By Michael Zalopany, Kawananakoa Middle SchoolDecember 9, 2013
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (Dec. 9, 2013) -- More than 200 students from Kawananakoa Middle School learned about leadership, teamwork and trust the same way Soldiers do during a recent trip, here, when two separate groups of eighth-grade students participated in the Leadership Reaction Course, Nov. 14-15.
Kawananakoa students have participated in the Leadership Reaction Course, or LRC, for the past five years.
Science teacher Sam Hankins and social studies teacher Gary Tani came up with the idea for the annual excursion, and Brig. Gen. Bruce Oliveira, commander, Hawaii Army National Guard, helped the two teachers implement the LRC course program.
"We both agreed that the skills and teamwork that are built by Soldiers attempting to complete the various tasks at the LRC are exactly what the students need," said Tani, who also is a captain in Hawaii Army National Guard.
"This could be accomplished in a way that the students would also have fun," Tani added.
During the course, teams of students worked their way through 12 obstacles, each with a different challenge that included passing a barrel over a wall using ropes and pipes.
The competing teams were scored on leadership and teamwork, and high scores were factored into their school grades.
"If my team did not exchange ideas and help each other out, we would never have completed any courses," said student participant Katie Chu. "The course helped us build trust in ourselves and others. I know that I definitely improved on becoming a leader and trusting others."
Volunteers from Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps at McKinley High School and Roosevelt High School, as well as the University of Hawaii ROTC, the U.S. Army and Hawaii Army National Guard, helped teach the students leadership skills, including how to react under stress.
Members of the Hawaii Army National Guard also donated MREs for the students to get a real taste of military life while training.
Following the LRC, Sgt. 1st Class Alfred Domingo, 2nd Battalion, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, escorted students and offered briefings on Stryker operations.
(Editor's note: Zalopany is an eighth-grade teacher at Kawananakoa Middle School.)