Nanakuli troupe defies stigma

A school arts center’s role in a major festival brings pride to a beleaguered campus

By Mary Vorsino

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Feb 07, 2011

FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARADVERTISER.COM
Nanakuli High & Intermediate School Performing Arts Center students performed Saturday at the Hawaii State Art Museum during the Scholastic Art Awards 2011. Susan Bowyer, left, Juliann Martin and Chloe Sylva posed in the front row during a song-and-dance number.
The Nanakuli High & Intermediate School Performing Arts Center’s trip to Edinburgh this summer to perform at the Fringe Festival, a prestigious arts showcase, is a source of pride for the community

Chanel Smith scrunches up her face to mimic the reaction she gets when she tells people she goes to Nanakuli High.

Nanakuli High & Intermediate School is at the bottom of just about every academic list: lowest graduation rate, lowest state test scores, highest dropout rate. But the junior is undeterred.

She simply jumps onstage with her troupe from the Nanakuli Performing Arts Center and dances and sings her heart out. That shows people that assumptions about a school do not do justice to its kids.

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