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Being Local, Barry and Bryan

Photo: Rae Huo

It’s a great time to be from Hawaii for sectors as diverse as business, politics and sports. See how the new management team at Hawaiian Telcom is leveraging “local” to buy needed time in our cover story on page 30.

The local factor comes into play in national politics, too. Much of the media coverage to date has focused on both Barack Obama’s and John McCain’s formative years. A recent installment of a series on Obama by Washington Post writer David Maraniss had this headline: “Obama in Hawaii: Trying to find his way at elite Punahou School.”

Now, kids from Hawaii’s public schools can also claim ties to the Democratic presidential nominee. I acquired the picture below from Winifred (Wakai) Otaguro, who was in Ms. Sakai’s kindergarten class at Noelani Elementary School in 1967. Otaguro’s mother, Betty Wakai, had written the names of most of the kids in the class on the back of the picture. Her writing identifies the first little boy in the third row as “Barry Obama.” Obama’s sister Maya Soetoro-Ng confirms that the boy is Obama, however, the Department of Education has been unable to find his records.

Miss Sakai's 1967 kindergarten class at Noelani Elementary School. Betty Wakai's writing identifies this boy as "Barry Obama."

I’m sharing this picture, because too often our public schools get short shrift in so many ways. (Disclosure: my perspective is also one of a proud former Noelani student and parent of Noelani students.) Here’s photographic evidence that Hawaii’s public schools have helped to produce at least one presidential nominee.

Our public schools can also be a training ground for world-class athletes. In fact, the greatest track and field athlete in the world, decathlon gold medal winner and Castle High School graduate Bryan Clay, talked to Hawaii Business about the business of his brand on page 17. I’ve run out of time and space to list other outstanding Hawaii athletes, but thanks to all for giving us increased reason to be proud of Hawaii.

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Mar 3, 2011 05:06 pm
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