Appreciation for inspiring teachers

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The following editorial was originally published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Sunday, June 3, 2018 as part of the "Raise Your Hand" column in the Insights section.

By: Lauren Caday, James Campbell High School, Class of 2018
Megan Woolsey, James Campbell High School, Class of 2018
Allyson Calamayan, James Campbell High School, Class of 2018

As children, we are taught to always express our gratitude - for the big things and for everything in between. However, certain people in our lives are so impactful that a “thank you” doesn’t suffice. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, senior AVID students at Campbell High School addressed the need of teacher appreciation by curating care packages for teachers. They even wrote letters of appreciation as a testament to their teachers’ unwavering inspiration. Here are two of them:

Dear Ms. Maurea Walsh,

Of all the essays and all the papers we’ve written, stringing together a group of words and a cluster of sentences for you was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done. No words can describe how amazingly grateful we are to have been your kids, and no amount of appreciation does you justice.

Your impact on each of our lives has been phenomenal. You keep us grounded when we dream too far into the clouds, while at the same time lifting us higher so that we can achieve our goals. At the end of the day, we know you have our best interests at heart. We find comfort knowing that, no matter what we decide to do after high school, we will have your constant love and support.

Our final chapter of high school is coming to a close, as is our final chapter under your instruction. You have made high school worthwhile, and we will never forget the enthusiasm that followed your vibrantly contagious smile. Before we part ways, we just want you to know that you deserve all the happiness in the world, and we want nothing less than for you to finally turn your dreams into a reality. You have sacrificed so many opportunities for yourself because you refused to leave us and that is the biggest sacrifice that an educator can make for their students. We wish you the best of luck on your future endeavours.We love you, and no matter how old we become, we will always be your kids.

With hopes and dreams for the future,
our AVID family

Dear Mr. Kenneth Everett,

There couldn’t have been a better person our class to guide our sophomore minds. You inspire us to be the best versions of ourselves. You have the most compassionate heart and a gift to help your students.

In our sophomore year, you became our teacher. In the days that followed, you became our mentor. The amount of time cannot be recollected to tell you that you have become our greatest friend. Through all of our college research and the anticipation of acceptance letters, you’ve been there with nothing but support. Without you as our teacher, the idea of going to college would not be in the palm of our hands today.

As we near the end of our senior year, we would like to express our utmost thanks for preparing us for this strange event called “reality.” Looking back, we appreciate the little things you’ve empowered us with. From starting your class with an enthusiastic “Good morning, thrill seekers” to dedicating endless hours after school so we can better our future.

You’ve molded us to become passionate leaders and taught your AVID Ohana how to see the best qualities in ourselves. There was never a day where we left your class without new knowledge to share to the world. We can’t express how much you’ve impacted our lives and created a safe place for us. Thank you for helping us grow. We will make you proud.

With love,
Your AVID Ohana

The Value in E-Waste

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The following editorial was originally published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Sunday May 6, 2018 as part of the "Raise Your Hand" column in the Insights section.

By: Carlston Chang, Punahou School Class of 2018
Olivia Stoetzer, St. Andrew's Priory Class of 2019
Dorien James Dacoco, Farrington High School Class of 2018

At St. Andrew’s Schools across from the State Capitol, many old computers, monitors, projectors and printers are stored in the Technology Department taking up valuable space. The old equipment once used by students and teachers years ago but now collect dust.  This situation is far from unique. Throughout our state, schools and individuals struggle to deal with electronic waste (e-waste).

In 2006, e-waste was banned from disposal in Honolulu. Two years later, the Hawaii State Legislature passed the Electronic Waste and Television Recycling and Recovery Act, which requires manufacturers of televisions, computers, computer monitors, and laptops to provide recycling options for their consumers. Unfortunately, laws have done little to stop the quietly growing epidemic of e-waste in Hawaii and across the globe.

In 2012, the United Nations conservatively estimated that the e-waste produced that year was enough to fill the Empire State building 100 times, and the number of cellular phones on the planet was one-third greater than the number of toilets in the world. Since then, the use of technology in developing nations has soared and the amount of e-waste has grown with it.

Disposing of e-waste improperly is harmful for the environment. Burning e-waste without proper environmental protocols emits numerous hazardous chemicals into the atmosphere. Burying and dumping e-waste results in substances such as mercury and lead seeping into the ground, contaminating surface and groundwater. Workers who handle e-waste at illegal disposal sites are also subject to unsafe and hazardous conditions.

Recycling e-waste responsibly has economic benefits that go along with its environmental benefits. Phones, computers, and other electronics each contain tiny amounts of precious metals. The UN estimated that the value of global e-waste in 2014 was about $35 billion. In 2015, Achim Steiner, the UN Environment Chief, called our e-waste problem, “economic stupidity because we are throwing away an enormous amount of raw materials that are essentially re-usable.”

As technology advances and manufacturers continue to design products meant to last less than two years, the e-waste epidemic will worsen if nothing is done.

In Hawaii, the law that requires Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) to provide recycling options for e-waste has potential to do good for the community. Unfortunately, the programs offered by OEMs are under-utilized since many consumers are unaware of the need to dispose of e-waste properly and their recycling options.

We can solve our problem of e-waste through heightened awareness. Taking steps to responsibly dispose of e-waste can do good for the environment and community. Goodwill, for example, has a robust e-waste recycling program available for the public. Other community groups hold monthly e-waste drives for community members to drop off old and unused electronics.

Today, it is estimated that only 12.5% of e-waste is recycled. Though e-waste makes up only two percent of our nation’s landfills, it is responsible for seventy percent of the toxic waste in those landfills.