There always seems to be that one individual that makes an impact in your life that you will never forget. Well, there is a person that has done just that for thousands of students in a career that spans over 38 years. Her name is Mike Ishihara and she is the Student Activities Coordinator at Pearl City High School.
On a recent visit to the Pearl City campus, I stopped in to Ishihara’s office and was amazed to see the collection of PCHS graduation pictures that lines her walls. I scanned through them, going class by class. There it was, class of 1977 (my graduating class) with my classmates pictures, many of whom I haven’t seen since graduation day. Ishihara actually knew the current status of many of them. Where they live, how many children, occupations, last time they spoke to one another. She still has a connection after many years. Amazing!
That’s the kind of person Mike Ishihara is and always will be. You are welcome as a student and as PCHS Alumni. Her office has the aura of someone who cares for you each and every student.
There will come a day when she packs away the photos and memorabilia collected through the years and passes the torch to her successor. But as she puts it, “I still have few years to go.” That’s music to a lot of ears because it just wouldn’t be the same without her. Ishihara defines the spirit of PCHS and is a true asset to the Pearl City community.
Q: How many years have you been at PCHS?
A: “Since it opened in the fall of 1971.”
Q: What was your first position?
A: “I was an English Teacher and the Year Book Advisor.”
Q: When did you become the Student Activities Coordinator?
A: “The position just opened up. It was something new in the State and there was only one other public school Students Activities Coordinator. The first year we were here I was already doing a lot of the things so the Principal asked if I would fill the position so I said yah, I would try it.”
Q: How have the students changed from when you started in the 70’s to now?
A: “Well, we didn’t have the drug babies then so it was easier. Those kids were at least controllable. They still have their sense of sanity I guess, but that has really changed, I mean so many things have changed.”
Q: How has it changed?
A: “For one thing I think a lot of them cannot control a lot of stuff, like you know, if they are on meth, they cannot control it.”
Q: Have the teachers changed their approach in teaching today’s students?
A: “Now a teacher has to be more than just a teacher, they have to be almost like a social worker, a surrogate parent, a big brother, a big sister. You have to wear so many hats now because kids are coping with so many things in their lives compared to 1971.”
Q: Can you name any students that have made an impact on you?
A: “Yes, Dewey Gottlieb, he graduated in 1987 and I met him when he was a sophomore and he decided to run for the student government position. He was very confident and it kind of took me by surprise. He was a real neat kid. He was somebody the whole student body respected, even by teachers.”
Q: How important is the Student Activities Department?
A: “I think it is very important because it completes the roundness. You know they always talk about being well rounded and it completes that part. I have something that came out about 20 years ago that they did a study in California and they found out that the kids that were involved in high school and all kinds of activities other than just academics became much better people all around.
They could work with people, they were good people. It wasn’t just the smarts; they need more than just smarts to get ahead today.”
Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: “Just working with the kids and seeing them develop. Some of them develop in certain skills. Some of them just develop in speaking; some of them develop in just people skills. Its just seeing them develop and seeing them come out of their shells and doing things. Just getting involved, to me, that’s the best part.”
Q: Are you working on activities for the upcoming school year?
A: “Right now we are going to have our leadership camp next week for 3 days and 2 nights on the weekend. We go through a whole lot because that particular camp is kind of two fold for me. One is for them to get to know themselves and then to get to know how to work with others. I feel if you don’t know what you’re all about, you can’t work with others.
We will also be working on the opening of our school and the transition of our freshmen and new students and Homecoming and after that it’s just rolling all the way, Christmas and Songfest.”
Q: Where do see yourself in 3-5 years?
A: “I’d like to say I’ll still be here, but I know that I probably will be retired, but right now I don’t see that. I don’t see myself retired because I like being in school and I like being with the kids and teachers and people on the staff. I like that.”
Q: When the day does come to retire, how would you like to be remembered?
A: “That I tried my best.”