Faculty Reminisce About Time as Teenagers

Courtney Ortega, Reporter

It seems as if the campus changes just a little every year, but no one knows more about these changes than faculty members who are also RHS alumni. Physical education teacher Ms. Waynette Mitchell and math teachers Mrs. Maria Oka and Ms. Summer Slayter have firsthand accounts of how much has changed since they were students at the school.

When Ms. Mitchell attended high school in the early ‘70s, the population was over 3,000 students. That’s almost twice the amount of students the campus has now, with a student body of 1,300.  Portables lined the student parking lot in order to accommodate the number of students on campus. Eventually, the 70s wing and O- building were built.

Another difference was the length of the school day. “We started school at 8 a.m. and ended at 2:55 p.m.,” Ms. Mitchell said.

Students also had more time to eat with longer lunch periods and meals that could be bought with what many consider loose change now. “Lunch was only 25 cents and dessert was 10 cents,” Ms. Mitchell said. “Even though the school day was an hour longer, we had a full hour of lunch.”

Nineties alumnae Ms. Oka and Ms. Slayter remember the use of chalkboards instead of dry erase boards in the classrooms. Closed-captioned televisions didn’t arrive until the last decade so daily bulletins were read aloud by teachers every morning.

“The schedule is way different now, especially with the seven periods, and we didn’t have TASK at all,” Ms. Oka said. Students maintained a six period schedule up until this school year and TASK was only added also in the last decade.
During Ms. Slayter and Mrs. Oka’s time in school, lunches were a mere dollar. Saimin was even one of the choices for lunch and a jukebox would play music during lunch.

“My favorite was the corn chowder and tuna sandwich,” Ms. Slayter said.

Requirements to graduate high school in the ‘90s were different than today. Students needed to pass the Hawaii State Test of Essential Competencies (HSTEC) in order to graduate. “It wasn’t like the HSA now,” Ms. Oka said. “The test had general questions, like how to balance a check.”

Another difference is the steady rise of credits needed to graduate from high school. Currently, students need 24 credits to graduate from a Department of Education school, unlike 20 years ago when the requirement was 20 credits.

With Homecoming a recent memory, Ms. Oka remembers when leadership classes built parade floats.  “They were actually decorated golf carts and the decoration for the homecoming assembly always involved a lot of balloons,” Ms. Oka said. “It seems like people had more school spirit back then but maybe that’s just my perception.”