Students and staff remember slain teacher

Asa Yamashita
Asa Yamashita
Amber Scholtz
Amber Scholtz
Wendy Fujitani
Wendy Fujitani
Mae Oshiro
Mae Oshiro

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

WAIANAE (KHNL)- Asa Yamashita's students and fellow staff members mourn her loss together for the first time since her murder. Grief counselors were at Waianae High School as the shock of her loss still settles in. Her big heart, big smile and big aspirations for students to achieve are what teachers say they'll miss the most.

Waianae High School halls are empty, but full of heartbreak. Students that help put up a makeshift memorial like Amber Scholtz are overwhelmed with the sadness of slain teacher Asa Yamashita's murder.

"A lot of people were crying and I felt bad because I knew her really well," said Student Amber Scholtz.

Teachers are also having a tough time.

"They were sad, shocked about what happened to somebody so close to all of us," said English Teacher Wendy Fujitani.

"I haven't even been in the office today, I don't want to go in there," said English Teacher Mae Oshiro.

Asa's absence is painful. Pictures and flowers fill her old office with grief.

"Even though she was a tiny person, she left a big hole here," said Oshiro.

An english teacher for more than a decade, Yamashita most recently focused her strength on making student interest in reading soar.

"These are a lot of the books Asa helped get for my students," said Fujitani.

She made books fun, bringing more of them into the school and building a sustained silent reading program.

"She used to be really happy and come into our classes and tell us that we should read this book," said Scholtz.

Yamashita soon earned the nickname "book lady." While she is no longer here, the school says her passion will live on.

"The greatest thing you can do to honor her is to read a book, that's what she'd want us to do," said Fujitani.

The chain that linked an entire school together, students and teachers call Asa Yamashita excellence in action.

"I'm really going to miss you," said Scholtz.

A candlelight vigil is scheduled at Waianae High school's Cafeteria Tuesday, March 3rd at 7-pm. Students both past and present, including the public are invited to bring a book to donate and honor the life of Asa Yamashita.