CRASH, which stands for College Readiness and Academic Success Hawaii, is an annual program offered at Waipahu High School (WHS) that aims to prepare students for college and life after high school.
CRASH Night has four sessions per school year. They occur on Thursdays after school, starting at 5:30 PM for sign-ins and refreshments, with programming beginning at 6:00 PM and ending 7:45 PM. Each night is different and focuses on a new topic. The lessons CRASH Night teaches range from how to prepare for college, how to prepare for a job and job interviews, and even tips on financial stability.
One of the perks of going to CRASH Nights, other than gathering valuable information, is the CRASH scholarship. This scholarship is available to students who have attended at least three CRASH sessions in a school year. The scholarship award consists of $2,000, which is awarded between the winners: one freshman, one sophomore, one junior, and three senior WHS students.
While the prospect of winning this scholarship encourages students to attend CRASH Nights, Mrs. Cesceli Nakamura, a School-Improvement Resource Teacher at WHS involved in the creation of CRASH, says that “The CRASH scholarship is an added incentive to attend all sessions, but it is not the only reason why students attend.”
Administrators have seen an improvement in students’ interest in the program over the years. This January, “The fourth CRASH session garnered strong audiences of at least 200 people, which is a huge increase compared to 67 from three years ago,” said Ms. Jessica Mendoza, the Parent Community Networking Center (PCNC) Facilitator at WHS who organizes CRASH Nights.
Students and families genuinely enjoy the information they learn at these sessions. CRASH Nights answer questions that students did not realize they had. Taylor Fukunaga, a sophomore who has attended three sessions for each school year at WHS, feels that CRASH has benefited and influenced her future plans for college. “I was so determined to set foot in the mainland for college. After attending CRASH I realized that just as great opportunities are offered here,” Fukunaga explained.
CRASH has also taught her helpful new habits. “CRASH has impacted my decision making […] I plan to maintain my financial stability after high school. I decided to start a tracking system towards my college tuition instead of excessively spending on unnecessary items to help my parents as much as possible.”
WHS staff have been a continuous aid in volunteering at CRASH Nights. The entire school works together to make the program come to life—custodians set up and clean up the cafeteria and workshop areas, various staff members serve refreshments, the counseling department handles check-ins, and teachers, counselors, and WHS alumni lead workshops. As Mendoza says, “The program is a product of a collaborative work between the school staff, students, and our families.”
On more than one occasion, CRASH Night has featured many different community members invited by Academy leaders, school resource teachers, and administrators to present their own college and career insights and advice.
“We are always looking for presenters that have valuable college or career preparation information to share with families. If you know of someone who may be interested in presenting at a CRASH session, please contact Ms. Jessica Mendoza at [email protected],” Nakamura encourages.