WHS welcomes Director of Extension Dr. Arnold Laanui

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Janelle Tapat

Janelle Tapat

Former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent and US Probation Officer Dr. Arnold Laanui is returning to Waipahu High School (WHS) as Director of Extension, hoping to bridge learning experiences on campus with growing industry needs.

Laanui first worked with WHS when he piloted the “Adopt a School” program in 2009. At the time, Waipahu had the highest per capita rate of teen arrests in the nation. Along with high arrest rates, teen pregnancy and dropout rates were also incredibly high. Laanui used data analytics to analyze juvenile crime and school performance measures, then developed interventions to prevent dropouts.

“Four years after we had that intervention, we had the highest percentage of students graduating on time. We had set a new record at that point, which has since been surpassed many times over in merit scholarships. Some of the students who are coming through our pathway now not only didn’t drop out, but many of them rose up to valedictorian ranks,” Laanui said.

WHS students also began doing project-based learning, using those experiences to become passionate about their neighborhood and relevant issues.

“The things that are important to you, where you want to go, the kind of life you want to lead, the things that spark your interests and your passions, those are important. And so, exploring that and being really connected to the students are key elements for us. Since then, the school has adopted a wonderful philosophy: ‘My voice, my choice, my future,’” Laanui explained.

Laanui is currently designing a leadership curriculum that will span from ninth to twelfth grades, focusing on nine character traits linked to leadership.

He observes that WHS’s “international” campus and the students’ resilience provide a strong foundation for leadership.  Laanui has yet to visit a campus where so many languages and dialects can be heard, and says of the student body, “We have so many students coming around from very difficult circumstances in their personal lives, but they continue to get up.  We take it for granted every day, but not all high schools are like this.”

WHS Principal Keith Hayashi commends Laanui for “his continued commitment to supporting students, to provide opportunities, and his ability to network and engage post-secondary and industry partners.”

“I left the world’s greatest law enforcement and intelligence agency to work on the world’s greatest campus with the world’s greatest students,” Laanui said.