Not since the spring of 2020 had HBA students attended in-person school five days a week. Thus on August 2, as students arrived for the 2021-2022 school year, there was an added sense of newness as the schoool scheduled resumed with a regular in-person school for all students, every day.
Last school year was a trying time for many at HBA. Attending online classes, teaching from home, and learning from home amid a pandemic were just a few challenges that both teachers and students had to face during that year. Like many students and teachers, English teacher Dawson Vorderbruegge was relieved for the resumption of full-time in-person school. During the first week of school, Vorderbruegge said, “I’m very thankful and glad that we can return 100%. Everyone suffered under the concurrent model—teachers had to work more, students learned less, everyone had less fun.”
However, in recent days, the COVID-19 case count for the state of Hawaii has crept up. This rise in Covid infections in the state has the school administration transitioning the school to back to a hybrid format. Starting August 16, students have the option of coming on campus four days a week or staying fully online. This hybrid format is scheduled to end on Friday, September 3.
For students who have chosen to remain in in-person school, the high school has opened up a new gathering area for students named “Eagle’s Landing”. This new area is located behind the gym building, adjacent to the D building driveway. Even though the area is spartan—a large asphalt area with tents, foldable tables and chairs—junior Trislyn Maeda said, “I think the Eagle’s Landing has lots of potential, even despite the crazy weather conditions thrown our way.” She added, “I like to think that we embrace those times when it’s pouring rain because when it does we all laugh at those getting soaked and we all gather under the tents, making fun of how crazy this all is.”
Despite the COVID situation, many students are excited to be back on campus. Student council president Aaron Omon said, “I’m excited about the many opportunities that this year has to offer now that everyone is back in school.” One of Omon’s many tasks as president is to plan school events. “I look forward to planning Spirit Week and other social events with the Student Council that can safely bring people together in fun and fellowship,” he said.
Junior class president Lauren Toda has a similar outlook for the first quarter. “I’m looking forward to doing more class events and planning fun activities for my grade,” she said. For much of last school year, student and class councils found it hard to create a typical experience when it came to school or class events. Socials were had to be virtual and there was no Winter Banquet last December. “This year, we hope to make up for lost time, and plan a lot of events that will bring our class closer together,” Toda added.
The new school year also brought a handful of new faculty members to HBA. Returning to HBA after four years is history teacher Robert Weismantel. Filling in for department chair Lynne Nakano while she’s on a one-year sabbatical, Weismantel is excited to be back. “I am excited to learn new apps and ways of teaching while we as a community press on and get through this pandemic together. I feel that these obstacles are opportunities for personal and professional growth,” he said.
High school principal Marsha Hirae is also facing a significant transition: she will be retiring at the start of the second semester, in January 2022. With 25 years at HBA behind her, Hirae said that the events of the past year or so has been unprecedented. “It has been the craziest, most exhausting and challenging two years in my 25 years at HBA. I am thankful to have been part of this unprecedented time in the history of our school. HBA has endured many struggles in its 72-year history and this pandemic is no different. We continue to rely on God for His wisdom, His direction, and His strength,” she said. However, Hirae emphasized that she remains hopeful for the new school year. “I am most excited about having our student body back together again on campus.”