Radford Transition Center celebrates 10-year anniversary

Student facilitators Jacqueline Caicedo, Alexandra Skrocki, Charlene Agoot and Trenton Hirschi make a presentation at Radford High School's Transition Center recently.  Photo courtesy of Radford High School

Student facilitators Jacqueline Caicedo, Alexandra Skrocki, Charlene Agoot and Trenton Hirschi make a presentation at Radford High School’s Transition Center recently. Photo courtesy of Radford High School

Samantha Kinnard and Erika Purseglove

Radford High School, Students

Room 112 is home to Radford High School’s transition center (TC) with a wooden plaque on its door that reads, “Malama I Na Haumana,” meaning “Caring for Students.” Since the TC’s inception a decade ago, those involved have done just that, and they are continuing their mission.

More than 60 percent of Radford’s students are military families from all over the world. During the past decade, the TC has worked with its transient population to make new students’ introduction to the school as painless as possible.

Invited guests joined school officials recently with an on-campus celebration to mark the center’s 10-year anniversary. Visitors and Military Youth Advisory Council members including Capt. Mark Manfredi, Navy Region Hawaii chief of staff; Col. David Kirkendall, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam deputy commander; and Capt. Chris Bushnell, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 31; donned lei while gathered around the center’s entrance. The event included a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a performance by the school’s drum line.

Participants emphasized the significance of the center to the students.

“We had 185 new students enroll at Radford during the fall semester, and we make sure they have a place to go,” said Kari Wells, parent community networking coordinator and TC part-time teacher.

The TC is led by 14 volunteer student facilitators who help new students integrate quickly into the school and community. All facilitators had to submit an application, pass an interview, and undergo training before they could start.

“The old trains the new,” said Joy McElhaney, another part-time teacher at the transition center. “They’re given lesson plans that change every quarter.”

“I was just blown away,” said Ronn Nozoe, deputy superintendent. “Talking to the student facilitators was just a remarkable experience.”

Jay Horton, a senior, came to Radford last year and recently became a facilitator.

“We give campus tours, show them where their classes are, and serve as a lunch buddy for a certain day,” Horton said.

Alexander Acosta, a junior who moved from Fort Lewis, Wash. during the middle of the first quarter, credits the TC for providing a place where he can eat.

“It helped provide a place where I can just sit quietly,” Acosta said.

In the second half of the celebration, guests were invited to the library to hear the history behind the center. Principal James Sunday was quick to credit that the TC was the “brainchild” of former Radford High School principal, Robert Stevens.

Stevens was a fixture at the school for more than 40 years as an athletic coach, teacher and counselor before his 14-year tenure as principal.

“What I learned, is what drove me to establish the transition center. I learned that they were unhappy because they had to leave their family on the mainland. I learned that they were angry that they had to leave their friends on the mainland” said Stevens.

Stevens recognized former curriculum coordinator Jan Ikeda as the “brains” of the TC. According to Stevens, “I came up with the original idea for the transition center, and then Jan took the idea and polished it.”

Both saw an opportunity to address the transitioning students’ needs.

“We recognized that we needed to pay attention to our students coming in and provide them a safe place,” Ikeda said.

Facilitators spend time during recess, TASK (study hall), and lunch to assist new students.

“TASK is key and allows the facilitators to teach the curriculum,” said Cindy Schrock, TC coordinator.

Facilitators teach four units which include looking at Radford, adapting to change and coping with stress, charting your course and academic passport, and getting to know Hawaii and the surrounding community. During TASK, new students are invited to the TC to participate in activities such as “Jeopardy” and “The Name Game” that give them the opportunity to interact with other students.

“The transition center was phenomenal in getting me plugged in… and helping me blossom,” said Chandler Carlson class of 2013 alumnus and valedictorian (a sophomore at University of Denver).

It helped make his move to Radford easier than previous moves.

“As parents trying to figure out where to put our kids, the facilitators were phenomenal,” said Dann Carlson, assistant superintendent of schools of facilities and support services (and former Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam deputy commander).

“We have never seen a program like this,” he said.

He said that his two younger children brought the concept and started a similar program at their new school in the Washington, D.C. area.

New students are not the only ones who benefit from the center.

“After being in the program, I noticed the difference we make in the students,” said Charlene Agoot, student facilitator and senior. “Seeing the students smile and laugh gives me confidence.”

“The transition center is a wonderful resource for students new to Hawaii. The center also develops social and leadership skills that will enable young men and women to be successful in life, long after high school. I only wish my children had this resource when they were growing up, moving from location to location. It would have made family life easier,” said Lt. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, deputy commander for United States Pacific Command.

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Category: News