From left to right: Emily Een, Claire Bents, Ethan Lunning, Erin Mchugh, Jacqueline Molina (Photo Credit Rianne Pada)

Aloha St. Olaf Students

January 27, 2016

At the beginning of Kalani’s second semester, students returned from Winter Break to see some new faces on campus. These new faces were student teachers from St.Olaf College, in Minnesota. They are student teachers, coming to Hawaii to learn about culture, and the influence of race, class, and multiculturalism on education. This trip is a project of sorts, for the students to gain perspective on different types of teaching styles and students across America.

Emily Verticchio, shared an interesting viewpoint that she picked up after staying at Hawaii, specifically at Kalani. This story occurred during a class discussion where students were able to ask Ms.Verticchio questions.

“I went to high school in one giant building- it wasn’t outdoors like Kalani is. I was very shocked upon arriving here because I saw students just walking around freely, with not much protest from the security guards. This was so different because my school was like a prison. They would lock the doors and we’d have to wear our ID’s around our necks on a lanyard. They’d scan our ID cards when we came in and also when we did something bad. The dress code, for example, was a lot stricter. I just think it’s interesting to see how the these two high schools contrast.”
Ms. Verticchio is studying to become an English teacher. “English was always my favorite class, and I love to read and write.”

Many students were interested in what college would be like. To these inquisitions, she had this to say.

“College is pretty great. You’re able to pick your classes, and it’s fun to live in dorms and not have to go home to your parents everyday.”

Another student from St.Olaf, named Claire Bents said, “I’m very excited to be here,I just really like connecting to students and seeing how different classrooms are set up and seeing how the curriculum is taught.”  You can read her interview below.

Having college students on campus proved to be a great learning experience for those in high school. The students from St.Olaf College were able to give insight to the Kalani students, and help them with their work as much as possible. Having these student teachers on campus changed many people’s perspectives, and those of us at Kalani were able to learn just as much from them as they learned from us. Kalani is grateful to have allowed these students to be on our campus and learn more about us.


I was able to sit down with Ms. Bents to have a conversation about her trip to Kalani.

Q: Is Kalani the only school you’re visiting?

A: No, I’m here through Tuesday and then going to Kamehameha.

Q: What makes you want to be a teacher?

A: I always loved education, and I realized how powerful education is. Education is super important because it teaches you to think and you’re less likely to be taken advantage of because you have a thinking ability. You can teach someone to look at two sides of argument, and it can help to improve society.

Q: I agree, because I’m in APUSH and it has changed the way I look at politics and America in general.

A: Yeah, my APUSH class was only about 10 people. At the end of the year, we were a family. R: Q: What type of history do you teach?

A: I teach US History and World History, and the history of Minnesota. There’s a lot of different categories.

Q: What are you looking forward to in teaching high school kids?

A: You guys are at such a great age and are able to reason more fully than middle schoolers.  You’re at such an interesting transition in your life, even though you’re not fully an adult. In social studies, it’s good to learn skills and abilities.

Q: Do you like what you’ve seen of Hawaii so far?

A: Yes, it’s beautiful and it has such an interesting history. In US History, we don’t get to look at state history, and we don’t get to see the history of the islands and other big things that has happened here.

Q: How much of Hawaii have you seen?

A: I got here on Monday but my family came here earlier. My family and I visited Maui.

Q: How was your experience in high school, and how do you plan to use that experience when you communicate to students here?

A: That’s a good question. Could I have more context with it?

Q: Like, did you like high school?

A: I really enjoyed high school and I took a lot of classes in high school where you had to think and hold conversations. In high school, I would sit in class wondering, “When are we going to use this in the future?” As a teacher I try to connect history to students now. I really like storytelling and with stories you don’t have to remember dates and names.

Q: What are some of your expectations upon arriving in Hawaii?

A: I was expecting to learn and see how similar and how different education was in different states. I’m interested in learning how things are different. I want to see how the Hawaiian culture affects people here. I want to see how multiculturalism affects people too.

Q: Was there anything about Kalani that surprised you?

A: I really like how you guys had a ten minute recess to walk around, and how you can eat wherever you want. At our school, we were restricted to one area. The juniors and seniors were allowed to go off campus, but we didn’t have much time like you guys. We could never have open classrooms because we would freeze.

Q: Was there a moment that stuck out to you?

A: I got to teach a lesson on World War II, and I feel like I had a good discussion with the students. Even just to talk to students and see into their lives, like their plans for the weekend or their ideas.

R: Did you know what you wanted to do when you were in high school?

A: By the time I graduated, I had a pretty good idea. I knew I wanted to teach, and I just had to figure out how to do that. I had at least a pretty good idea of what to do. Now actually, I know I wanna teach, but I’m not exactly sure what level. I might want to go back and get my doctorates to teach college. I definitely want to teach in middle school for at least five years.

Q: Me, personally, I get so scared thinking about the future and what’s gonna happen. I know I’m gonna leave and be apart from my friends. Like, leaving high school and getting old…

A: It’s scary.

Q: Definitely. Did you feel that way in high school?

A: I was always the kid that was super homesick. My dad died two months into college, and it was rough.

Q: I’m sorry.

A: Yeah, at that point I just wanted to survive. It was pretty rough. Everyone around me looked like we knew what we were doing, but we didn’t. Everyone who looked like they had it together was actually falling apart. Later on in college, my friends and I would be talking and we’d realize we were wrong about each other. Like, “You were falling apart? You look like you had it together!” My advice would be that, it might seem really scary, but it does get a lot better. I know a lot of people who still keep in touch with friends from high school, but I only really talk to my best friend.

Q: What advice would you have to students about to graduate?
A: Take time to be present in what you’re doing. It’s not enough to just survive what you’re doing, you have to live it. Try to get out in the world as much as you can. I know it’s easy to stay in and watch Netflix, and sometimes that’s a good decision, but other times it’s good to go out and see the world. Don’t be afraid to take healthy risks.

Q: I feel like such a baby because I can’t even sleep over at someone’s house without getting scared.

A: Oh yeah. I legitimately cried everyday of my first semester. Then I got into my classes, found some friends and I realized that I was happy where I was. I just had to get used to it.

Q: Did you move to another state?
A: No, I went to college about four hours away from my home.

Q: How were you able to financially handle college?

A: I got a nice academic scholarship, and my parents saved for me. But I know people who work 20 hours a week besides being a full time student. Also, I know students who went to community college to get their GE’s out of the way before transferring. I applied for local scholarships.

Q: Did you play any sports?
A: No, but I was super involved in high school. I was involved in concert band, jazz band, choir, piano and many others. I know some people who are in a lot of clubs and they have activities every night.

Q: Were you insecure in high school?

A: No, I don’t really think so. I had a couple of close friends and we realized that we weren’t gonna be together forever. Happiness comes from yourself, not other people.

Q: Did you have fun at Kalani?

A: I had a lot of fun. I really liked watching lessons and being able to interact with students.

Q: Alright, thank you. It was nice talking to you.

A: You too.

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