Decreasing Fights Leads to One School's Success - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Decreasing Fights Leads to One School's Success

Jamie Dela Cruz Jamie Dela Cruz
Mike Madormo Mike Madormo
Daisy Pulido Daisy Pulido
Teri Tabiolo Teri Tabiolo

EWA BEACH (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just like the approach to bullying, schools are finding they can stop fights, by convincing kids it just isn't cool. The ripple effect is even helping test scores.

If you've ever typed Waianae or Ewa Beach into YouTube, you've probably seen that fights pop up -- lots of them.

But now, students are stepping up and saying, fights aren't everything. Two former Waianae High School students, Chandra and Uilani, created a slam poem to show their opposition. Their poem says, "We never beat a girl so bad until blood started gushing out just to prove we we're someone. See we know who we are. We're okay with that."

They use the same technology, but put quite a different spin on it.

Since YouTube started, only five years ago, there are literally thousands of posts of fights across the nation. A former Waianae High teacher, Nikki Davenport, says it's about fight clubs; think Brad Pitt meets middle school. She stated, "The fact that students are so quick to resort to fights has a lot to do with the entertainment value of the fights."

When fists fly, it only takes seconds for a crowd to gather, and about the same amount of time to capture it.

Teri Tabiolo, the Vice Principal at Moanalua Middle School explains: "This electronic day and age, they're very quick. It's very quick, it's very clear, and very widespread. It can go like wildfire, on web spaces, myspace, YouTube, things like that."

Now, students are leading the movement to stop the violence. Daisy Pulido, a freshman at Campbell High School told us, "It doesn't get you anywhere. It doesn't solve your problems or anything." Her teacher, Michael Madormo, agrees, "I think a lot of kids are starting to get that. I think, you just need a tipping point where more kids understand that there are other ways to respond beside violence."

Their principal, Jamie Dela Cruz, says that response is drastically affecting Hawaii State Assessment scores at Campbell. He mentioned that fights ran rampant on and off campus just ten years ago, and only a handful of students passed the state test. "In 1999, 2000, I had the benefit of seeing the school in its challenges and that included daily, every single day, double period lunches, fights, students, not going to class."

In 2010, kids have stepped up against the violence. Rather than almost a dozen fights each day, Dela Cruz says he maybe sees one a week, and that's been a big factor in changing test scores."We went from pretty much zero percent in HSA scores, to right now, it's on our board, our current percent in 80% in reading and 50% in math, which is phenomenal. Our percentile gain is amazing," Dela Cruz explained.

He says fewer fights on campus means kids are in classrooms and ultimately learning a lot more.

Other schools around the island are also doing great things, and seeing changes. Waianae High School has slam poetry. Nanakuli has run a peacemaker's club, and various other schools have successful student-driven movements to stop the violence.

Principals from across the state say, as the fights decrease, student achievement goes up, and scores are written proof.

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