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July 2007


“The 50 Greatest Hawaii Songs,” 06/07
HONOLULU Magazine’s panel of musicians, historians and producers created the list.

Two great songs were missing: “These Islands,” by Danny Couch, and “My Hawaii,” by Felix Cavaliere of the Young Rascals, should have been included in the list. Both of these songs elicit feelings for these Islands from the heart.

—Bruce Kimura, Manoa

The “50 Greatest Songs,” with its superb selection by a superb panel, is an edition that’s both a reference and a collector’s item. The vintage photos and brief stories that accompany each song make a beautiful layout of music to treasure.

Sadly, it’s impossible to find sheet music singles any more. After “Honolulu City Lights” from Harry’s House of Music, looking was in vain. The state library has my gratitude for locating many of these.

—Ruth Friedman, Honolulu

One of the best Hawaii songs of all time was omitted: “These Islands,” by Danny Couch. I spent last Christmas with friends on the Mainland. Every morning I brewed Kona coffee and played Hawaiian music from my iPod. When “These Islands” came on, people actually jumped out of their warm beds to hear it played again and again.

—Kent Roller, Kaimuki

“Reality Check” 05/07
Associate editor Lori Anne Tomonari wrote her “Making a Difference” column about the American Assistance for Cambodia (AAFC) program, which helps turn a $13,000 donation into a schoolhouse.

For years we had thought about funding a school in Cambodia through AAFC, as our old friend Bernie Krisher is chairperson of the organization. But it had always seemed too large a commitment, until one day I saw our Cambodian granddaughter’s bill from MidPac, $13,500, and thought, “We could build a school for that.”

Our school, named for our granddaughter, Monique, is in its second year and provides education for 324 children. It has clean water, and hot meals, made from the vegetables from its own garden. It has two computers run by solar power.

We have a donor group in Honolulu, which meets every three months. It began with nine members, but every time we meet, there are new people.

—Martha Taylor Roach, Honolulu

“Ready for the Real World?” 05/07
Senior editor Ronna Bolante discovered that Hawaii’s high school students are being shortchanged in both college prep and career readiness.

The DOE/BOE and their minions at the Legislature have sustained the failing status quo for too many years. Their mantra is “give us more money and we will do a better job.” We (the taxpayers) have, they have not. Since the Reinventing Education ACT 51 of 2004, the education operating budget has grown close to three-quarters of a billion dollars. Enrollment is down and results are stagnant. Auwe! This past session I attempted to have the DOE audited, to no avail.

—State Sen. Fred Hemmings, Honolulu

“Ready for the Real World?” really struck a chord with me. My stepdaughter came to live with us three years ago, and we enrolled her in third grade at Kuhio Elementary. Her home life with her birth mother on the Mainland wasn’t the best, and education just wasn’t important. But we were able to work hard at getting her caught up on her reading skills. Now she is soaring in school, yet often unchallenged.

Our daughter was just accepted to La Pietra. She’s so excited she can hardly stand it. While the cost of private school will be very tough on us financially, we are happy to make that investment. She deserves it, and we want to see her succeed as she goes on to high school, college and the rest of her life. Your article makes me so thankful that we took the big plunge toward private school.

—Angela Keen, Moiliili

Since becoming James Campbell High School’s principal in 1999, Dr. Gail Awakuni has brought many programs to the school which have helped us to restructure the way we have worked and improved our students’ attendance rates, passing rates, graduation rates and test scores. While AVID has been an important part of Campbell’s move to excellence, as noted in Bolante’s article, other programs and extensive staff training also have played major roles on the road to school improvement. Our association with Talent Development High Schools, a Johns Hopkins program, brought its model and multigrade curriculum to Campbell in 2002. We consider it to be the impetus in our moving forward.

—Laurie Katagiri-Hoshino,
Director of Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment
Sharon Aoki, Director of Career Development
James Campbell High School, Ewa Beach

“Smells Like Fiasco” 05/07
Managing editor Kathryn Drury Wagner’s “Afterthoughts” column bemoaned the route chosen for Oahu’s fixed guideway system.

A perhaps more important point to be made about rail and how its routes are chosen is how it integrates with bus lines. Transit systems rely on transfers between lines, but generally fail to make the wait time for transferring convenient. Adding a fixed-route rail system can help that, improving bus service as well as adding reliable and fast regional transit. Transfers really cannot be avoided; they must be built in. It may be that Waikiki and other important destinations would be better served with surface transit, (bus, van, streetcar), rather than elevated rail.

Route choices are made with these considerations in mind. Add the possibility for reducing the high cost of elevated rail with a low-cost route. Bus lines that pass through rail stations can have more activity along their corridors than can occur at a rail station alone.

—Art Lewellan, Portland, Ore.

Letters to the Editor may be e-mailed to: letters_honmag@pacificbasin.net, faxed: 537-6455 or sent to: HONOLULU Magazine, 1000 Bishop Street, Suite 405, Honolulu, HI, 96813.

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