life. Deadlines are not just for papers, projects, and stuff. It could be the times you go to school on time. It could be when you go to bed. So I guess you could say it’s your own schedule of your daily routine.
As science instructor Van Velasco says, “The importance and purpose of a deadline is to teach you how to be on time and show that you are ready, it’s basically independence, but it also teaches independence for your future.”
But sometimes if you miss your deadline it’s okay. According to sophomore Alex Harman, “People need to understand sometimes work takes time. If you’re showing that you are late, sometimes there are extensions because people know it takes time to accomplish things.”
So deadlines help me to be a better person in life, to keep myself organized, and to show I’m always ready for what’s coming next. Deadlines will always be a part of everyday life because it is everywhere.
I always want to travel but there are specific times I need to get to my ride, like trains, ships, planes, and also taxis or buses. But there are also important moments that you don’t want to miss, like a huge job interview or presentation for a company, or when one of the most important people in your life gets hurt and you need to be there for them always. If you do miss your deadlines for these kinds of situations you will regret it for the rest of your life.
So don’t miss your deadlines even for the smallest things. But if you do miss them, just remember it’s hard to keep everything on time, just do your best to be there most of the time.
PBA’s Hoss Election results were recently released and the school is still buzzing from them. Student photographers are busy taking pictures of those selected for this year’s categories such as Most Peaceful, Meme King and Queen, and Persistently Tragic that will be going in the yearbook.
Senior Dillon Tsubota, who was elected for Best Buds with Kurt Villa, was grateful to be chosen for that category since they’ve been friends for years.
“I’ll look back through the yearbook and back into my past to remember I got voted as Best Buds with my closest friend,” Tsubota said.
A student from the senior class who requested to be named anonymous thought that some of the categories such as Class Eeyore, Most Likely to Roast and Be Roasted weren’t as friendly as previous years’ categories.
“Some of them were hard to place people to so it left you with only half honest opinions and other categories didn’t seem nice,” the student said.
Tsubota shares the same thoughts, but sees it as a part of growing up and the reason why Hoss Elections are enjoyable.
“Being able to laugh at yourself and laugh at others and poke fun at others is an important part of growing up,” he said.
Tsubota not only enjoyed the categories but how this year’s photographers gave students the option to do a pose that best represented their category.
“I think the photographers did really good this year with the shooting,” he said. “They really showed off the essence of the categories.”
New Hoss Election categories are added each year and the 2018 incarnation debuted Class Eeyore, Most Likely to be Prom Royalty, and Most Sarcastic. Some categories, such as Best Buds, Most Peaceful, and Best Gamers, are repeats from last year.
Alan Kubota, who runs the yearbook and photography electives, believes that the relisted categories “expresses the positive sides of our students.”
Kubota explained that Hoss Elections date back to the early 1960s, when they were called “horse elections” because the honorees would receive either blue, red, or white ribbons, just like horses. As time went by and the culture of Hawaii changed, the elections became known by their current name.
“Hoss elections is unique to Hawaii,” Kubota said. “It used to be known as horse elections and the reason is to recognize those who were outstanding.”
With a fascinating history, Hoss Elections are enjoyed by many in the school. It allows students to have a printed copy of what they were like in high school to look back on.
“It allows me to leave this school on a good note,” Tsubota said. “I know I’m going to remember this as a fond memory.”
Kubota pointed out that the elections also lead to a greater understanding of each other.
“It allows each other to recognize each other,” he said. “It allows me to see someone through a different person’s eyes.”
It is February of 2018 and I, Shala McKee, am dying.
The last few brain cells I had left have been sucked into the vortex created by statistics and the distinct brand of confusion that comes from trying to understand the social sciences. This is all courtesy of Steve (don’t worry I’m a senior so I’m allowed to call him that) who is notorious for making seniors question whether or not they really need a high school diploma to carry out their adult lives.
After a grueling six weeks of struggling to understand basic math -- much less statistics -- and delving into the complicated world of the social sciences, my brain is completely fried. Of course I’m not implying the class wasn’t beneficial, I just want to make it known that it wrecked complete havoc within my brain.
Now that my class and I are free and, hopefully, allowed to graduate, we are faced with the sluggish feelings that develop within the last few months at PBA.
Traditionally, after the seniors are released from the confines of stats/science they spend the rest of their time at PBA in a life skills class with Otake sensei. This course is known to be relaxing and features things like cooking and teach-ins, but this is not a luxury the class of 2018 is privy to.
The Otake family is welcoming a new baby this year which means all hands on deck, this is only fair because babies are a lot. Subsequently, Otake cannot be here to teach the first cycle of his life skills class, leaving the fate of the seniors in the hands of the one and only, Joe Udell.
He has decided to get the seniors immersed with the outside world in the form of current events. Every morning we hold a socratic-like seminar, mostly student led, and then work on whatever small project Mr. Udell has assigned to us. This week’s extended project is podcasts with a group and topic of our choice.
At first, I thought the class would be easy, because, let’s face it, it’s not hard to have an opinion on all of the things currently happening within the world. Boy oh boy, was I wrong. It’s not that forming an opinion is difficult -- anyone who has known me for five minutes can tell you that -- but gaining the willpower to voice those opinions in a coherent manner is proving to be a challenge.
Depending on who you ask, I’ve never been a loudmouth in class or during the discussions that take place there, but I’ve always been involved. Nowadays, you’re lucky if my eyebrow twitches during the course of a discussion. It’s not that I’m not interested, it’s just that I truly, honestly, am lacking the brain power needed to contribute.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think a current events class is a fantastic way to prepare us for college but tell me, honestly, would you rather cook and go to the beach or learn about the utter dystopia our world is headed for?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
As it has only been a week since I left the world of statistics, I cannot be sure whether this damage is long lasting, but for the sake of my future, I hope it isn’t. Hopefully, I will be able to gain back at least half of my brain cells so that I can finish out the year with a bang. A bang is ideal, but I will be overjoyed if I can at least go out with an audible pop.
Please wish me luck because, as you can see, I’m going to need it.
"I could either watch it happen or be a part of it" -- Elon Musk
Elon Musk, the forty-six-year-old South African-born inventor, innovator, scientist, and entrepreneur is pushing boundaries and accomplishing things like no other through his several companies. Along with Tesla and SpaceX, he is the founder of Zip2, Paypal, SolarCity, Hyperloop, Open AI, Neurolink, and the Boring Company, and has amassed a net worth of around twenty billion.
Elon, the man of many dreams has always and still is thinking about the future and how he can positively mold it. Often times, his outlandish ideas are cast aside until Musk does what Musk does best . . . the impossible. Ideas like making payments online, building spacecrafts to orbit earth, having electric cars function fully without compromises, and a private company building the world’s most powerful rocket were all fantasies not too long ago, but Musk brought them to life. He’s got a resume like a Cinderella story, accomplishing the type of things that you’d read about in futuristic fantasy books or see only in the movies.
Tesla was Musk’s massive breakthrough. It popularized his “Paypal co-founder” status and brought his then-underrated name into the forefront of the convoluted clean energy industry. When it debuted on the stock market in 2010, it brought the recently divorced and near-broke Musk up to a two billion dollar net worth within two years, making him one of the richest people alive. When Tesla was originally founded in 2003, it had only one mission: to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
Fifteen years later under this one, open-ended goal they have managed to create five fully electric vehicles that leave behind zero emissions. These self-driving vehicles are all groundbreaking -- the “Roadster,” for example, can reach sixty miles per hour in a record-breaking 1.9 seconds, proving that electric cars can function with zero compromises. Not to mention that the new “Model 3” is releasing at thirty-five thousand dollars, keeping it on par with gasoline cars of similar builds.
Now Tesla focuses on energy in general, not just electric vehicles, which gave them reason to create solar panels, solar roofs, powerwalls, and even portable chargers, all for household and large-scale usage. Tesla is breaking down barriers, no one can deny that. They’re a pioneer in the clean energy industry, like horses dashing ahead with a chariot bolstering Musk at the reigns.
Speaking of bolstering, Musk’s bigger and more ambitious company, SpaceX, has made history once again after they successfully launched and landed the heaviest and first reusable rocket ever at sea. The production of a single rocket costs around sixty million, but the reusable rocket only needs to be built once -- at the same price -- with only two hundred thousand dollars needing to be spent on gas and exchangeable parts in between launches. Musk has produced a heavy rocket with a low price -- something that NASA and other spacefaring companies have failed to achieve.
This wasn’t the company’s only accomplishment, however. In 2010, SpaceX became the only privately owned company to return a spacecraft from low orbit. They also delivered cargo to and from the International Space Station in 2012 and, just last year, they successfully achieved the first reflight of an orbital class rocket. Victories are never handed over, however, as SpaceX has failed more times than not. In 2006, 2007, 2008, 2015, and 2016, SpaceX’s launches ended in a fiery failure -- the worst exploding within thirty-three seconds. But failures don’t stop Musk, to this day nothing has and nothing will. He accepts failure and realizes that it’s all a part of life, stating that “failure is an option. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
Like his companies, Musk himself has only one goal, which is the future. He lives and breathes it. It provides him with the type of drive that few are born with and a purpose that even less are able to consider. The future is where Musk hangs up his coat, it’s where his head is. It’s why he works hundred-hour weeks and never takes off, it’s why he never accepts a mandatory paycheck from Tesla, it’s why he still makes time for his five children, and it’s why he continues to get up, push forward, and innovate even after he’s fallen. The future is why Musk creates his unprecedented companies and those companies are the reason why, despite being against prolonging human life, he will continue to push boundaries and live forever as one of the most innovative individuals ever.
The following vignettes were written by eleventh-grade students as part of a language arts assignment centered around Sandra Cisneros’s seminal novel, The House on Mango Street. Students wrote fifteen vignettes about their lives and, like Cisneros’s, some of them are nostalgic, wistful, contemplative, and hopeful. All of them are personal.
Home Atop the Hill
I always felt slightly uncomfortable when I visited my grandpa’s care home. It was plagued with the scent of sickness and blended food, and it seemed as if time passed by infinitely slower behind the walls of the building. It’s funny, how a place that seems so lonely can be in such a beautiful place, atop a hill lined with houses on both sides, a hill so steep that while you're driving to the top, you feel as if you're heading up a ninety-degree angle.
My eight-year-old self didn’t understand the importance of having conversations with him, even if he couldn’t say anything back. My eight-year-old self wasn’t aware of how frustrated he was because he couldn’t move, or speak his mind. My eight-year-old self didn’t know that he was well aware of everything that was going on around him, except it was like someone pressed mute and he was frozen. I wish I could have heard his stories and known more about him, because he was more of a stranger to me than some of my acquaintances. I wish I could have listened to anecdotes about his time in the 442nd regiment during WWII, or about his life in Long Island during the 50’s and 60’s with three kids and an abundant amount of animals that were adopted after being found abandoned, or in random places like the freeway. It was only when he passed that I learned the most about his story. Listening to the eulogy and watching old home videos that were salvaged from disintegrating film reels. I got to hear his voice, to see him as a young man, riding a bike up and down the driveway, with a little boy, my dad, in the basket.
나비. That’s what they called me in Korean school. It means butterfly and I’m not sure if it was a coincidence or if they knew that butterflies were my obsession. Being half Korean, the teachers looked at me with a strange look when I said that I didn’t have a Korean name. In Asian cultures, you usually have a name in that language along with your English name. My middle name is also my Japanese name, so it would only be fitting to have one for my Korean side.
It seemed as if I was the only one who didn’t have a Korean name. I started to feel “different”. Not knowing why at the time, I told everyone that I wasn’t really Korean. I figured that would be easier than explaining why I have a Japanese name and not a Korean one. Although I looked like everyone else in that classroom, I couldn’t understand what they were saying to each other and no one bothered to fill me in on anything since I could only speak English.
I wasn’t only convincing everyone else that I wasn’t Korean, I started to believe it myself. Feeling different in a group of people who are supposed to make you comfortable made me hurt on the inside with an unfamiliar feeling. I had two options: work hard to learn and try to fit in or just keep pretending that this culture didn’t have an effect on me.
Hale of a Hillside Dammeh
Ualehei st., where the shenanigans take place. The youngin, humble and supports and looks after his own. Moving from house to house, young kanaka, born and raised hauula, countryside, country was what he woke up to, what he once knew. He knew country like the palm of his hand. Moving to a different hill messed up his thoughts about being simple and self sustaining. 18yrs n pushin, making sure he can provide for himself, and him to be able to look after his ohana, much like his ancestors had in the Hawai’i of old. Understanding that he can’t have what he always wanted is tough for him even to this day, to wake up, and not see what he longs to see. His family, as one, heartbreaking to the human mind of this youngin. Family is first for him, seeing that happiness in his eyes, making sure he can make it through the next day with his head high, like a dog happy to see his owner after a offisland trip. A whole different setting than what he was onced raised. He always keeps it positive cuz in the end, ohana means family, family is everything. Even if it means to part to get his education during the week, returning home from work to the ones he loves and cares for.
The Adult’s Table
The adults table. No more loud annoying children begging for my last slice of pizza, no more infantile discussions and greatest of all I get to sit with Suzie who is a grade above me. Once every year my parents get together with their friends from high school and their kids. Usually it’s a drag and especially when Suzie no longer sat on the kids table it was nearly unbearable but finally at long last tonight is the night that Suzie and I can reunite. She looked very different since I’d saw her last year. The kids table was set up as it usually was with one spot open being where I once sat. I sat down and Suzie sat down directly across from me. I acknowledged her but she was too busy on her phone or something like that. As the night went on I felt more and more out of place. Conversations that ranged from the normal how’re the kids to complex topics such as politics. But then the topic arose -- Suzie. Suzie was questioned about her daily endeavours and the topic of a relationship came up. “She has a boyfriend,” I heard those words and sank into my seat. Not only was this table not fun, not only did Suzie have a boyfriend who by the way is way more masculine and good looking than I am, but the kids table looked like a blast. They got chocolate cake and even had their annual food fight. I don't want to be on the adults table.
I want to escape from suffering by golfing. My suffering comes from my feeling "can not, hard to do, or don't want to do it." I have no choice to quit golfing, I have to continue playing. That's the reason why I came to Hawaii. I'm mentally bound by this reason. I want to escape from this feeling and be more comfortable to live life. I think the only way to escape from this feeling is when I get old enough and stop playing. There is no salvation if I continue playing. But I'm still happy with my life because I'm able to continue playing golf -- not everybody can go to a foreign country to do this, even if it's painful. If people take away golfing from me, I will have nothing with me. I think I will be like a cicada's shell. My world will be empty.
Dad Wrecks The House
My mom and dad argue a lot. Sometimes, I think they’re not meant for each other. When they argue, it’s loud, like two lions fighting for food. They argue about who is to blame for the house being messy, if I should be punished more, if I deserve going to the mall, whatever, you name it, they argue. Thankfully, most of those arguments are just loud, and usually don’t get violent. Until that one argument.
One day, my parents had another argument about our house being messy. The argument quickly escalated into shouting and swearing, as usual, but what happened next, I didn’t expect.
My dad broke down and had a massive temper tantrum. He knocked over the pantry shelf. The canned food, greasy chips, and the sticky contents of Juicy Juice cartons covered the floor. He threw many things everywhere, and there were bits of plastic and broken glass all over the floor. He pretty much wrecked the house. Mom sent me over to my grandparents’ house while she cleaned up after him.
I always anticipated the weekends especially when my grandparents were on the island. Ever since I could remember, my parents would take me to Chinatown to get everything we needed. We would start off in the plaza, going to the bookstore to get grandpa’s newspaper, placing all sorts of vegetables into our basket to bring to the cashier sometimes managing to sneak in some soy milk, buying half a pound of pork ribs and some char siu, eating dinner at our favorite restaurant while saving egg tarts for last, and ordering a few tea eggs to bring home. Chinatown was my happy place since not many of my friends understood my favorite foods, why I celebrated new years in February, and what the small bright red envelopes were for.
Some days, we wouldn’t eat at a restaurant and instead picked up from a small shop that looked old and run down, but was known for their meat. They served mostly duck and char siu, but they also had lunch plates available. My mom would park our car while I went to order. The place was usually busy and even from two stores away, I could hear the employees yelling the orders back to the customers or yells of see you tomorrow as customers walked out. Whenever I ordered, I had to make sure that no one cut me in line and I got used to their rude attitudes. There was one older lady who didn’t yell as loud as the rest and every time I went, she was the cashier. She always managed to put a smile on my face before I left.
One afternoon about thirty minutes before closing, I walked into the shop to order the usual. Listening to my footsteps as the ground changed from paved road to tile floors. The shop was empty and all I heard was the voices of employees talking about their rough week. It felt different since it’s usually louder than a zoo, but I guess I didn’t have to deal with any angry faces that day. When I looked at the employees’ table next to the cash register, I saw an older man whose face I’ve never seen before staring back at me with a playful grin. I decided to ignore him while the butcher sliced the meat for my order and the old lady threw a smile at me. Forcing myself to watch how the knife sliced through the duck with ease and in a blink of an eye everything had been finely chopped, ignoring how the man in the chair was still watching me. His rough voice broke the silence like nails on a chalkboard asking for my name. I looked at him and told him it hoping it was the end of the conversation since I couldn’t stay long. He asked where I lived and when it left my mouth, I watched as he stood up from his chair. My palms began to sweat because something about this man didn’t seem right and I started a countdown as I watched the butcher grab the car siu off the rack to weigh and cut.
That’s when he pulled me into a hug and I tried to search for the best way to leave this shop. It didn’t feel like a hug from my grandparents, parents, or even my friends. His hands felt like claws, trapping me until he finally let go. Still daring to smile as if it was what I wanted with his arm still around my shoulder. The old lady at the cash register told me that my mom was probably worried and all I could do was nod. As I left without a smile on face, letting out a sigh of relief as my feet carried me away, I knew that I could never go back. Never in a million years am I ever going back to that miserable place and when I told my parents, they never once asked me to place a single order ever again.
My grandma lived in Seattle so we would go to visit every year. I loved going to my grandparents house because they own a big amount of land and have a garden that you can go play in. My grandma grew so much plants that I never seen in my life. That garden is where I saw my first apple tree. It was a really a place where you could be one with nature and be happy. You could hear birds chirping and see them go to the bird feeder. I’ve never seen such pretty birds in person before.
I have many great memories with my grandma. We went hiking with her to see snow for our first time. The snow we found was a small amount that was dirty and hard. She was always smiling and having fun. Later on we found that she had ALS and she was going to pass away soon. It was really crazy how she went from so happy and healthy to find out that she's going to die.
We visited her one last time and made sure to have a good time. We did the usual playing in the garden and feeding the birds. I was really crazy back then and I was imitating a bird jumping around the house. I totally forgot that she was going to die and I enjoyed myself. At the end of the trip everyone was crying and I was happy that I heard she laughed and had a fun time watching me imitate a bird. I didn’t cry but I almost did.
I know where to find the best sunrises and where to find the best sunsets. I know when the waves will be small and I know when they’ll be big. I know how to make an imu and I know how to pound poi. I know how to say prayers in Hawaiian and I know all about this state’s Hawaiian past. I know how to surf and I know how to make leis. I know where to go in case of storms and floods and I know which hiking trails to take to see certain places. I know where to go to buy everything I need and I know where to go to get stuck in traffic for hours. I know where to buy the best spam musubis and I know where to buy the best loco mocos. I know Hawaii so well because it’s all I’ve ever known. I need to experience new things and travel. I need to know more.
The sky is always so nice to look at in Hawaii, light blue skies and clouds for days. Even when it's super cloudy or it’s raining the sky is always nice to look at. To me the time when the sun sets and the moon rises is my favorite time of day to look at the sky. The beautiful gradient of yellow, orange, blue, and then black. The island is nice at that time too, everyone beginning to settle down and go home, daytime animals begin to go back to their habitats and the crickets and other nocturnal animals come out, the air begins to become a nice cool breeze. Everything is better at that time.
The best place I feel that I can experience the sky at this time the best is the highest place I can reach in my house. Stairs and ladders aren’t needed, rather just a hop out my bedroom window is all I need to do. One story up is high enough for me, for it's all I need to get away from everything. It’s not like I’ll do it all the time but I’ve done it enough that I have a beach chair out there. I mostly go out there when I’m home alone.
All the times I’ve been up there, sitting down, looking up at the sky, getting lost, there was nobody. I could hear nothing for miles. There were no sounds of cars passing, no one in their houses or walking the valley, no soaring birds chirping in the sky and wandering dogs scouring the streets, nothing.
Author's Note: I wrote this multi-part narrative to mirror present-day society and its class system that I feel by nature discriminates against those who are less fortunate. This story is set in Arimathea Spire in the year 2199. After nuclear warfare annihilates the entire planet, the remaining survivors are forced to form a new system of government. Their government revolves around competition, ranking, and skill; however, like in every competition, no one is equal. The story follows James Canton and Alisa Romandi -- two polar opposites who share a common belief that change needs to occur.
Arimathea Spire. Buildings upwards of a thousand stories each. The lower you are, the lower class you are. No laws are in place to maintain order, but if you’re rich enough you can have private armed security forces -- or P.A.S. -- to ensure your safety. For those less fortunate, life is much more than daily struggles, such as eating and drinking, but lawlessness and a society of seeing and taking. Thinking and doing.
“Who knows how those filthy animals live below us? Frankly, who cares?” Martin emotionally scolds his son in response to his question.
Martin Canton, father to James and Melissa Canton, and husband to Dana, is a top-floorer who despises those below him. He and all those raised on the upper floors of the Spire have been raised to fear and hate those below them. Stories passed from generation to generation have created the divide that separates them to this day.
“It just doesn’t sit right with me...” James half-heartedly says to his sister “...these people having to resort to killing to make their money … it’s not right and those who don’t kill are doomed from the start. But here we are living with all the money and power on the top.”
“I’m not saying it’s fair, J., but dad feels very disdainful towards the lower people and you shouldn’t bring it up again,” Melissa explains in a sympathetic matter. “I used to wonder why we were up here and they were down there suffering, but I had to stop because we can’t do anything about it.”
With his eyes now watering he says, “I’m not like you and I have to change this; I can’t stand by and just watch.”
He jumps up, pushing his sister away from the door front and runs to the counter, where his father's wallet is placed. Without a second thought, before his sister can stop him, James throws the wallet over the railing.
There are many problems in our world today, but we’re not the only ones suffering. There are several environmental problems such as global warming, pollution, natural resource depletion, overpopulation, and climate change that affect animals and natural resources. A search for solutions is always being done, but we could easily change our lifestyle to be more environmentally friendly.
To reduce the amount of pollution produced, we could be cautious of our actions and think about the impact of our actions. For example, use a reusable water bottle, go paperless, recycle, turn off the lights and tap when not being used, and cook your meals instead of dining out.
PBA has taken energy efficiency into consideration and took action, starting with the new building.
“The lights, for example, are LED, all of them in the school so they consume only a small amount of electricity compared to regular incandescent bulbs,” said head of school Josh Hernandez Morse.
The lights in every classroom automatically turn on when someone enters and turn off once they leave. Photovoltaic panels are expected to be installed soon; air conditioning is programed to only run during school hours; and hallways and the commons, where the students spend their free time, is cooled by tradewinds.
“In terms of landscaping we use a drip irrigation system rather than a pop-up sprinkler system which utilizes a lot less water,” Hernandez Morse added.
Recycling is a popular option in many schools and organizations. PBA started a recycling program a few years ago, but it proved unsuccessful, and questions abound on campus about how effective it would be to restart the program.
“If they put them on a barge and they ship them to the mainland, how energy efficient is that?” asked Hernandez Morse.
Science teacher Van Velasco, on the other hand, thinks that the act of being more conscious of how our actions affect the planet is important in and of itself.
“It’s a mindset,” he said. “You have to train your mind to be more environmentally focused and if you let go recycling, you’re letting go of a little bit of environmental focus.
The school did, however, complete a massive donation campaign during the move into the new building, which Velasco praised.
“We donated a lot of books instead of throwing them away, gave away a lot of furniture to HMS and the Betsuin temple versus just dumping it,” he said.
We share this world with other beings and resources are needed for our survival, but what happens when we run out of resources?
“Limited resources cause conflict, if people don’t have access to their resources then they feel threatened,” Velasco said.
Students share similar feelings about how we should treat nature. Junior Kaci Yamato believes that once we achieve awareness, then we can work together to solve the environmental problems we are facing today.
“Everything needs to be in harmony with each other,” Yamato said. “For us, we need to take care of the environment and the environment in return will take care of us.”
Every human coexists with nature, but we may not do or make the greatest decisions which hurt the environment. The damage will later affect us in a negative way, which is why we’re struggling to find solutions.
If the problem can’t be stopped, the destruction could be prolonged by making decisions that are environmentally friendly.
“If we don’t realize our connection to the environment,” Yamato said, “then we’ll never be in harmony.”
Every year, a new group of seniors is formed and given all of the responsibilities that come with that title. As a student who has been at PBA for three and a half years, and someone who has been a senior for almost six months, I’ve learned a thing or two. So here’s a list of advice produce by yours truly that I hope everyone from freshmen to juniors will find refreshing.
1. Be honest
Honesty is probably the easiest thing to preach but the hardest thing to practice. It’s hard to tell the truth to teachers and it’s even harder to tell the truth to friends. While people won’t appreciate it at first, especially when you’re telling them something they don’t want to hear, they’ll grow to value your honesty. I can’t even count how many times I’ve had a friend curse me out or just completely stop speaking to me because I told them the truth. From experience, I can tell you they all come back eventually. And if they don’t, do you really want to be friends with someone who can’t handle the truth?
2. Being quiet isn’t always a bad thing
Sometimes there’s nothing to say, sometimes there’s things you don’t want to say and that’s more than fine. You don’t always have to be the loudest or most outspoken person. If you’re usually like this, people might assume there’s something wrong with you. When this happens, it’s okay to tell them to truth. Sometimes you’re upset or you’re thinking or you really just don’t want to say anything. Let yourself be quiet, it’s not a crime.
3. Mind your own business
If I’m being honest, high school drama is juicy and can provide you with some of the best laughs of your entire life. We, including me, are all guilty of indulging from time to time. This is perfectly normal and widely accepted, but don’t make it your thing. After a while, sticking your nose in other people’s business isn’t fun, it’s just boring. There’s some things you just shouldn’t know and that’s perfectly okay. Minding your own business allows you to focus on yourself and enjoy a near drama-free life. Of course, you can’t relieve yourself of all drama, c’mon it’s high school, but you can significantly lighten your load by not rubbernecking. But hey, if you’re in the business of instigating drama for your own enjoyment because you’re a bad person then by all means, have at it.
4. Be observant
Being observant is a sure way to save yourself some stress and tap into the PBA environment. This can help you read situations and people. If you know how students, faculty, and teachers behave in certain situations you can become prepared for almost anything. Being observant is good and can provide helpful information, but just remember, not everything you observe needs to be shared.
5. Grades aren’t everything
High school is stressful enough without trying to be on your “A game” all the time. Sometimes you slack off and you know what? It’s not that big of a deal. Trust me, as someone who’s been accepted into a couple of different colleges, one or two C’s will not make or break you. Put in work, but don’t over do it and know that sometimes it’s okay not to do everything. Honestly, sometimes I don’t do my work just because I don’t feel like it. I’m not saying to do this (though this isn’t too bad every couple of months), just be aware that you can take breaks when you feel like it. Every cycle won’t be your best and that’s completely normal and okay. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
6. Stand up for what you believe in
In high school, people have a lot of different opinions. Some people will not share the same ones you do, either because they have different values or because they haven’t matured enough to seriously consider the subject. Don’t be scared to tell them how you feel. Change can only be cultivated through discussions. Be open to other opinions, but don’t sway your own unless you’re sure you want to. While it’s important to stand up for what you believe in, you don’t want to be overwhelming. Say what you mean and how you feel but don’t go around repeating it to everyone at PBA or getting in people’s faces over it. Most students respond when you tell them something calmly, albeit this cannot always be done when they say something knowingly ignorant. Use your own discretion about when and where to make people aware of your beliefs and don’t be afraid to go against not only students, but teachers as well.
7. Don’t make a lot of friends, make good ones
A lot of friends you have in freshman year will not transfer over to your senior year. This is okay because people grow and change throughout the years. Be careful about who you trust and what you say but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Be friendly with everyone, but know who your friends are. Don’t be afraid to get rid of friends that are toxic or really just aren’t affecting you positively. You get to choose your friends so don’t let anyone make you feel bad for the choices you make.
8. Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously
High school is stressful so if you don’t try to have fun you’ll have the worst four years of your life. Get to know your classmates and kids from other grades. Go out with kids from school and your advisory. There’s no reason why school friends have to be restricted to school. Have fun with your teachers and the faculty, they’ll respond positively if you approach them that way (most of the time; everyone has their grumpy days). You can’t have fun if you take yourself too seriously. You’re going to make mistakes and say dumb things, that’s just a part of the experience, so why linger on it? Allow yourself to have fun and be a kid. Make dumb, but not dangerous decisions, you’ll never get this chance again. Don’t be ashamed to be yourself and grow during high school and have fun while doing it.
Senior Shala McKee