The Iolani Future Is Bright

By Cathy Lee Chong
Wednesday - April 05, 2006
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Iolani seniors (from left) Jeff Yang, Kiran Kepo'o, Christine Chen, Bruna Rieder and Sara Wynhoff
Iolani seniors (from left) Jeff Yang, Kiran Kepo’o,
Christine Chen, Bruna Rieder and Sara Wynhoff

The longer I’m at Iolani School, the more I realize there is no such thing as an ordinary day here. Learning never ends. Ideas are constantly exchanged. Well-established programs thrive in a positive, nurturing educational environment.

In one classroom, eighth-graders discuss the AIDS crisis in Africa. In another, seniors contemplate decisions made by the Supreme Court. Kindergartners write words with inventive spelling. Photography students witness images coming to life in the dark room. Actors and singers rehearse for the spring musical.

I think about a phrase from our alma mater: “Here dreams of youth take shape and spring to being.”

Here, young people are writing poetry, dancing, investigating, laughing, inquiring, singing, reading, experimenting, observing and, yes, dreaming. A student is an economist in the morning and a sculptor in the afternoon, a linguist before lunch and a soccer player after school.

Iolani’s flagship is its academic program. Iolani offers 22 Advanced Placement courses, five languages (including Latin) and Independent Study. For the Class of 2005, mean SAT scores were 617 for verbal and 672 for math. Iolani also had 34 members of the Class of 2006 qualify as National Merit Semi-Finalists, more than any school in Hawaii.

Yet high scores and awards reflect only one dimension of excellence. Here, education is valued for extending horizons, for the values it teaches and for enriching intellectual growth.

Contributing to Iolani’s academic achievement is individualized attention. With a teacher-student ratio of 11 to one, teachers really get to know who’s in their classrooms, while students have more opportunities for interaction.

Integral to our educational program are the arts and athletics. Students explore and expand their creative sides, while experiencing self-discovery through the performing and visual arts. Student athletes share the camaraderie of belonging to a team and the importance of humility and respect as Iolani’s One Team philosophy permeates every aspect of school.

Character education and community service also play large roles at Iolani. Students discover the intrinsic rewards of volunteering, for example, with the American Red Cross relief effort for victims of Hurricane Katrina. They have also given their personal time to a number of other charities.

Also Iolani strives to provide resources to the community. Programs by guest speakers, such as historian John Hope Franklin, are open to the public and sponsored by Iolani as a way to stimulate intellectual thought. Iolani also serves as a major center for the PSAT and SAT taken by students from across the state. The school also hosts numerous sports tournaments.

Iolani has come a long way since it was founded in 1863 as a school for boys. Many administrators and teachers have devoted their lifetime careers to shaping Iolani into one of the finest co-educational independent college preparatory schools in the country.

The future is even brighter. Under the leadership of Headmaster Dr. Val T. Iwashita, Iolani recently launched a comprehensive strategic plan that, for one, aims to expand our global connection and educational reach in the Hawaii community.

Today approximately 1,830 boys and girls, in kindergarten through 12th grade, from diverse backgrounds and cultures attend Iolani.

Yes, they are fortunate to attend a school such as Iolani. But just as Iolani makes a positive difference in students’ lives, they will eventually leave us and make a positive impact in the world of tomorrow. Knowing that makes what we do on campus meaningful, which is doing our very best for the children we serve.

Next Week: Kevin Deschroeder, Gracie Jiu Jitsu

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