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The Academy robotics teams gained more success with two other VEX IQ teams qualifying for the championships in Louisville, Ky.
The two teams placed in the top 30 in the world for the programming skills challenge. Team 2436B, the second qualifying Academy elementary school team, placed 19th overall while team 2437A, the Academy’s only qualifying middle school team, earned the 26th slot.
Teams 2436B and 2437A will be joining team 2436A, who had previously qualified for the championships by winning the Excellency Award at the Hawaii State VEX IQ Championship.
Team 2437A consists of eighth graders Lauren Matsukawa and Aulii Ludington. They are mentored by robotics teacher and VEX IQ adviser Peter Park. Team 2436B is made up of fifth grader Hyatt Yoshioka, fourth graders Madison Iwashita and Abegail Aguirre. They are mentored by Juliet Won, Aguirre’s mother.
Over 200 teams compete at the World championships and the Academy’s teams will be three out of 31 teams from Hawaii.
Park is excited to travel to Louisville and see the Academy teams compete in World championships for the first time.
“I am happy knowing that after putting in a lot of work throughout the year, the students were able to get this far,” said Park.
VEX IQ has only existed for three years. The Academy mentors include Robb Mehring, Won as well as Park.
Members of the Outreach, Unity and Renewal (OUR) club, Interact club and National Honor Society (NHS) hosted an Easter party at the Academy for the children of Loliana Hale, a transitional housing shelter for families.
More than 30 children participated in an Easter egg hunt and received bunny ears created by the students. The children were given carrots after visiting and took photos with the Easter bunny, a senior dressed in an Easter bunny costume.
Senior Nicole Pagdilao said, “I dressed up as Santa Claus during our Christmas party at Loliana Hale and enjoyed the event so much that I wanted to be the Easter bunny, too. I loved seeing all the kids walk up to me and talk about random things. They were always smiling and it made me so happy, which will definitely make it memorable. Although there were some kids who were scared of me, they seemed to have a great time playing the other games.”
The children also enjoyed a water balloon game, blowing bubbles and drawing on the ground with chalk. The afternoon ended with a special treat of brownies and ice cream.
The annual Easter party is designed to let the children of Loliana Hale know “Somebunny Loves You.”
The Senior Class visited with Bishop Larry Silva in his annual “Bagels with the Bishop” program on Apr. 8.
Bishop Silva visits Hawaii Catholic high schools to encourage seniors to maintain their faith after graduation.
Students took individual pictures with the bishop and enjoyed a light breakfast of bagels and fruits.
The bishop’s talk focused on scripture from the gospel of Luke about the resurrection of Christ. Bishop Silva emphasized the mission to spread the good news of Christ and said, “Be on fire with God’s love that you want nothing more than to go out and share that love with others.”
Before the bishop arrived, seniors were invited to write questions they have about the bishop or the church.
“Let the love of the Lord influence everything you do,”said Bishop Silva when asked what advice he would give to the seniors as they prepare for college.
Senior Shadee Edralin said, “I enjoyed the bishop’s talk to us about maintaining our faith journey and his advice on letting Christ influence our decisions. I will definitely continue my faith journey as I go on to college.”
Senior Annie Oh has qualified as a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
This year 50,000 students with the highest Preliminary SAT (PSAT) selection index scores were eligible for the program. Students took the PSAT at the beginning of their junior year in high school. Those students are notified in September of senior year if they are commended students or semifinalists.
Approximately 16,000 students are finalists and will now compete for a National Merit Scholarship.
Senior Annie Oh said, “I was very happy and grateful to my parents because they helped motivate me to do my best and paid for all this to happen. I am really happy that I am receiving 2,000 dollars that will cover the cost of my books for college.”
In the last 10 years the Academy has had several seniors reach finalist or semifinalist status.
College Counselor, Randall Fong, said, “It is a great achievement and honor since only the top 1 percent of students are named semifinalist or finalist out of 1.5 million eligible students nationwide. Besides the National Merit scholarship consideration, a finalist or semifinalist may also receive a scholarship from colleges based on their scholarship recognition.”
The Academy Pacific Asian Affairs Council (PAAC) Club spent a day at the Aloha Tower Marketplace tackling a serious issue: homelessness.
PAAC prepares “the next generation of leaders for an increasingly interconnected world and promoting citizen diplomacy.”
PAAC hosts an annual Global Vision Summit to enrich and educate members of the high school programs about issues that plague both Hawaii and the globe.
Juniors Megan Backus, Faizah Shyanguya and Jennifer Ung and sophomore Taylor McKenzie participated in this year’s summit focused on homelessness, a growing problem in Hawaii, on Mar. 5.
The students were tasked with finding possible solutions for homelessness using the “Design Thinking Process,” which consists of five parts: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test.
Students listened to guest speakers directly involved with homelessness and brainstormed possible solutions. Participants constructed a physical prototype for their solution and showcased it to the summit attendees.
At the close of the summit, students analyzed global case studies about homelessness in Brazil, the Philippines and Sweden.
A first-year member of the PAAC club at the Academy, Ung thought the experience was eye-opening.
“Before the conference, I didn’t pay much attention to the homeless,” said Ung, “but now, my perspective on the problem has changed.”
Ung encourages other students to become involved and to attend PAAC’s Global Vision Summits.
“Even if you don’t enjoy conferences, try to go to summits,” Ung said. “You can learn more about state and global issues and propose ways to solve them!”
Sacred Hearts dancers in Micki Kolberg’s dance classes will perform excerpts of “Paquita” at Mamiya Theatre on Apr. 9, beginning at 7 p.m.
“Paquita” is the story of a young Spanish girl raised by gypsies who saved her from a pirate massacre. Through unexpected events, Paquita meets a high-ranked soldier, Lucien. Complications arise because Paquita believes she is not worthy of Lucien.
Dancer junior Adrianne Del Rosario said, “I look forward to the performance because we’ll finally be able to show off our hard work. We’ve been preparing during classes and sometimes after school.”
The spring ballet will be presented for one day only. While tickets are free, seats must be reserved.
Visit www.sacredhearts.org/tickets to reserve seats and for more information.
Sacred Hearts welcomed the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (FRBSF) for all-day personal finance workshops for students in grades nine to 12 for the second time.
Students sat in on three sessions, including the purposes and functions of the Federal Reserve Bank, useful tips for personal finance and how to finance college. Speakers from the Fed included Jody Hoff, the Senior District Manager of Economic Education in Community Engagement Group; Lorraine Thayer, the Education and Outreach Manager; Daniel Fukuyama, the Fed Ambassador Program Manager and Ellen Chan, the Senior Outreach Strategist in Economic Education.
Students found the workshops invaluable.
Sophomore Kanoe George said, “After the Fed’s visit, it just reiterated my thoughts of the importance of having a personal budget. I recently started working and I’ve been saving a portion of my income to go towards getting a new car. Throughout the sessions, the Fed gave me important tips and steps to do so.”
Senior Noelle Yamamoto also found the workshop tips practical.
“Since I will be graduating and heading off to college soon, I found the Fed’s visit to be extremely valuable for me. Their session on financing college and keeping a personal budget will definitely help me in the near future. I plan on setting a simple budget to save some money and hopefully stick with my plan.”
In the last session, Hoff facilitated an entrepreneurial leadership panel discussion with a question-answer segment. The panel featured young local entrepreneurs that focused on the aspects of business and industry. Local entrepreneurs included Emmanuel Bamfo, founding CEO of Recharge; Traven Watase, founder of Scholar’s App; Martina Welke, co-founder and CEO of Zealyst; Susan Yamasa, Executive Director of the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) and Evan Young, co-founder and Director of Business Development of VRCHIVE.
Sophomore Haley Peterson said, “I loved the panel discussion because the speakers shared their personal stories about their path to finding their businesses and taught us how we can all become entrepreneurs. Overall, I really enjoyed the visit from the Fed because it helps me to better understand the steps I need to take in my life to properly finance my future. ”
St. Patrick School is hosting its annual “Taste of St. Patrick,” a mini-carnival, to raise funds for scholarships.
The event will feature food booths and food trucks selling treats such as malasadas, shaved ice and pastries.
An open market with plants, jellies and jams, and homemade merchandise such as crocheted hats, bags and animals will also be available.
There will also be activity booths where customers can purchase tie-dye hats and socks, as well as a booth where one can get henna tattoos and enjoy Indian cuisine.
A country cafe will be selling authentic baked goods such as fresh breads, roasted corn on the cob and flavored drinks.
The fair will also feature a kid zone with games for children, such as multi-level basketball and bouncy houses.
A silent auction will be taking place on the walkway to the kid zone.
The event will take place on Saturday, Apr. 9.
Isabella Johnson, an Academy eighth grader, recently placed in the Honolulu District Spelling Bee.
“I came in second place and I was kind of anxious,” said Johnson, reflecting on her feelings during the Bee. “But, I was just trying to stay calm because I knew if you got first or second place, it means you get to go to the States. So, I was fine with getting second place.”
“It’s super exciting, and it’s a little bit scary because first she won the school competition and now this one. And the state one?” said English teacher Samantha Silverberg when asked about her student’s progress.
“The higher up that we go, the words get harder and harder and the other students are way more intense about it. They study way harder and if you look at the winning words for the spelling bees, I’ve absolutely never heard of them.”
Some spelling bees have been known to present words 27 letters long.
Johnson is the first Academy student to reach the state competition, the Hawaii State Spelling Bee.
“I didn’t know it. I found out today, which is really exciting. Maybe I should’ve made a bigger deal out of it, like screamed it the day after when I got to school. I had no idea–I don’t even know if she knows,” said Silverberg.
“I was surprised when I heard because I thought somebody would have won before me,” said Johnson.
In preparation for the next stage, which will take place on Apr. 1, Silverberg plans to go over the words with Johnson. The pair meets three times a week, if not more.
“I’m also studying with my mom,” said Johnson.
Having to juggle homework, projects and extracurricular activities makes studying for the bee a difficult task.
“I know she didn’t prepare until the last second last time and I want her not to be as stressed out about it,” said Silverberg, “but it’s hard because obviously she has homework that’s due every single day. It seems like it’s far off, so it’s easy to leave studying until the last minute. Hopefully I’ll be helping her prepare well.”
“I’m excited. I’m humble I guess, I’m just trying to stay calm and whatever happens happens. So, if I don’t make it, it wasn’t meant to be,” said Johnson.
In another English department contest , the Shakespeare competition also took place.
For the competition, students had to memorize a 20-line monologue and one of Shakespeare’s sonnets and then perform them before the judges.
This year’s school level winner was junior Frances Nicole Tabios. Tabios worked hard to prepare for the state competition on Feb. 20 at Punahou School with the help of AP teacher Margy O’Kelly.
While the state winner goes to the national competition in New York, the national winner wins a trip to England.
“It’s awesome,” said department chair Jill Sprott. “You actually get to go and walk the streets that Shakespeare walked and be in the theaters…it’s great.”
“I felt anxious to perform in front of other students but also excited to see their performances,” said Tabios. “I worked with Mrs. O’Kelly during recess and after school in preparation for the speech. In addition, I watched videos of different actors performing my monologue.”
Tabios performed the scene from ”Antony and Cleopatra” in which Antony dies.
“I observed how different actors perform so that I could learn from their interpretations of the scene and get inspiration for my own performance,” said Tabios. “I also researched the context of the scene to properly reenact Cleopatra’s emotions.”
“It was a fun experience participating in the Shakespeare competition,” said Tabios. “It was astonishing to see how passionate some of the performers were.”
You should be nervous, afraid even. You peek out from behind the curtain, taking in the audience who eagerly waits for your performance. Memorized lines, dance moves and practiced gestures flood your consciousness. What if you forget your part, you think. People will be watching; will they notice a mistake? The thoughts swirl in your mind but you try to remain calm.
You smile, swallowing the remnants of a Ricola cough drop and apply a fresh layer of lipstick for good measure. With a deep breath, you leap into your performance, welcoming the bright spotlight as you lose yourself in the excitement of the performance.
This is how Sacred Hearts Academy freshman Kira Stone feels before every performance.
A passionate actress since age 3, Stone participates in a myriad of performing arts.
“I have been taking voice lessons since I was about 10 years old and dancing ballet since age 3,” said Stone. “I also am an active member of Diamond Head Theatre’s ‘Shooting Stars’ which is a performing arts program that features different styles of dance and vocals.”
Stone has participated in many shows, including “The Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins” at Diamond Head Theatre and “Hollywood Arms” with The Actors Group.
Recently, Stone starred as Alice in the Academy’s 2013 fall production of “Alice in Wonderland” and as both Hannah and the Scarecrow in the 2015 production of “Wizard of Oz.”
Aspiring stars need role models. For Stone, her inspiration comes from her mother who also performs and dances.
“She is the one who encouraged me to audition for the first time,” Stone said.
Along with entrancing audiences with her undeniable talent, Stone has captured the hearts of those around her.
Stone’s ballet teacher Micki Kolberg admires Stone.
“Kira is committed to her love of the arts, theater and dance,” Said Kolberg. “She’s also very sweet and sensitive.”
Students who have worked with Stone in plays not only admire her talent but her also her attitude.
St. Louis junior Angelo Oasay, who worked with Stone in “The Wizard of Oz,” was impressed by her.
“The level of maturity she possesses is what really sets her apart from others her age,” Oasay said. “Sometimes, you even forget that she’s a freshman.”
An acting career can run into many obstacles. While some face conflicts with directors or struggles with memorizing lines, Stone’s challenge is of an eccentric sort: her height.
“For a while Diamond Head Theatre would do kids’ shows and I would be just a little too tall,” said Stone. “I had an early growth spurt and that frustrated me for a bit.”
Her frequent disappointment was soon eased.
“I was put in more mature roles after a while, so it worked out!” said Stone.
Stone recognizes and acknowledges the support and guidance from her instructors, especially Kolberg.
“She is loving and kind and makes sure we are comfortable with what we are given,” Stone said. “She is also one of the reasons I kept doing ballet. She is an inspiration to me every day.”
Despite being only a freshman, Stone plans to continue performing through high school and college.
“I love performing and telling a story to an audience. Dancing and singing comes fairly naturally to me, so I hope to continue both of those things,” said Stone.
Stone also aspires to perform on Broadway one day. Though she believes it is just a dream, she has unshakable support.
“She’s got it on lockdown!” Oasay said. “You can just see the hard work she puts out every time when she is given a role. The performing arts field definitely suits her.”
Kolberg stands firmly behind Stone.
“I have no doubt that she’ll be successful in whatever she decides to pursue,” said Kolberg. “She’s a very caring person, and I think that people like her are much needed in the performing arts world.”
“Performing arts has changed my life. It has helped me grow in my attitude, as well as my character,” said Stone. “My theater friends are the best friends I could ask for. Each show is a unique experience. I hope to continue performing my whole life.”
The Academy and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (FRBSF) are hosting all-day workshops with featured speakers Jody Hoff, Lorraine Thayer, Daniel Fukuyama and Ellen Chan for students in grades nine to 12 on Mar.29.
Hoff is a Senior District Manager of Economic Education in the Community Engagement Group, Thayer the Education and Outreach Manager, Fukuyama the Fed Ambassador Program Manager and Chan the Senior Outreach Strategist in Economic Education. All work at the Federal Reserve Bank.
Students will attend three sessions, which are Purposes and Functions, Personal Finance and How to Finance College. At the end of the day, a discussion panel with all the speakers will be facilitated by Hoff.
This is the second time in three years that the FRBSF will be coming to the Academy to host a workshop.
In celebration of their fathers, the Class of 2018 enjoyed the annual Father-Daughter luncheon at the Pacific Beach Hotel.
“It was fun,” said sophomore Paige Mattos. “It would’ve been a lot better if there were more food options, though. I really wish there was more meat.”
The menu featured a variety of salads, chicken and fish, and a host of desserts.
The theme of this year’s luncheon was superheroes, or more accurately, “Super Dads.”
“The Sophomore Council decided the theme should be ‘Super Dads,’” said division adviser Elizabeth Gabriel. “So, we had a superhero theme. They celebrated what makes their dads super to them. We focused on what superhero qualities they had.”
There was a “Superhero and School” quiz in which fathers and daughters had to band together as a table to answer questions such as, “Which teacher shouts, ‘Back to homeroom!’ every flag?” or “What is Magneto’s superpower?”
Several speakers spoke about how their fathers are indeed “super.”
Professional photographers were on the scene to take photos of fathers and daughters for mementos. A photo booth put together by the council was also provided for more casual pictures.
“A joyous occasion shared with family and friends. The centerpieces that were placed at the center of the table were beautiful and everyone had a great time in general,” said sophomore Lexus Lyons.
The Class of 2020 celebrated time together at the annual banquet, themed “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”
The guests were the girls themselves, their homeroom teachers and several administrators.
Entertainment was provided in the form of a few games but also by students.
A talent show featured five students in performances, ranging from singing to playing the guitar or the ukulele.
The delicious menu featured pesto pasta, red sauce pasta and salad. For dessert, everyone enjoyed ice cream.
The event was held in the Clarence T.C. Ching Center on Mar. 6 and lasted for three hours.
“The purpose of the eighth grade banquet is for the girls to get together one last time,” said division adviser Kaycie Baltunado. “They have a big fun party before they actually move into the ninth grade where they meet many new students and have a different setting. It’s just one last time where they can get together and be friends and have a good time.”
The Academy’s hula class attended the 10th Annual Lei O Lanikuhonua Hula Festival on Feb. 26 at the beautiful Ko Olina on the west side of Oahu.
High school students from around the island were treated to a fun-filled day of Hawaiian language and culture as they were blessed with the opportunity to learn hula from some of Hawaii’s notable kumu hula.
Hula instructor, kumu Jordan Asing, said, “I was delighted to hear many of my hula confidants say that my students were not only well-trained but also very respectful to the kumu, haumana and the aina as well. We were delighted to see Suzan Avina, an Academy alumna, who is a strong supporter of the Hawaiian culture. Her love and devotion to the perpetuation of the Hawaiian culture is marvelous.”
The Lei O Lanikuhonua Festival reaches out to students hoping that the experience impacts students in their hearts and lives in the future.
Senior Shadee Edralin said, “This was my last year attending the hula festival and over the past four years, the festival has grown in popularity and importance. There are no prizes or competing hula halau in this hula festival. It is a hula festival unlike any other, where hula masters come together to share their knowledge and excite students to preserve hula and all things Hawaiian.”
Asing complimented his students, saying “a job well done to our girls that carried out their name as Na Wahine Waipahe, ‘the gentle-ladies,’ with elegance and grace.”
Imagine living where the sun never sets for six months. Then, imagine going one mile below the Earth’s surface to study miniscule particles that can’t be seen by the naked eye. This was Dr. Naoko Kurahashi Nielson’s life in Antarctica.
Nationally renowned physicist and researcher, Nielson was selected to work over six months at the South Pole in the IceCube experiment with more than 300 scientists from 12 countries.
Nielson was the keynote speaker at the Academy’s Annual Science Symposium for girls in fifth through eighth grades which featured workshops to inform girls from all over the island to the possibilities of careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through hands-on activities.
Nielson, a California native and a physics major at the University of California, Berkeley, earned her PhD at Stanford University. She then spent four years doing postdoctoral work at the University of Wisconsin. She is an assistant professor today at Drexel University.
Despite her impressive resume, Nielson was not always optimistic about her studies in physics.
“I wasn’t the best at math and science in high school. I walked into my first college physics class and they started talking about vector calculus, which I had never even heard of before. Sometimes I thought I was in over my head by studying physics. I didn’t think I could do it,” she said. “I even thought of giving up physics.”
Still, Nielson struggled through her first two years of college trying to catch up to better prepared peers. After completing her bachelor’s degree, she went on to acquire her doctoral degree.
While at the University of Wisconsin where she conducted postdoctoral studies, Nielson joined the IceCube experiment, a neutrino particle observatory in Antarctica where scientists faced 10-minute showers, few fresh fruits and vegetables and a short 5-hour access to WiFi when possible.
Passionate about science as a young student, Nielson throws herself into community outreach and educating girls and minorities about STEM fields.
“When people think of a scientist, they automatically think of a man. There’s this image of what a scientist ‘looks’ like, and people are sometimes surprised when I tell them I’m a physicist. I was one of only a few girls in my graduating class at Berkeley and Stanford, and the field is still highly male-dominated. My goal to change this stereotype and see more girls in STEM,” said Nielson.
Through her own extraordinary experiences and tireless work in education, Nielson hopes to change the face and future of science, one girl at a time.
Photo credit: Drexel University
Seniors Elizabeth Fischer and Wei Yi Huang won four-year scholarships to Hawaii Pacific University (HPU) based on their participation in a scholarship contest to improve Hawaii.
The scholarship, HPUBiz4Good, is awarded to 10 graduating seniors and covers tuition for four years of undergraduate study. Award winners were asked to share ideas and take action for a positive social, environmental or economic impact in Hawaii.
Huang said, “I decided to apply for this scholarship because I wanted to stay in Hawaii for college and because I wanted the chance to take the burden of the cost of college off my parents’ shoulders. I’m very happy that I won and I think that this opportunity not only gave me full tuition, but it also proves to me that my ideas have been recognized by the judges and others as valuable.”
Over the course of three months, participants shared ideas through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #HPUBiz4Good. They also attended a workshop to further extend their ideas and improve making their visions for Hawaii clearer.
Fischer said, “My issue revolved around human trafficking, and I had the idea at first to help victims and spread awareness. At the time, my idea was vague and underdeveloped but after I attended the workshop, I decided to create a store that would consist of products that addressed the issue of human trafficking. I thought to give the proceeds that I earned through my store to existing non-profit organizations to help the victims.”
After attending the workshop, students submitted a 2-3 minute pitch video, a written proposal and a resume. At the end, HPU held a final competition where participants presented their ideas to a panel of judges.
Huang said, “I came up with the idea to create an app that can remind and motivate others to put on sunscreen because I found that this is an issue in Hawaii and not many people are aware of how badly sunlight can affect and damage our skin. My app is called SPF alarm and it will be free to download; however, I am still in the process of publishing it because I’m contacting sunscreen companies to allow coupons to be given through my app. Every time you put on sunscreen you will earn two points with the maximum of 20 points a day. These coupons will be the main thing to motivate people to put on sunscreen because the points will continue to add up and you’ll earn coupons to buy sunscreen.”
Judging for the competition was conducted in two parts. Part I included an evaluation of participants’ high school transcripts and test scores (40 percent of overall score), the pitch video (10 percent), a summary of the proposal (10 percent) and a biography (10 percent). Part II was based on the final presentation to the judges which included an evaluation of participants’ creativity and originality (10 percent), feasibility (10 percent) and presentation skills (10 percent).
Fischer said, “I absolutely enjoyed the competition process because it was fun updating my online store and even meeting new people. There were so many participants who had amazing innovative ideas and it is such an honor and a blessing to receive such an award. I thank my amazing family and friends for being so supportive and encouraging me while I was working hard on this project.”
Fischer’s online store: http://stopdasale.bigcartel.com/
The Sacred Hearts Academy band and choir will be on their way to Japan during spring break 2017.
The tentative itinerary is an 8-9 day tour of several cities, including Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo, according to band director Keith Higaki.
“I’m also trying to work in Hiroshima for the historical aspect for the students,” said Higaki.
Higaki also hopes to have students hear the Omiya Wind Orchestra, directed by internationally recognized conductor Toshi Akiyama. Omiya features a highly regarded community band, a sister community band of the Honolulu Wind Symphony.
“We’re trying to coordinate something with them to watch a concert or a dress rehearsal,” said Higaki, “or host a clinic from Sensei Akiyama. We’ll see what’s available.”
The band and choir also want to visit Tokyo Disneyland, temples in Kyoto, castles of Osaka, and shop and eat in Tokyo.
At a meeting for the trip, the itinerary was discussed, detailing the times of departure, cities and events day-by-day.
The cost of the trip was also discussed. It will depend on how the U.S. dollar stacks up to the yen in the time leading up to the trip.
The number of students and adults also affects the price. A larger group can actually make for a cheaper price, as larger groups mean group discounts.
Since a passport is necessary to travel internationally, students and parents who do not have one will need to obtain one before the trip.
“Many of these things are all ahead of time,” said Higaki. “It’s more than a year away. As we closely approach the one year mark, a few things will probably change as we get more information.”
Seniors Aimee Pak, Malia Libby, Weiyi (Chloe) Huang and Michaela Graves have been recognized as winners of the Award for Aspirations in Computing from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) Hawaii region.
The four students were nominated by Math department chair and computer teacher Deborah Kula for their outstanding contributions to the field of technology.
Kula said, “This program is about encouraging women to get involved in technology fields and recognize those students who are already involved in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).”
Pak was also a runner-up for the national award.
“I felt extremely grateful. It was as if all the work I had put into robotics and programming was acknowledged,” she said.
In the future Pak wants to be an aerospace engineer.
“I want to be the best one at my job and a person who is in high demand for my skills,” said Pak.
The award provides more opportunities to learn computing and help in the community. Winners can also earn scholarships, internships or job opportunities.
Pak said, “I believe that this award will help me to physically show colleges and scholarship committees that I am a hardworking student.”
Kula herself was recognized as an Educator Awardee for her contributions. In addition to chairing the department, she is a mentor for the robotics team and Oahu Mathematics League (OML) adviser.
Kula said, “I think it’s nice for the students to be recognized and call attention to what they are doing. It also shows that you can be a normal person and be involved in STEM and computing.”
The Academy VEX IQ team has emerged victorious, earning one of the spots representing Hawaii at the prestigious Worlds competition in Louisville, Ky. This is the first time a school VEX IQ team will travel to a national contest.
At the recent Hawaii State VEX IQ Championship on Feb. 6, 80 elementary and middle school teams competed for a spot in the Worlds competition. One elementary school, the Academy, and one middle school earned their trips to Kentucky.
Team 2436A is comprised of sixth graders Kammiee Ardo, Nanami Mehring and Prudence Russell and is mentored by Robb Mehring, Nanami’s father, and Academy robotics teacher and VEX IQ adviser Peter Park.
VEX IQ is a relatively new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program for elementary and middle school students ages eight to 14.
According to the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation (REC), “Students, with guidance from their teachers and mentors, will build a robot using the VEX IQ robotics platform to solve an engineering challenge that is presented in the form of a game. VEX IQ Challenge teams will work together scoring points in Teamwork Matches, and also display their robot’s skills individually in driver controlled and autonomous Skills Challenges.” The Challenge also includes a research project which features a written or media presentation.
At the World competition on Apr. 20 to 23, teams will compete in Bankshot, a challenge in which two robots work simultaneously to score points on a 4×8 field.
Hawaii will be represented by seven elementary school teams and seven middle school teams. Team 2436A will compete in Louisville as one of the elementary teams.
The Academy’s junior high VEX IQ team will attempt to qualify for a middle school slot in the Worlds competition as well in upcoming state competitions.
According to KITV4 News, Hawaii has had a 300 percent increase in the number of robotics teams after VEX IQ was introduced to schools three years ago and a 50 plus increase of teams in the past year, one of nine states to do so.
At the Hawaii State VEX IQ Championship, Team 2436A earned the Excellence Award, the highest award presented in the VEX IQ Challenge, as well as the Programming Skills Championship Award.
According to the REC, the Excellence Award is given to the team that demonstrates overall excellence in the VEX IQ challenge. The Programming Skills Champion Award is given to the team with the top programming skills for robot performance.
Mehring said, “I have learned teamwork and respect for my friends and I also learned how to make new friends. It has been a great experience.”
Park was also awarded the Volunteer of the Year Award for outstanding participation and assistance in several of the year’s VEX IQ events. In addition to helping set up and take down fields at competitions, Park has also helped host VEX IQ scrimmages at the Academy Student Center as well as mentor coaches and teams from other schools.
“I am honored to win this award. I enjoy helping with VEX IQ competitions and coaching the students. It’s great to see them learn more about robotics and gain exposure to this new area of science at such a young age,” said Park.
The time has come for this year’s Junior Class to hold its traditional Junior Ring ceremony.
The event marks the juniors’ acceptance as upperclassmen. The ring ceremony has been a tradition of the Academy for over 70 years.
“It was way back in the day for me,” said theology teacher and alumna Leilani Asuncion-Tagupa. “I knew that by participating in the ring ceremony as juniors, we now became upperclassmen. So not only did we have a little bit more responsibility, we knew that, this is it, we’re one year closer to graduation.”
At the ceremony, juniors receive a class ring or a pin that is worn on their ties.
The juniors sit with their parents, walk to the front of the chapel and then receive the ring or pin from a parent.
Through the ceremony, many students feel a connection to the school’s graduates, some of whom are their own mothers, grandmothers or cousins.
“The ring ceremony was a nice way to receive an heirloom from your high school days,” said alumna, math teacher Elizabeth Gabriel. “It was nice to involve your parents by having them give it to us and go through the whole ceremony part of it, making it more meaningful than it just being a trinket that you were handed in homeroom.” Gabriel’s sister is also an alumna of Sacred Hearts.
The ring ceremony marks a practice of many schools and is often seen as a way to remember one’s school experiences as well as the time spent with classmates.
“It’s a beautiful tradition for students, where the ring reminds them that they are part of the Academy family and that they are also now the leaders in the school,” said Campus Minister, Sr. Katherine Francis Miller, also an Academy graduate. “It’s really becomes a wonderful memento that reminds us of all of the wonderful young women that we shared life with, as well as our teachers and with the school.”