The First HWS National Honor Society Induction Ceremony
"I pledge to maintain my high scholastic standing,
to hold as fundamental and worthy an untarnished character,
to strive courageously and intelligently to be a leader,
and to give of myself freely in service to others.
In so doing, I will prove myself worthy of a place in the National Honor Society."
Such was the oath taken by high school students inducted into the National Honor Society on January 22, 2013. The ceremony marked the establishment of the Honolulu Waldorf High School NHS Chapter, which is part of a nation-wide program for high-achieving students. Four pillars of excellence provide a foundation for the NHS: Scholarship, Character, Leadership, and Service. To become a member, students must demonstrate not only their commitment to success in these areas, but also a desire to challenge themselves. Additional requirements include a minimum of a 3.5 GPA, approval from the faculty, and submission of a personal essay. Inductees must also commit to organizing an individual or group service project to take place during the school year.
10 students from the high school are a part of the National Honor Society this year. After going through the application process and proving themselves worthy of a place in the program, Leilani Freeman (12), Sebastiano Bresolin (12), Annie Tang (11), Moe Lueker (11), Simone Potter (12), Pearl Corry (12), Tahni-jo Kakazu (10), Joshua Ching (12), Athena Iokepa (11), and Tsuki Tanahashi (11) walked the stage to accept their certificates of membership.
The ceremony itself was well planned and quite powerful. Each of the inductees were given a short introduction and called by name to stand. There were students from grades 10 - 12 with diverse and impressive backgrounds. As things got moving, inductee, Simone Potter (12), Sebastiano Bresolin (12), Pearl Corry (12), and Athena Iokepa (11) spoke about the four pillars of NHS. They said what these pillars meant to them and how they personally excel in these fields. Each pillar was accompanied by a performance of some sort. Simone played a cover of Beauty In The Breakdown by The Scene Aesthetic with Leilani Freeman (Gr. 12) on guitar as they both sang. Sebastiano, Athena and Pearl read poems pertaining to each of the pillars. To comment on his appreciation for the effort that each of these students put forward in being the best people they can be, Charles Au (HWS board of trustees member) gave a speech that was quite moving, ending by congratulating them on their induction. The new members received a pin and proceeded to to recite the NHS pledge. The ceremony culminated with the lighting of the candles. A candle was lit for each of the four pillars, then a flame was passed to candles that each of the inductees held in the dark room. This brought the ceremony to a close as the inductees walked out the room, one after another, in the candlelight.
Many NHS members have gone on to be very important and high figures in our country. Some have become CEOs, others hard working entrepreneurs, or even the President of the United States. There are many benefits to being a member, such as scholarship opportunities as well as simply just putting something a little extra on college applications to get you noticed. Members meet periodically and have to keep up their hard work to stay in the society. NHS is an amazing way to get oneself ahead and moving in the direction of success. We hope that many students will be part of the society and become leaders in the future.
Mr. Godwise is a man of much knowledge. He has guided us through many subjects and during this block he taught us Zoology. As is his custom, he tried to make this class as interactive as possible so that we would have a more engaging experience. He achieved this through bringing us to the zoo for a day. He took us to every exhibit and told us to watch the animals as he was telling us interesting facts about them. At the spider monkey exhibit for example, Mr. Godwise pointed out the incredible way the monkeys use their tail as a third hand. "Look at the way the spider monkeys know exactly where to put their tail. That isn't found in any other monkey species on the planet." he said.
For every exhibit we had the same routine; the class would watch how the animal would act in its environment provided by the zoo, and Mr. Godwise would tell us about the animals. While observing the animals we saw, we were required to sketch them as well! Being at the zoo allowed us to see the minute details of each animal. Drawing the creature showed us how different every creature is. From the boar, to the gator, and everything in between, all animals need to do in order to live is reproduce, eat, drink, and find shelter.
During this outing we learned a substantial amount of animal knowledge. It was definitely a nice excursion. Field trips are not possible everyday so instead of taking us to the animals during the rest of the block, Mr. Godwise brought the animals to us. On one of the first days of Zoology class, Mr. Godwise brought a cage filled with ferocious beasts. When he unhooked the cage, out zoomed four (Norvegicus Rattus) rats! Half of the seniors were excited to hold these small creatures, whereas the other half seemed uncertain. Some were concerned about their hygiene, and others were afraid of being bitten. We all learned that rats (particularly the Norvegicus Rattus species) are some of the cleanest creatures on the planet. They don't bite with the intent to hurt! As they climbed up the sinks and crawled around the desks, Mr. Godwise spent a good hour and a half discussing the importances of these rats and how they live.
During our many discussions we also spoke about the development of the human fetus and how it relates to animals. We concluded, due to science and observation, that the ecological embryo development is a replay of evolutionary history for the human being. The means that, as an embryo, we are first a small unformed substance, which blossoms into a fish-looking creature. After this process, the embryo grows to a particular form relating much to an amphibian. The evolutionary process continues in a developing mammal first, fingers begin to form, thus relating to both ape and human. This concludes that man, at the cellular level, is interconnected with animals in the embryo development.
The Zoology block with Mr. Godwise inspired many of us to deeply think this way about our everyday living. Animals also bring us more closer to ourselves as human beings, because human beings are a species in the animal kingdom. When we can relate to others, be it animals, people, plants and the cosmos, we relate to ourselves, and this is essential for a more beneficial World. Thank you, Mr. Godwise for your wide range of knowledge and generosity for sharing.
In January and February of their senior year, the class of 2013 went through a World Economics main lesson block. Going into this block, the seniors had the preconceived notion that economics was only about money and financing. They were pleasantly surprised when they entered the course and were confronted with the objective of developing a much broader and a deeper understanding of the field.
During the block we focused on many different terms used in the economic framework and acquired a solid and more philosophical idea of the meaning of economics. Leaving the math aspect to the math classes and concentrating on the ideology and practicality of what the world’s social structure needs, we came to an enlightening new mind set with respect to the broad topic of economics.
One focus of the main lesson was the concept of the Triple Bottom Line - an alternative ideal to the more prevalent “bottom line”. The Triple Bottom Line philosophy seeks to ensure the well-being of three elements of an economy: the health of the worker, the integrity of the environment we live in and are a part of, and an abundance of profit. This last goal is what is commonly known as the bottom line and what most companies today focus on to the exclusion of other principles.
Bill McKibben’s book “Deep Economy” guided the class through alternatives to the present ideal of perpetual, ever-accelerating growth, presenting the problems inherent in holding such a philosophy in a finite world and describing systems, some proposed and others already implemented, which provide models of sustainable economies: community supported agriculture (CSA), urban farming, Buddhist economics, and local currencies.
Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Waldorf school movement, was a prolific innovator in many fields, and provided more material for the main lesson to explore. His work in economics was particularly visionary and still, 90 years later, relevant to our time. His radical views on economics propose that all people have the rights to food, water, and an area of work to earn their livelihood. Steiner continuously relates economics back to nature and the human being, saying that all economic development begins with nature and agriculture. With economic awareness and self-regulation, Steiner’s model of Associative Economics presents important and useful solutions to modern economic pitfalls.
The main lesson did not take place entirely within the classroom: it included field trips to two farms on the island to expose the students to the atmosphere and systems of agricultural establishments. At Kahumana Organic Farm & Café in Waianae, the students received a tour of the grounds, including an overview the aquaponic system and produce harvesting process. The class then split up into three groups and had the opportunity to work on various projects around the farm, and, once the hard work was finished, to celebrate by going to the farm’s café and enjoying its delicious food.
The World Economics main lesson, unusually, was itself the destination of a field trip during its last week: the sixth grade, then learning about financing in their own course, joined the senior class as spectators. Two students reminisce:
“We remember being back in the Waldorf lower school, in our percentages and money management block, taught by Mrs. Cadelinia, first being introduced to the basics. We now realize that it was a foundation for what we learned in later years and now we are learning about economics, and it’s all finally coming together!” - Madison & Simone (HWHS seniors)
The sixth grade’s field trip took place while the twelfth graders were presenting their business plans: during the block, each senior was charged with coming up with his or her own hypothetical business plan, with the idea that it would potentially be put into action in the near future. This assignment engendered many clever and creative business plans. With the triple bottom line in mind, many of the students designed their businesses to be socially and environmentally sustainable as well as monetarily profitable. Some students, in fact, formulated businesses with the goal of social and/or environmental return rather than monetary revenue. The senior class is in agreement that this project - and the main lesson as a whole - was a useful and fascinating foray into the world of business, economics, and social engineering.
“Hurry up, hurry up...Oh, come on, you can do it...Just PRINT! No! Wait, is that the bell?” And an unfortunate student must run to class, unprepared.
“Story of my life,” said Paulina Birbari (12), reflecting on the difficulties of working with the ancient PC computers once housed in the High School Learning Resource Center. “One day it was the printers, the next day it was the internet connection...and sometimes I couldn’t find a mouse!”
It’s not that we didn’t appreciate the old Dells. They served us extraordinarily well, considering the fact that they were purchased for $20 each. After many years of use, they lost what little worth they had. It was due time for an upgrade. With a generous donation from the Gabriel & Alma Elias Foundation (Rachel, 12), we were able to make such an upgrade. The school purchased 20 brand new iMac computers just released by Apple six weeks earlier, along with 2 HD TVs. For the first time, Waldorf students can use new computers for their school work. They are fully loaded with top of the line software and each student has their own login information to save their work. There are no longer any excuses for losing documents or not being able to print. Many students feel that their learning experiences are enhanced by our new technologies. They are great resources for everything from looking up math problems to watching documentaries in English class.
The grand opening for our renovated Learning Resource Center was held on January 14 and was a great way to usher in the new year. Kumu Wong led the students and faculty in a blessing for the new space. The room was beautifully decorated with framed student artwork, maile lei, new curtains, and fresh paint. We had the opportunity to thank the Elias family and witness the renaming of the lab as The Gabriel & Alma Elias Learning Resource Center.
In speaking to the students about the new computer lab, Mr. Starzynski stressed the importance of using technology wisely. “We don’t want the students to just use the internet. Certainly you have been using the internet for long enough. We want you to understand it thoroughly and thus harness its power.” He went on to describe how the new iMacs will allow us to take our creativity to a new level. “We will do this initially through multimedia journalism by adding to the school’s new website. This will include not only writing for the web but complex photo and video editing as well. Future classes will include website and web app design and creation.” Thanks to the Elias family, this is possible.
High school students have responded to the grand re-opening with enthusiasm. “The new computers motivate me to work hard on my projects because they are so easy to use,” said Leilani Freeman (12).
“Instead of spending time trying to fix technological problems we are getting our work done,” said Josh Ching (12). “We are prepared for class.”
In late June and early July of this past summer, Arleen Kohnke, Director of Admissions, Greg Stock, High School Humanities Teacher and Chair of the College of Teachers, and Jeff Benz, Honolulu Waldorf School Board of Trustees member and parent, traveled together to China in order to meet with various high school administrators and potential students. They visited five high schools in Changzhou Province. Jeff had taught for two years in China and was able to help his fellow travelers find their way through the urban bustle of the greater Shanghai area. The trip was not only enjoyable, but successful, and our first student from China, Annie Tang, will be joining our Grade 9 class in the High School after the October break. We are developing an ESL program to support our international students, and our High School is also exploring the possibility of offering a Summer Waldorf English Camp program for second language learners. We currently have international students in our High School from Pakistan, Germany, and Japan, and anticipate a student arriving from Russia later this year. As a bridge between East and West, our islands and our school can help to foster global awareness and understanding both now and into the future.
Science classes in a Waldorf School are taught through what is called the phenomenological approach. This means that the students perceive the phenomena before they learn the concept. This allows the students to deeply understand the concept because they have discovered it for themselves rather than it being told to them in an abstract way.
The Honolulu Waldorf High School is situated right on the Pacific Ocean and therefore the 10th Grade Oceanography Main Lesson block allows for the students to observe and work with plenty of first-hand phenomena. In this block the students investigate the hydrosphere and atmosphere of the earth. They explore the movement of water throughout the oceans. They observe, collect, and analyze data on weather and ocean conditions and examine information from around the world to determine global and local patterns in our environment. They will then take all of these ideas and concepts and will apply them to their own island home as they investigate the how, what, when, and why in Hawaii.
On this particular day, Thursday, September 20th, 2012, the HWS sophomores were in the ocean gathering data. They measured tides, water temperature and wind speed. They began the lesson, however, with quite contemplative observation of the ocean, sky and clouds which they then recorded in their notebooks.
Then several 10th Graders hop in the water to record tide height and water temperature.
Rather than learning concepts from a textbook, the students actually use the scientific method of observing, gathering data and then analyzing that data. From this they live into the science and the concepts they learn become a part of them because they have discovered these concepts themselves.
The 10th Grade Oceanography main lesson observing and recording their observations. Picture taken at the Honolulu Waldorf High School.
They then said the morning verse which all Waldorf students say before main lesson. These particular students have the fortune of saying it while looking upon the great Pacific Ocean.
It is not unusual for a day in the Waldorf High School to cross great conceptual distance: today they began in the ocean and ended in cyberspace.