In addition to the work that teachers do for students, there is so more that takes place behind the scenes for a school to function properly.

Students don’t normally recognize the work that is being done to keep our campuses clean and safe, and our school day flowing smoothly. With the Covid-19 pandemic, many of these tasks have become even more complex and challenging. The Eagle Eye reached out to a handful of support staff on the high school campus to hear about what their experience has been like this past year.

Mrs. Xi Zi Song & Mr. Damin Zheng, Facilities Staff

With Chinese teacher Christy Qin and Journalism Adviser Eunice Sim helping as interpreters, the Eagle Eye interviewed the couple (who are Mandarin speakers) about their work at HBA.

Mrs. Xi Zi Song & Mr. Damin Zheng are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting classrooms, offices and shared areas on the high school campus. It’s easy to take them for granted as they do most of their work after the school day ends. Photograph by Jeremiah Seng (’23).

Eagle Eye: What has been the most challenging thing about your job this past year?
Mrs. Song: 2020 was an unusual year; there have been unprecedented challenges in our daily lives and daily work. To ensure the students can learn in a safe environment, we need to make sure we disinfect, kill all of the germs, and do deep cleaning. We have never done this before so it’s been a new challenge for us. But looking back at the year, as God’s children, and through prayer and His guidance, we’ve made it through the year safely. I see this as God’s blessing and grace, and we’re thankful.

Eagle Eye: What do you enjoy most about your job?
Mrs. Song: We love HBA. We try our best to work hard and to do a good job, in order to honor our school’s leaders, our co-workers and our students. After all our hard work, we get to appreciate how beautiful the campus is. And seeing clean classrooms makes us feel proud and gratified.

Mrs. Lois Kwon, School Nurse

School nurse Lois Kwon stands at the doorway to the health room at the high school campus. Photograph by Noah Camacho (’23)

School nurse for the middle and high school, Lois Kwon has worked at HBA since 2011. As the head nurse, she provides immediate health care for students who come to the Health Room with an illness or injury, and works in coordination with teachers, athletic trainers and counselors to make sure that the health needs of the students are met on campus and off campus on field trips and camps. Kwon is also responsible for maintaining student health records and ensuring HBA is in compliance with Hawaii State health laws. 

Eagle Eye: How has the pandemic changed your job in the day to day?
Mrs. Kwon: Daily temperature checks, mandatory mask use, social distancing practices and the multitude of hand-washing stations has really helped to keep illness rates down. The students who come to school are a lot healthier, so I mainly see students who need help with minor injuries.

Eagle Eye: What has been the most challenging thing about your job this past year?
Mrs. Kwon: Keeping current with state health rules and CDC guidelines for school safety was a real challenge early on, especially over the summer as we planned for this school year. No one knew much about COVID-19 and how long the pandemic would last. There were many times we had plans in place but had to change them in response to new guidelines. Everyone had to learn how to be flexible with plans made.

Mr. Thatcher King, Teacher Assistant

Teacher assistant Thatcher King directs juniors to an assignment during their British Literature and Composition class. He was subbing for a teacher on paternity leave. Photograph by Noah Camacho (’23.)

From managing morning temperature screenings as students arrive at school to subbing for teachers in the classroom, Teacher Assistant Thatcher King’s work days are never the same. He came to HBA at the start of this new school year and also helps to coach the cross country team.

Eagle Eye: What has been the most challenging thing about your job this past year?
Mr. King: Most challenging thing probably has been trying to follow the distance protocols. I love making faces, seeing smiles, high fives, fist bumps and most things prohibited by social distancing or eliminated by the masks. (I just want it all to be normal again!)

Eagle Eye: Do you have a memorable moment to share from working at the school?
Mr. King: Learning everyone’s name has been fun and interesting. (Too many mistakes at this point.) The masks don’t help at all with that. I’m also getting adjusted to being called “Mr. King” or as my cross country kids call me “Coach King”. My whole life I’ve been called Thatcher, so adding a Mr. to that is different for sure.

Mr. Teoni Obrey, Security Coordinator

Teoni Obrey, security coordinator for HBA’s campuses, is also the boys varsity volleyball coach. Photograph by Connor Malinger (’22)

With two campuses to oversee, Security Coordinator Teoni Obrey and his staff have a lot on their plate. Obrey started this job at HBA in 2014, but he was already the boys varsity volleyball coach before that. His job responsibilities include reviewing the security guards’ daily reports and schedules, scheduling the guards for events and extra coverages, providing the guards with a daily access list (provided by the President’s office) for each campus, and implement standing operating procedures for the campuses.

Eagle Eye: How has the pandemic changed your job in the day to day?
Mr. Obrey: The pandemic has provided us the opportunity to regroup and streamline our daily procedures and protocols such as campus access, traffic flow, etc. There were several times that we needed to make adjustments, which was a great learning opportunity for us.

Eagle Eye: Do you have a memorable moment to share from working at the school?
Mr. Obrey: In the past years, the two memorable moments that come to mind were the 6th grade graduation drive-through and the Senior drive-through events. These were the first events that we had back on our campuses after the shutdowns. Just to be a part of the 80-plus 6th grade families and 110-plus senior families drive-through on our campuses with their decorated vehicles was definitely memorable. [There was] a lot of positive energy and amazing support from our faculty, staff and parents. Both events showed great teamwork by our school community!

Mrs. Arlene Huster, Librarian

While at the front desk of the learning center, librarian Arlene Huster is often juggling a myriad of tasks, from checking out library books, providing tech support remotely over Google Meet, to overseeing students in the library who are there for their guided study periods. Photograph by Dilan Chock-Makiya (’23).

Since HBA moved to virtual learning, librarian Arlene Huster has taken on the role of “tech wizard” when it comes to iPads, the new Chromebooks, and Google Meets. On top of all of that, she oversees the middle and high school library program, making books in our school accessible from home during the pandemic. Huster also had to modify the layout of the library to accommodate classes that needed more classroom space due to social distancing rules.

Huster first came to HBA in 2005 and her job responsibilities include supporting teachers by providing materials needed for their curriculum and also training them in tech tools they can use to teach more effectively,  She also helps students by providing materials both online and in print for their research and recreational reading needs. Huster has been spending a lot of time researching online and tech resources for teachers and students.

Librarian Arlene Huster stands amidst the modified desk layout in the library. Desks are now at least six feet apart and students all sit facing in one direction. This space now also doubles as a classroom for guided study periods as it provides more square footage for social distancing. Photograph by Dilan Chock-Makiya (’23).

Eagle Eye: What has been the most challenging thing about your job this past year?
Mrs. Huster: The most challenging part of this year has been researching and learning about effective ways to teach online and in hybrid situations, learning how to use different tools and sharing that with teachers, and helping trouble shoot the numerous applications and devices we use.

Eagle Eye: Do you have a memorable moment to share from working at the school?
Mrs. Huster: A funny story that comes to mind is when Mr. Frontiera pulled a prank on Mr. Danford Chang and secretly recorded it. He had a student pretend she didn’t get into her top choice college because of something Mr. Chang forgot to do. You could see the angst on Mr. Chang’s face when she told him that. It was kind of mean but really funny!

Ms. Michelle Oda, Student Services Secretary

Long-time HBA employee Michele Oda, Student Services secretary for the high school, manages the attendance system, which includes following up on absences and tardies, and reminding teachers to take their attendance. Photograph by Dilan Chock-Makiya (’23).

Student Services Secretary Michelle Oda has been working at HBA since 1995. She handles a variety of tasks, from printing out school IDs to checking if students present in school or not.

Eagle Eye: What’s your favorite thing about working here?
Ms. Oda: Through my many years here, I’ve met many special co-workers, students, and parents that have impacted my life. I am very grateful for the friendship, lessons, and nurturing I received. I like to learn things. HBA gives us many opportunities to grow spiritually & mentally. I like that the school invests in us via Inservice workshops.

Eagle Eye: Do you have a memorable moment to share from working at the school? Interesting or funny stories?
Ms. Oda: I have worked with a lot of teachers that were students at HBA. It’s fun to see how they have matured and remember how they were as students. It’s also always interesting to see how they address me. Some can’t wait to call me by my first name. After all, they are now colleagues.

Ms. Sharon Darapiza, Student Services Secretary

Sharon Darapiza, Student Services Secretary, still manages to greet students warmly behind a shield and a mask. She manages the student supply pick-ups and drop-off, and ensures deliveries to faculty and staff end up at the right mailrooms, classrooms, and offices. Photograph by Noah Camacho (’23).

Sharon Darapiza, Student Services Secretary, has been at HBA since 2000. She was assigned to the school through a temp agency and eventually was hired to be a permanent secretary.

Eagle Eye: Can you summarize what you do at HBA?
Ms. D (as she is called by students): What I do is too much to enumerate but in a nut shell, I provide help where help is needed. Although I primarily answer the phone calls to our high school campus and direct them respectively, you can also find me washing lunch containers collected in the lost and found bins, leading a 9th grade advisory group, and organizing and arranging parking for our students. But I cannot emphasize enough that my main purpose here at HBA is to provide help wherever help is needed or to help in whatever needs to be done. We are called to serve in whatever capacity God has called us to and so I try to live that out.

Eagle Eye: Do you have a memorable moment to share from working at the school?
Ms. D: A memorable moment for me, though sad, would be the outbreak of COVID-19. Not necessarily COVID-19 itself, but rather seeing the resiliency of our students [as they] push through their studies and adapt to the many changes required by CDC. The incredible abilities of our teachers to be creative in their teaching both online and synchronously [while] maintaining a higher level of learning are beyond me. Our administrators and their tenacity to design class schedules, bell schedules, class and lunch periods and to make everything “gel” was unbelievable. Oh, yes, and let’s not forget the class of 2020 graduation drive on to campus showcasing their nicely decorated cars blaring with upbeat music while parents, friends, relatives, teachers and faculty shouted, “CONGRATULATIONS!” That was amazing and truly unforgettable!