Tense Situation Provides Valuable Lesson

Dawn Kodama-Nii with her first-graders
Dawn Kodama-Nii with her first-graders
Richard Kiyonaga
Richard Kiyonaga
This car was allegedly stolen by the suspects in Friday's manhunt
This car was allegedly stolen by the suspects in Friday's manhunt

Sep 1, 2006 06:36 PM

By Minna Sugimoto

(KHNL) -- It was a manhunt that triggered heightened security at two East Oahu schools.

Two teen suspects are still on the run.

But the tense situation on the streets has become a valuable lesson in the classrooms.

"There were policemen all over," a Wilson Elementary third grader said in class.

"Yes, we had policemen all over the campus watching out for us," Dawn Kodama-Nii, teacher, responded. "So we were very safe."

Not math, not science, but a lesson in life.

A day after Honolulu police swarmed the neighborhood, the lesson plans at Wilson Elementary have changed.

"If you have any other questions or concerns, or if you're still a little frightened, that's okay," Kodama-Nii told her students. "We're going to write that down in our journals. So we're going to talk about how we feel."

When the drama began to unfold Thursday, Wilson initiated an emergency procedure called 'Shelter in Place.'

It was unlike the lockdown at nearby Star of the Sea, which kept students sealed off for safety reasons as officers conducted an air and ground search for two suspects.

"Not quite a lockdown in that, Shelter in Place, we put the kids in an area where we can account for them," Richard Kiyonaga, Wilson Elementary principal, said. "And as parents come for them, we release them."

From robberies in Mililani to car break-ins in East Oahu, investigators believe it was a busy day for at least three teenaged boys.

Officers made one arrest. But two suspects got away, and ran in the direction of the two schools.

"It was safer to be up here in our classroom upstairs than to be outside," Kodama-Nii explained to her students.

School officials say their students handled the tense situation well.

"They did great," Kiyonaga said. "And actually, our parents and our students are our best kept secret here."

Officers arrested the 16-year-old boy for investigation of robbery and theft. Police say they do have leads on the two other suspects.