Arisa May Blanco, a Waipahu High senior, is deeply committed to getting young citizens involved in community service. This ideal inspired her to serve as student advisor to the Waipahu Intermediate Builders Club. This was the start-up year for this fledgling club that is an international student-led service organization supported by Kiwanis International. She taught the 12 young students how to be effective leaders in the club and how to find viable service projects. They volunteered at West Loch Elderly Hall, Waipahu Elderly Hall, and Hawaii Plantation Village, and also participated in cleanups for the U.S.S. Battleship Missouri and their own school campus.
As part of her work with the Waipahu youngsters, Arisa also created an informational brochure to boost the club’s membership. She proudly shared its success:
Not only did it help the students to gain more members, but they also learned new things about being Builders. For instance, they didn’t know about the Builders’ Pledge until they read the brochure. They actually memorized it in one day!
In working with the intermediate students, Arisa capitalized on her experiences as an officer of the Waipahu High School’s Key Club International. She served as the Vice President of Kiwanis Relations, a crucial liaison role between the Key Club and the Pearl Harbor Kiwanis. As part of her senior project, Arisa also produced a research paper in which she studied the value of community service in schools. She said:
Community service should be required in order to significantly improve student performance in academics by connecting service to curriculum and providing real-world and hands-on learning. As part of my investigation, I found inspiring examples of service learning including one from New Orleans where students transformed a dumpsite into a living wetlands and an educational site for other students.
This summer, Arisa plans to work for Dimension U, a company that teaches math through video gaming. In the fall, she will attend Washington State University in Pullman and major in neuroscience. Her ultimate dream: to return to Hawaii and work as a neurologist.