Kahuku’s Student Athletes To Pump Up Academic Effort

Kahuku High and Intermediate School has secured a waiver from the state Board of Education to raise student athletes’ grade standards for eligibility, according to the DOE Windward District office. Under the new guidelines, students will now have to maintain a 2.3 grade-point average to play, as opposed to the previous 2.0.

An exemption waiver from the 26-year-old BOE policy was approved unanimously on May 6. The 2.3 “C-average rule” also requires that students have no F’s in their core classes to remain eligible. It takes effect in the second quarter of the 2014-15 school year, and athletes playing a winter sport will be the first to follow the policy.

The GPA increase, according to KHIS, was established to help ensure that student athletes are in compliance with NCAA requirements and will better prepare them for college success. It will also motivate students to set higher goals and work to achieve them.

“Eligibility for NCAA colleges requires a minimum 2.3 GPA,” said principal Pauline Masaniai, “and most choose students who have at least a 2.75. Our student athletes are at a disadvantage with a 2.0. “We owe it to our students to help them prepare for the avenues they choose to pursue after high school, whether a four-year college, junior college or tech school. We’re confident that our students will meet the new standards with the support of our teachers and parents.”

In 1988, the board granted a similar waiver, when Castle-Kahuku Complex Area superintendent Lea Albert, then KHIS principal, sought to raise the GPA to 2.0 for all four quarters with no F’s in core content. Student athletes then proved that they could do better, and thus that standard became the “Kahuku rule.” “Student athletes — all students — will meet higher expectations when they know they are cared for and supported,” Albert said.

Among those wanting to raise the bar were teachers and parents in the Student Community Council as well as those in leadership meetings and the school athletic department.

Plans are underway to help students reach the new standards, such as daily study hall and access to one-on-one tutoring from KHIS and BYU-Hawaii teachers and volunteers. Grade checks will occur every two weeks.

“We’ve got to set the standard as high as we can so that students aren’t stuck in a rut,” said new Kahuku head football coach Lee Leslie, who also has a teaching certificate. “The kids need people to show them how to meet these expectations.” He said he would personally help players in study hall, motivate and organize parent involvement, and make daily grade checks.

Added Kahuku athletic director Gillian Yamagata: “It’s a lot of work on our end, but it improves kids’ eligibility for college. Our numbers proved that kids could do better; they did better because they wanted to play.

” I’ve seen evidence that raising the bar like we did works.”