Back-to-school: A guide to ace-ing the new academic year

| July 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
Fort Shafter Elementary School (File Photo)

Fort Shafter Elementary School, along with other Hawaii public schools, will be opening for a new school year soon. (File Photo)

Karen A Iwamoto
Staff Writer
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — School starts on Aug. 7 and 8 for Hawaii’s public school students, and many campuses are hosting orientations, school-supply drop-offs and other new-school events to get students and parents ready to get back in the classrooms. (See the list of orientations below or contact your child’s school for more information.)

This is especially helpful for military families who are constantly on the move and must regularly navigate the process of enrolling children in a new school system.

Hawaii DOE logoThe Hawaii State Department of Education estimates that the Aloha State is the temporary or long-term home for over 300,000 military personnel and their families. Military children make up about 8 percent of the state’s public school enrollment and Hawaii has the highest number of military dependent children per capita in the nation, according to the HIDOE website.

“Going to these orientations gives families an opportunity to meet the principal, staff and teachers at their child’s school,” said Cherry Torres Okahara, the military school liaison for HIDOE.
She said that parents who reach out to the schools and the various military School Liaison Offices are less likely to be stressed because they have taken the opportunity to have their questions answered and concerns addressed.

She also encouraged military families to familiarize themselves with their children’s school curriculum and interests. Students who join clubs or try out for sports are more likely to be involved in their new school and less likely feel alienated and homesick, she said.

The HIDOE has many resources to help military families with school-age children, including a page on its website dedicated to answering those questions most frequently asked by service members (visit and search “military faq”).
What follows is a roundup of general information to help families start the school year on the right foot. (More specific information may be found by visiting and searching “how to enroll.”)

Crossing guards at Hale Kula assist parents and students cross the streets safely. (File photo)

Traffic and Safety
With the start of the school year comes increased traffic. Guardians dropping off students in the morning and picking them up after school should plan accordingly.
Also, be aware of policies regarding school-age children on any of U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii’s installations. Children younger than 10 are not allowed to be unsupervised at bus stops, recreation areas and public facilities, nor are they allowed to walk to or from school alone.
Motorists should be aware of increased pedestrian traffic near schools and crosswalks and exercise caution.

7th grade physical exams
New for the 2017-2018 academic school year is the HIDOE requirement that all students complete a physical examination one year prior to enrolling in the seventh grade. These exams are covered by the Affordable Healthcare Act. For more information visit and search “7th grade physical exam.”

Courtesy photo

Takai Transition Centers
Named for the late U.S. Rep. Mark Takai, these transition centers and their affiliated programs connect new students with student ambassadors who conduct school tours, arrange group lunches and offer social and academic support throughout the school year.
Most of the Army-impacted schools on the island have a Takai Transition Center.
Torres Okahara singled out the centers at Leilehua High School and Aliamanu Elementary School as being outstanding examples.
Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School and Solomon Elementary School on Schofield Barracks also have Takai Transition Centers as does Wheeler Elementary and Middle schools.
Contact your child’s school to find out whether it has a Takai Transition Center on campus.

Bus service
School bus service is available for students from kindergarten to fifth grade who live a mile or more from their school. It’s available to students in sixth to 12th grade who live a mile and a half or more from their school. Students who do not meet these criteria may be able to receive the service on a space available basis.
Free bus passes are available to students who qualify for HIDOE’s free lunch program, students who are foster children, students who are homeless, students whose special education plan includes regular transportation as a related service, students who are directed to attend a school outside their district and students who have three older siblings who are fare-paying bus riders.
For more information on the school bus program, including cost and routes, visit your school’s office and the HIDOE website ( and search “bus service”).

This artist rendering shows what the new Solomon Elementary School campus will look like. The school received a $70 million grant from the Office of Economic Adjustment and the state Department of Education is contributing approximately $15 million in matching funds, for a total of $90 million. (Courtesy of Hawaii State Department of Education)

This artist rendering shows what the new Solomon Elementary School campus will look like. (Courtesy of Hawaii State Department of Education)

Under construction
Construction at the new Solomon Elementary School campus on Schofield Barracks will be underway during the upcoming school year. Because the new campus is adjacent to the current campus, the school has had to make some adjustments.
• A barrier around the construction site will help mitigate noise.
•The kindergarten playground gate will open at 7:30 a.m. and families with strollers may congregate there before the first school bell rings at 7:50 a.m. The Designated stroller areas will conserve space, which will be extremely limited due to construction.
•The gate at the corner of Trimble and Carpenter streets will no longer be available; families are asked to access the campus through the other available gates.
•The school’s courtyard will be closed for improvements to create additional green space. The surrounding walkways will be congested. Families, especially those with strollers, are asked wish their first to fifth grade students well in the front play space. Staff will be available to help students find their classrooms.


Hale Kula Elementary School, (File photo)

Below is orientation information for schools in and around U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii. A full list of military-impacted schools in Hawaii is available at

Fort Shafter/Aliamanu
Aliamanu Elementary School
Fort Shafter
3265 Salt Lake Blvd.
Aug. 2, 8 a.m.: Meet and greet/open house

Shafter Elementary School
2 Fort Shafter (808-832-3560)
Aug. 4, 9 a.m.: School readiness time
(Information on bus coupons, lunch payments,
A+ program, CYS program, school uniforms, etc.)
3 p.m., Aug. 4: Open house

Aliamanu Middle School
Fort Shafter
3271 Salt Lake Blvd.
Aug. 7, 8:15 a.m.: Parent orientation in
school cafeteria

Schofield Barracks
Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School
Corner of Waianae and Ayers avenues
Schofield Barracks (808-305-3400)
Aug. 4, 1:30 p.m.: New parents’ orientation
(In school cafeteria), followed by meet and greet

Solomon Elementary School
Schofield Barracks
2875 Waianae Uka Ave. (808-305-1800)
Aug. 2, 3 p.m.: School supply drop-off

Helemano Elementary School
1001 Ihihi Ave.
Aug. 3, 3 p.m.: Meet and greet

Wahiawa Elementary School
1402 Glen Ave. (808-622-6393)
Aug. 4, 4:30 p.m.: Meet and greet

Wahiawa Middle School
275 Rose St. (808-305-3300)
Orientation information N/A

Leilehua High School
1515 California Ave.
July 31, 8:30 a.m.: School schedule pickup
for sophomores
July 31, 10 a.m.: School schedule pickup for juniors
July 31, 11:30 a.m.: School schedule pickup for
July 31, noon: School schedule pickup,
ID distribution, pay fees for freshmen

Wheeler Army Airfield
Wheeler Elementary School
1 Wheeler Army Airfield
Wahiawa (808-305-9500)
Aug. 3, 4 p.m.: Meet and greet
(Bring school supplies to drop off)

Wheeler Middle School
2 Wheeler Army Airfield (808-622-6525)
Aug. 4, 9 a.m.: Open house


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