Pahoa High School students ace UH Hilo classes

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Date: Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release


Pahoa HS students (L to R) stand with Counselor Julie Ann Beck: Quincy Lewis, Myles Cockcroft, Chen Yu Zhou, and Kevin Mack.

What do students at Pahoa High School have in common with Hilo High, Waiakea High, Honoka`a High and Ke Kula o Navahiokalani School students? They took classes at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and loved it!

Juniors and seniors from local high schools participated in Running Start classes at UH Hilo over the summer. The students are admitted to the University while still in high school and receive dual credit toward both high school and college graduation. Students at Title I schools who qualify through their high school counselors can then receive scholarship money for the classes and a stipend toward textbooks. This summer, the federal program “Gear Up” provided scholarships for five students from Pahoa.

The Running Start program differs from Advanced Placement classes in that students receive grades and guaranteed credit in college courses. Students can graduate from high school with the first year of college, or two years, completed. The program is very popular on O`ahu, where some McKinley High School students have already completed two years of college classes while in high school. Whether students attend the University of Hawai`i, mainland public or private schools, the classes transfer as college credit.

The Running Start legislation, Act 236, passed on June 19, 2000 and allows students to receive dual high school and college credit for classes. Over 200 students on O`ahu received college credit over the summer.

Margaret Haig, dean of the College of Continuing Education and Community Service at UH Hilo, says, “as high schools increasingly come under the provisions of the ‘No Child Left Behind’ act, schools are scrambling to offer curriculum outside of the required areas. The Running Start program offers high school students an early chance to compete in college, in classes they enjoy, and succeed.” Local high schools have approached UH Hilo to provide career-tracked classes that they cannot receive in high school. With the possibility of taking astronomy, marine science, technology, math and science classes, students can begin working toward careers and jobs.

“The students from Pahoa High School and Intermediate this summer took a grueling number of classes, from advanced calculus to history, psychology, oceanography, Japanese, and English,” says Haig. “Parents organized to provide transportation for the five young men, and they attended classes daily. Each of the five students passed their college classes with high grade point averages, proving students from high schools can succeed in college.”

Julie Ann Beck, the Transition Center/Career counselor, is credited with working with the Pahoa students, helping them with the admission process, the on-line computer registration, meeting with college counselors, and completing the scholarship forms.

The students are required to meet strict testing requirements for English and math, take a writing test for English composition classes, and maintain high grades. Through a grant funded by a Kellogg Foundation, Beck tested juniors and seniors on site at Pahoa High School.

While these are the first students from Pahoa High School and Intermediate to receive scholarships, the first Hawai`i Island students to receive funding were four students from Ke Kula o Navahiokalani, who completed Hawaiian 102 with Professor Hiapo Perreira. Students from Honoka`a High School also participated in the scholarship program, taking classes with Professors Cheryl Ramos and Alton Okinaka. With the opening of the North Hawai`i Education and Research Center at the old Honoka`a Hospital in several years, the University intends to offer more classes in North Hawai`i.

“The partnership between the Department of Education, the University of Hawai`i, and federal funding is providing many opportunities for students to enter college and careers early, and prove their ability to succeed in college,” Haig explains. “Parents notice that students’ behavior in high school is much more mature and that students have goals and future plans.”


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