The iChoose program completed a tour of 10 Hawaii high schools on February 18. The schools visited were:
Jan. 20 — Kapolei High School
Jan. 28 — Island Pacific Academy
Feb. 2 — Waipahu High School
Feb. 3 — Roosevelt High School
Feb. 4 — Farrington High School
Feb. 8 — Molokai High and Middle School
Feb. 10 — Mililani High School
Feb. 16 — La Pietra School for Girls
Feb. 17 — Nanakuli High School
Feb. 18 — Pearl City High School
Heart-warming stories abounded at each school iChoose visited. After each presentation, students approached cast members in order to share their personal struggles, gathering hope and courage from the honest dialogue. The iChoose personnel considered these encounters to be the greatest moments of the tour, to know that they had empowered the students.
The following are just a few of the numerous comments by those who had attended or another of the iChoose performances:
In the February 15 issue of The Molokai Dispatch, Megan Stephenson writes:
“I thought the live singing was pretty cool,” said sophomore Chanisse Manley. “I learned violence comes in all different forms and many different facets.” The performance was set in a classroom setting, so the students would identify with where and in what form violence can take place.
Ric Ornellas, Molokai High School Social Studies and Science teacher, reports:
As educators working with emerging young adults, we are aware that our victories are small. However, since the conclusion six weeks ago of both the Victory over Violence exhibit and the iChoose performance, our school has had only two fights, and our students are academically focused. This is deeply moving to us and a great relief to our students, their families, and the community.
Gay Chinen, Upper School Dean of La Pietra Hawaii School for Girls, comments:
The presentation did empower students to come forth and speak out about a bullying problem. Right after the presentation, a student come to see me regarding a problem with another student. We met and resolved the miscommunication that the girls had with each other.
Jean H. Nishi, Student Activities Coordinator for Nanakuli High School, reports:
iChoose was a powerful performance that many of our students could relate to. I asked some afterwards for their reactions, and they all said that the production reminded them that we need to be respectful of others and not to resort to violence to solve problems. Our students are very accepting and tolerant of different kinds of people; I don’t see kids teasing or harassing each other about being gay or obese, etc.
Beverly Hashimoto, Roosevelt faculty emeritus, comments:
I wholeheartedly feel that if iChoose can make a difference in even one person’s life, it has truly accomplished its mission! Yet I’m sure that in some way it impacted every student in the audience. If more students have the opportunity to experience iChoose, our schools, our communities and our country will be in a more peaceful and happier place!
One of the more riveting moments of iChoose comes about midway through the mini-musical. In a classroom scene, the actors playing students shift an academic discussion into a topic of relevance to them—how they and many of their peers are involved in bullying, as either bullies or victims, or sometimes as both.
To rouse their spirits, “the teacher” reads inspiring words from great poets, including these by Daisaku Ikeda:
You have chosen this time
to stand resolutely on this grand stage.
as the curtain majestically lifts,
as we strive to transform a century verging on
barrenness into a new era of life. (Songs for America, pp. 63–64).