The Good Memories Of KGMB
Wednesday - November 30, 2005
The little girl reached up with the lei in her hands and draped it around my neck. “Thank you,” she said, and walked away. Right behind her was another child, lei in hand. And another. And another.
I was standing on a plain brown stage at Kaewai Elementary, along with photographer Tom Garbisch. We had been invited to this tiny school’s assembly that morning but didn’t know quite what to expect. Principal Dale Spaulding had called and asked us to be there. The children, he said, wanted to say thank you. It was important to them. So here we were.
A reporter recently asked me what was my best memory of working at KGMB. I babbled something about meeting movers and shakers and interviewing bigwigs. What an idiot answer that was. When I actually had a little time to think, I knew what I should have told the reporter. I should have told her about Kaewai School.
This little cluster of buildings houses some of the poorest children in the state. Their families live in public housing and almost all of them qualify for free or reduced lunch. And their school looked like a tenement school - decaying, sinking into the ground and walls cracking apart. It was a hazard to the children and a morale buster for the dedicated staff trying hard to improve the test scores and the lives of their students. Principal Spaulding had spent years working within the system trying to get the school fixed. But now, again, he had received word of yet another delay with the funding. He was fed up and frustrated.
Spaulding walked us around the campus and by the end of the tour, Tom and I were almost as angry as he was. Kids shouldn’t be treated like this. Hawaii shouldn’t be abandoning its children year after year and getting away with it. We did the story. Shortly after that, the money needed for construction was finally released.
Was there a direct cause and effect? I don’t know. The money probably would have been released eventually. Maybe we helped speed things up a bit. The important thing is we called attention to something that needed to be seen. The children and teachers of Kaewai School were no longer invisible. They mattered. And now - finally - their needs were being met.
So there we stood, Tom and I, on that little stage, child after child placing a lei around my neck, some whispering “thanks,” and others giving me a peck on the cheek. And when the lei reached the top of my head, I removed a heavy armful and draped them over Tom. About halfway through the long line of children, I started to cry. All this gratitude! All of this love, and I couldn’t believe it was for me.
Tom and I left the campus with hearts full of aloha, heaps of flower lei, a certificate of appreciation and a big card signed by all of the teachers at the school.
And all because we did our job. We simply reported what we saw.
I should have related this story to that reporter. Because the best times I’ve had at KGMB were the times I felt that what we do really matters. To me it was never about ratings or popularity; it was all about the people of this state.
I will miss my friends at KGMB. I’ll miss the excitement and even the daily deadlines. But I am so happy to be moving on. Being a TV news anchor and reporter is a privilege, but it’s only the second best job in the world. Being a full-time mom is the first.
And I will still write this column for MidWeek, I hope you will continue to tell me about the issues that matter to you. You’ll notice the change of e-mail address at the bottom of the column. Write to me, please. I can’t wait to hear from you.
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