homepage logo

New program teaches life skills to Lahainaluna High School boarders

By Staff | Oct 12, 2017

Boarders at Lahainaluna High School started a seven-week leadership development program on Sept. 12.

LAHAINA – The Gentlemen By Choice Island Gents/Island Ladies program landed on Maui at Princess Nahi’ena’ena Elementary School in 2015, with Richard Jack at the helm.

A transplant from Las Vegas, Jack in 2013 co-founded the multi-state Gentlemen by Choice Community Development Corp. nonprofit on the Mainland.

He subsequently moved to Maui and is one of the school counselors at Princess.

“The program focuses on four areas: leadership, financial management, etiquette training and image,” Jack explained.

With the life skills class an unqualified success after the first year at Princess, Lynn Kahoohalahala, the former principal of the West Side elementary school, asked Mr. Jack to include Island Ladies; and, by the end of year two, the mentorship program grew to embrace 25 fourth and 27 fifth grade young men and 31 Island Ladies, plus plenty of community support.

Year three is now on the table, and the 2017-18 school year is well underway.

Kahoohalahala (Class of 1969) has returned to her alma mater as the new principal at Lahainaluna High School.

After 23 years at Princess in various teaching and leadership positions, Jeri Dean (Class of 1988) has joined Kahoohalahala and is now freshmen class vice principal.

Among Dean’s new responsibilities, she is also the head of security and safety and a member of the Wellness and Instructional Leadership Teams.

Although the Island Ladies and Island Gents training continues at the upper elementary school grade level, the program has moved up the hill to the historic high school to serve the 74 campus boarders.

“Mrs. Kahoohalahala asked me to implement a leadership development program for the Boarding Department,” Dean told the Lahaina News.

Dean has worked with Jack and has been affiliated with GBC since its inception on Maui over two years ago.

To Dean, bringing the time-honored boarding school tradition and the Gentlemen By Choice (GBC) life skills training together seemed like a perfect fit.

The goal, Jack advised, is “to return to the program’s traditions as much as possible. We want to provide students an opportunity to once again take pride in being boarders.”

Dean supports Jack and “all the community leaders he has brought with him by attending Tuesday night trainings for the ladies and Thursday night trainings for the young men.”

The seven-week course commenced on Sept. 12.

“Because our boarders live away from home, providing them with social/emotional support and training allows them to not only develop academically at LHS but socially and emotionally as well. The boarder program is structured to cultivate leaders among the students, and the GBC curriculum and mentoring offers additional support in that area as well,” she said

This program,” Dean continued, “provides social/emotional development courses that are not taught in the classroom. The concepts and curriculum of this program allows students to be exposed to leadership skills, mindfulness and emotional development.

“Being in education for over 23 years, I have never seen students impacted so positively from any other program. Students begin the year with a limited awareness of their potential, abilities and influence on others and leave the program as young learners who can see themselves as leaders capable of doing anything they set their minds to. They are exposed to a variety of career paths and professional cultures through many leaders in the community that have volunteered their time and resources to be with the students.”

Annette David is the complex director of human resources for the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas and The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas. She has volunteered her time as a GBC mentor to benefit the youth of West Maui.

“When I first heard of the Island Ladies and Gents program,” David said, “I thought it was an amazing opportunity to touch our children who are at a very impressionable age and inspire them with positive beliefs in themselves.”

After two years contributing to the program, she is a true GBC believer.

“Richard’s program comes from the heart, and he is so selfless with his time and talent with the children. After meeting him, I felt ‘called’ to do everything I could to support his program. I believe our youth are our future, and it’s our responsibility to support their development. When you meet these young men and women, you see their hope and potential, and it inspires you to share your gifts with them and the life lessons you’ve learned.”

Connecting GBC to the rich, time-honored traditions of Lahainaluna and the boarding program to the West Side community is a no-brainer.

The close-knit West Maui community is as proud of its boarding program as it is of its many MIL winning teams.

“Community partnerships have grown immensely,” Dean observed, “with support from the Marriott, Hyatt, Westin Kaanapali, Westin Villas, Sheraton, Nanea and Ritz-Carlton. Restaurants include Duke’s, Leilani’s and Maui Grill. There have been a number of sponsors from community businesses as well.

“It is incredibly amazing to be a part of a community who rallies behind our youth as they strive to learn life skills outside of the classroom.”