Tuesday, April 28, 2015         

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It's one thing to know your school motto, another to act on it, and most certainly another to act on it on a coral atoll some 2,285 miles from home.

Call it a penchant, a predilection, a predisposition. Whatever it is, Sasha Dimond has always gravitated toward identifying complex problems and solving them.

St. Francis School senior Hulita Drake is a gifted artist, an accomplished stage actress and a skilled air rifle competitor. She has a close and loving family. She was accepted to every university to which she applied.

It's not standard practice for students at La Pietra-Hawaii School for Girls to take calls from their parents in the middle of class, but when Walter Klein buzzed his daughter Isa­bella's class in November, it was a call worth taking.

Sarah Spalding felt certain that she had blown it, that she had literally choked away her chance at winning the Hawaii qualifier for the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition.

The official name of the course is Political Science 201:Problems of War and Peace, but in any given class session the underlying lesson is one of personal freedom and civic responsibility.

It's been more than two months since old Beek wriggled through the fence of his Kane­ohe home and disappeared into the night, and owner Christen Matsu­shige still can't quite believe the confluence of mercies that led to his happy return.

When Paul Turnbull places hand over heart and recites the Oath of Allegiance before Judge Leslie Koba­ya­shi in U.S. District Court on Tuesday morning, he will do so as a well-considered first act of civic responsibility to his adopted home.

Not one to see her elder child waste a perfectly good summer idling in the house, Tammy Leung told her daughter Victoria Lee, then a rising junior at Sacred Hearts Academy, that she had two choices: Get a job or start volunteering.

Each school day, Aiea High School food service manager Thomas Rodrigues and his staff do whatever is necessary to ensure that the 700 or so students who pass through their cafeteria doors receive the nourishment they need to be happy and productive.

James Wong didn't necessarily need Scouting to achieve the success he's enjoyed as one of Hawaii's most influential real estate developers.

Jinjing "Coco" Wei came to the United States with an open mind and a resolve not to make any assumptions.

Leroy Laney built his first model ship when he was in the second grade. So taken was he with the project that for years after he would receive from his mother new and more elaborate model kits each birthday and Christmas.

When it came to throwing a holiday party, the good folks at MC&A and Island Partners Hawaii knew how to do it right.

However entertaining the competition of developmental theories might be, ultimately there's little sense in trying to parse the effect that devoting himself to ballet had on Jacob Ly's life from whatever innate ability to focus and excel that Ly may have already possessed.

What do you do when your slippers break? To Rebekah Kamemoto, a sophomore at La Pietra Hawaii School for Girls, the answer had always seemed obvious enough: You buy a new pair, right?

Thelma Suzuki and Roxanne "Kea" Young have been friends long enough that Suzuki can be straight about what she wants. And on this cool, overcast Tuesday morning, what Suzuki wants is a little more jelly.

When faced with the choice between training for a marathon or refining his golf game lo those many years ago, Blair Hoashi took the single step that began a journey of untold miles.

It's always a thrill when the fruits (and veggies) of the ‘Iolani School gardening club's ardently exercised labors come to harvest.

It is uncertain whether Alvin Yee is familiar with the works of British philosopher Alan Watts, although given the reach of Yee's curiosity, it certainly wouldn't be a surprise.

When 18-year-old Sadako Yama­naka (nee Wata­nabe) left Wai­kapu, Maui, in 1939 to pursue an education in fashion design in Cali­for­nia, there was little to suggest that her future would be determined by anything but her own considerable determination and will.

Certainly there were times, after the death of her husband and amid four major surgeries in five years, when Charlene Lee could have despaired. But as understandable as the reaction would have been, to those who know Lee well, nothing would have been more out of character.

When a powerful storm blew the roof off a Molo­kai Ranch storage building across from the family home, Hor­cajo and his brothers collected sheets of corrugated metal debris, flattened them with hammers and rocks, and fashioned a small seafaring vessel.

There's ample cause for celebration whenever Elwood Asing and his wife, Pam, make it back to Hono­lulu for a visit.

Derrick Santiago never had a problem getting people to follow him. It was knowing where to lead them that took some work. "It was a very, very long process," said Santiago, the 2014 Adult Friends for Youth Young Person of the Year.

When Shigeichi and Yukie Naka­moto founded Bere­ta­nia Florist in 1937, they likely could not have foreseen that their little shop would survive across four generations of family proprietorship and 76 years of community life.

A dozen years ago, Wahiawa resident Ray Santana caught a story on the nightly news about the Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom, an annual cross-country motorcycle ride in support of prisoners of war/missing in action, and decided on the spot that he just had to do it.

When Kaimuki Middle School health teacher Minette Fernandez collapsed with heart failure in the middle of class in May, her students knew exactly what to do. Thanks to their quick action in calling 911, paramedics arrived just in time to save Fernandez's life.

By the time he was 18 months old, it was obvious enough that Amy Zang's little boy Brandon had some challenges to address.

These are difficult days for Janella Martin, but you wouldn't know it from talking to her. Her tone is matter-of-fact as she works her way through the Job-like roll call of ills that have befallen her since she was first diagnosed with lupus at age 14.

Ken Hiraki wanted to make sure his daughter Maya's 15th birthday last year would be memorable. Birthday luau? Those are for babies. Spa day? So done. Slumber party? Zzz.

It's just after noon on a warm summer day in Manoa as Nancy Yoshida sits down with neighbor Jo Ann Yana­zaki and a tardy guest to share a few remembrances from a life filled with everyday eventfulness.

When Kekoa James was weighing options for his Eagle Scout project, he could easily have opted for something low-key, low-fuss, and -- as far as such things are possible -- low-stress.

Credit that chewy little koan to Kelly Park, who recently bid “ahn nyeong hee ga se yo” to a postgraduate gig in her native South Korea to return to the University of Hawaii to further her studies in economics.

If all goes according to plan, Zoe Cipres' glamorous (not really), pampered (think again), leisurely (keep thinking) life as a international model will someday soon reach its expiration date.

Had the horrific collision George Handgis survived back in 2012 left him with broken bones or a collapsed lung or — heaven forbid — even a serious spinal injury, perhaps it would be easier for people to understand.

Tucked securely within Meghan Nakamura's cache of indelible childhood memories are sepia-toned recollections of summer vacations to Lahaina, of long afternoons on the links learning the ins and outs of junior golf, of tag-along days to the hospital with her father, a radiologist.

To properly appreciate the significance of Ishon Mons' work on behalf of Kauai's endangered Newell's shearwater (ao) population, it helps to know a few things about the charming little black-topped birdies.

As a single mother struggling to get a foothold in a new country, Aleli Vinoya did whatever she could to make sure that her eldest daughter, Nicole Gasmen, would have better opportunities than she herself did growing up in her native Philippines.

When Nohea Chang speaks of "the most challenging, fatiguing, fulfilling job" she's ever had, she isn't referring to the 40 years she spent as a teacher.

Praise be, the Kenon Kaho­ano Graduation Party Committee is officially, happily, wearily, let's-think-twice-before-we-ever- do-this-again-ily released from duty.

Phuong Nguyen never considered himself a math and science guy. At least not until middle school at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Pearl City, where teacher Sylvia Tsuda distilled for him the essence of what the two disciplines are all about.

When you can drive a golf ball 240 yards, shoot consistently in the low 70s and stay cool as Kapa­lua trade in the heat of back-nine battle, there's not a lot of ambiguity about what is expected of you.

In the hours and days following the birth of her child, Luana Yee received a most unusually somber procession of callers. "People kept saying, ‘I'm so sorry,'" she recalls. "They gave their condolences."

As a mentor to young public school teachers, Laura Fuku­moto could focus on the pedagogical practices she has researched, tested and refined for more than 40 years.

Uncle Herman had heard that someone, a Tongan guy if he wasn't mistaken, wanted to fly over to help rebuild homes. Great, Herman Paleka thought, we could use the help.

You can't put a price on what volunteer Lillian Takeda does for the Kua­kini Health System, but you could certainly fill out one heck of a timecard.

To see as Rachel Handlin sees is to be ever present, ever engaged in the emergent moment.

If there were anything else at all that Nathan and Vicki Traller could do to save their daughter, they surely would.

Molly Jenkins loves learning just as much as she loves children. But neither motivated her to become a teacher. For Jenkins, 29, teaching is a direct and effective means of addressing inequalities in education and the social problems that arise from them.

Kid loves video games. Kid wants to know how video games are made. Kid reads the Wikipedia version of how it all works. In most cases that's the end of it. In the Klein household the narrative stretches a bit further.

If destiny was a real thing, Hieu Pham knew it was her destiny to marry John Stuart. They had met when Pham was working at a Vietnamese restaurant in Virginia and Stuart, an IT manager for General Motors, was a hungry customer with no idea how to order off a Vietnamese menu.

There is a story Hieu Pham Stuart tells about her early life in Tuy Hoa, Vietnam. Like many of the stories from her extraordinary life, it is at once joyful, tragic and ultimately reaffirming.

Stranded some 8,300 miles from his pregnant wife, unsure when he'd ever be able to return, Indra­jit Guna­se­kara needed something to occupy his worried mind.

Ari Dalbert's gifts include not just a knack for memorizing complex soliloquies, but the ability to evoke powerful emotions through voice and movement and a talent for personalizing Shakespere's words and bringing 400-year-old characters to vital presence.

Depending on the time of day, 24-year-old Nick Clark may be one of any number of things: a photographer, a security guard, a wedding assistant.

On Monday morning, with the clock winding down and the final stroker on his team in position to gain an advantage with a 3-foot touch, 83-year-old Warren Wong perked to the sound of uncertainty.

In a technology-driven society where the iMiracle of six months ago is one overhyped product launch removed from obsolescence, Terence "Yoda" Yorga's cellphone repair kiosk on the corner of Atkinson Drive and Kapiolani Boulevard stands as a refreshingly retrograde refuge for unmediated human contact.

Years of intensive medical training in his native China taught Gong Hong Au about the mechanics of the human heart. An additional year of government-mandated study of herbal remedies and acupuncture unlocked the mysteries of traditional Chinese medicine.

You could, perhaps, pull the wool over the collective eyes of the police, but could you fool a ficus, shuck a schefflera, jive a juniper? For 14-year-old Chloe Dunster, the question deserved investigation.

There's no accounting for chemistry. How else might we explain the fact that the charming Chihuahua-terrier soon to be known as Bingo had been twice returned to the Hawaiian Humane Society before prospective pop No. 3 Jorge Molestina walked in the door.

It was 1974, Wannette Gomes recalls, and she, an impetuous 19-year-old from Alia­manu, was at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Ala., for basic training.

The administrative services department over at Island Insurance is by creed and deed low-profile. They do what they do well and generally don't call a lot of attention to themselves.

If you never figured Dr.Steven Minaglia for a double-crosser, clearly you were not paying attention. Where, pray tell, were you when Minaglia was swimming an hour and a half three mornings a week?

You wonder: How did Toshi Wata­ba­ya­shi become a master mahjong teacher? He tells you: His golf game bit the dust. There's a bit more to it than that, but that's as good a starting point as any. And, as Wata­ba­ya­shi teaches, patient effort is all it takes to get what you're after.

Los Chaparros Mexican Restaurant on Beretania Street is not literally Ajan­than "A.T." The­va­ra­jah's "house," but the ebullient 24-year-old shift leader can be forgiven for insisting that it is.

It's game day at Makiki District Park, and the mighty RavenHawks of the i9 Sports soccer league are in fine form.

The depth of Nakoa Farrant's passion for science has always been evident, but certainly never more so than when he recently spent time logging raw ocean-floor data aboard a 211-foot exploration vessel in the Caribbean.

Normajean Cavell slowly rotates the grips that are attached to the straps attached to the tree that bears a portion of her weight as she slowly contracts her biceps and raises herself from the grass.

When your office is a third of an acre of lush grass and sunshine and your clients do all the legwork and you measure your daily returns in the twitching paws of dreaming pups, you, dear sir or madam, are a winner in the game of life.

As a young woman in the 1950s, Irene Ma­tsuo was a devoted viewer of the local variety show "Televi Digest."

Long before he directed "A Clockwork Orange" and "2001: A Space Odyssey," Stanley Kubrick cut his directorial teeth on a nine-minute film titled "The Flying Padre," about a Catholic priest in New Mexico who uses an airplane to minister to his congregation.

It could have started with the early childhood in Italy or the trans-Atlantic relocation to Maryland or the even the final move to Hawaii. But it didn't.

As vice principal at Washington Middle School, it was Susan Minami-Sato’s job to deal with kids like Jowana Lobendahn.

A psychologist, a soldier and a dog walk into a Mexican restaurant, but you needn't bother waiting for a punch line. Shannon Curry and her colleagues at the Hawaii Canine Assistance Network deal strictly with happy endings.

On the surface it seemed a career plan executed to perfection. John Cheever — environmentally conscious, conservation-minded, humanitarian-in-bud — made the most of a top high school education at Punahou School, matriculated at elite Cornell University, where he earned a degree in environmental science, then landed a seemingly plum job doing environmental planning and assessments.

She never saw it coming. A sophomore fullback on last season's Pac-Five girls varsity soccer team, Dayna Sur was patrolling the area in front of the Wolfpack goal when a player from the other team took a chance on a hard shot in traffic.

There were no celestial trumpets blaring, no angels descending, when Markus Osterlund picked up the French horn for the first time six years ago.

Whether in impoverished areas of Cebu or Nairobi or on the crisply manicured grounds of Chaminade University in Kaimuki, Jerry Richmond understands well the instructive power of her immediate physical and cultural environments.

Just 25 years old, Mahe Vakauta of Ewa Beach has never known the benefit of time on his side.

It's worth a couple of hard blinks when a person known for his selfless acts, the kind who craves credit and recognition the way most of us pine for an IRS audit, waves the flag for naked self-interest.

Erin Carroll can't wait to see the world. In the meantime she's found a way to bring the world to her.

Assuming all her buses are running on schedule, it's usually just before midnight when Miri­ama Asi returns home to Kalihi from her job at the Subway restaurant in Manoa.

At a fundraising auction 18 years ago, give or take, Debra Lau bid for and won a background role in a Ballet Hawaii production of "The Nutcracker."

When Scott Sakata climbs into bed each night, he lays head to pillow with the peace of knowing his efforts have allowed less fortunate people do the same.

Katherine Henderson hasn't set foot on Hawaii soil since she and her adoptive family left the islands more than 50 years ago.

If your aim in life is to catch Patti Franklin in a foul mood, perhaps you'd be better off pursuing a more achievable goal, like presenting the collected works of Thomas Mann via interpretive dance or selling tickets for that Chumbawamba reunion concert.

Micah Fisher is 30 years old. This is a useful if disconcerting fact to keep in mind when attempting to document Fisher's personal, academic and professional accomplishments over the past decade or so.

This week's column comes courtesy of Hahaione Elementary School reporter-for-a-day Christopher Petrides and is based on his interview with his grandfather.

Donna Fouts insists she’s the nicest person ever you’ll want to meet. Just not on the soccer field.

When Damien Memorial School senior Ethan Dayton steps to the dais May 26 to deliver his valedictory address, he'll do so with the wisdom of a young man who has not only reached a worthy academic milestone, but one who has seen his way through a personal journey of grief, love and self-discovery.

Antonita Phillip knew her youngest daughter, Junny, needed more help than she could get at home in Onoun, Chuuk.

When Chanz Palau was first diagnosed with autism at age 3, doctors told his mother that it was unlikely he would ever speak.

It may be true that the character of the worker is revealed by the tools she selects, but in the case of Lolly Romano — whose tools of trade include bulging bags of bouncing balls and not-so-bouncy beanbags, a fleet of modified trikes and go-carts, storerooms of hand-painted cardboard dinosaurs, and trunkloads of paddles and pulleys and fishing rods and catapults — perhaps it is wiser to focus on the results.

Sensei Mary Mineko Weite has taught Japa­nese calligraphy long enough — some 20 years at the Wahiawa Community School alone — to know that what is rendered in free-flowing stroke on washi paper is often the truest statement of the artist in the moment.

Having spent the better part of his 70 years escaping to and from one exotic locale to another, Ed Gardner fancies himself something of an expert on the paradisiacal.

At Oak Canyon Junior High School in Lindon, Utah, spring is announced not just by sunshine and snowmelt and bird songs, but also by bottle rockets and hot air balloons and perfectly good eggs catapulted to the heavens.

Matthew Hayakawa would have you believe that he's just another shiftless 19-year-old who whiles away his days watching his beloved Oklahoma City Thunder on TV and playing "Call of Duty" until the wee hours.

The police warned her not to cross the line, a warning that anyone who knows Lela Hubbard would recognize as a gold-embossed invitation to do just the opposite.

Pity poor Lea DiMarchi. For four years now the love-addled lass has chased fickle Demetrius only to be overshadowed by her supposed friend Hermia, fought over by the aforementioned Demetrius and a magically demented Lysander, and subjected to the mischievous enchantments of the sprite Puck.

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