Lieutenant Governor Tsutsui’s New Hawaii Intermediate/Middle School Challenge Initiative

At a press conference held at 10:00 a.m. today, Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui announced his plan to develop a new initiative geared towards enhancing the learning experience of intermediate and middle school students throughout the State.

“The Hawaii Intermediate/Middle School Challenge will endeavor to provide a comprehensive social and educational foundation that will enrich the lives of intermediate/middle school students throughout the State through exposure to a broad base of programs and activities, outside of regular instructional hours,” said Lt. Governor Tsutsui.  “The scope of the program will span academic enrichment, arts and culture, and sports and will be designed to help prepare the students for high school, college, the workforce, their communities and beyond.”

Lt. Governor Tsutsui at the press Conference

Lt. Governor Tsutsui at the press Conference

Studies indicate that students between the grades of 6th and 8th are often left on their own during the hours immediately following the conclusion of school.  Furthermore, studies also show that crimes committed by or against juveniles occur with greater frequency on schools days and roughly between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.  Efforts to increase or improve school attendance, behavior and coursework have proved key indicators in whether a middle school student will graduate.  Keeping our keiki engaged in school and positive activities that will enhance their learning experience will help them succeed in school and in life.

“The Hawaii State Department of Education welcomes opportunities to work with community partners to provide enrichment activities for our middle-school students,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, Hawaii State Department of Education.   “This is a significant time in a young person’s life, and initiatives such as this help our keiki stay in school and succeed.”

Effective and positive after-school programs provide not only an educational benefit to students but also a social value to the overall community by reducing juvenile crime.  The State has long focused on providing after-school programs to our State’s elementary and high school students; however, successful programs for intermediate/middle school students have been sporadic and decentralized.  In October 2012, the Department of Education (DOE) introduced the Intermediate Athletics Pilot program, to be piloted in the Zones of School Innovation (ZSI) in the Nanakuli-Waianae complex, and the Kau-Keaau-Pahoa complex on Hawaii Island.  Through partnership with generous community donors, the DOE introduced several sports for boys and girls last fall to several campuses.  All intermediate school athletes are required to maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) to participate.

While programs like these will make a difference in the lives of our students, because there is currently no comprehensive program to provide intermediate/middle schools with the support and guidance to implement these effective and positive after-school programs statewide, the Hawaii Intermediate/Middle School Challenge will work with the organizations currently utilizing successful platforms at the various intermediate/middle schools throughout the State, with the goal of bringing these programs under one umbrella organizational structure.

Board of Education member Keith Amemiya, Washington Middle School All-Stars member Macey Honjiyo, and Supt. Kathryn Matayoshi.

Board of Education member Keith Amemiya, Washington Middle School All-Stars member Macey Honjiyo, and Supt. Kathryn Matayoshi.

Hawaii Intermediate/Middle School Challenge will start immediately after-school and is intended to be a comprehensive and structured statewide program to fill the gap of youth activities available to students between the 6th and 8th grade.  Programs offered will be from three general categories—academic enrichment, arts and culture, and sports.  Currently, the majority of existing intermediate/middle school programs is supported by unpredictable federal funding, a more reliable source of funding would provide greater stability for the programs, as well as greater participation.  Accordingly, using a community based approach the program will seek to utilize available federal and state funds, while also partnering with the schools, parents and the private sector to provide funding and resources to facilitate the program’s success.   The partnership with these stakeholders will ensure that the after-school programs will be well established in their respective communities and will likely be financially viable for the long-term.

Program goals include:
·        Continuing the Department of Education’s vision of utilizing a school-community network approach to engage community-wide support and responsibility for our intermediate/middle school students’ education, health and well-being.
·        Providing students at all intermediate/middle schools within the State, the opportunity to participate in before- or after-school programs that will enrich and encourage student growth in academics, personal responsibility and maturity, creativity and the development of social skills.
·        Reducing the number of student dropouts by providing a seamless transition of after-school programs that promote student participation in school related functions from elementary through high school.
·        Providing health, fitness, educational and social enrichment opportunities to intermediate/middle school students.

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