By Rear Adm. Rick Williams
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific
Hawaii’s schools provide excellent opportunities here for our military families – from preschool to elementary to high school and on to university.
Eleven of the 12 valedictorians at Radford High School and two valedictorians at Moanalua are from military ohana (family).
As graduation arrives we’re seeing five service academy appointments and eight JROTC scholarships this year.
Recently I hosted senior military leaders, educators, university faculty and students from our families for an informal meet and greet.
One reason for our get-together was to discuss how we can continue to “communicate the value,” to show the outstanding quality and opportunity in our schools. Another reason was to rededicate ourselves to working together and seeing how we can learn from each other in shared Aloha.
Several decades ago, there were legitimate concerns related to some schools, just as there were for the quality of military housing, once considered substandard, prior to public-private venture modernization.
But just like housing, fitness centers, child development centers, and other quality-of-life initiatives, schools near our bases have become better and stronger. They are now learning centers with outstanding academics and extracurricular programs.
Nearby Radford High School is named for Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Commander in Chief, Pacific, and CinC, Pacific Fleet and first naval officer named as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Every time I visit Radford High School, even late in the afternoon, I see all kinds of clubs, teams, events and student activities and plenty of support from the Military Youth Advisory Council.
And, just as we are part of Hawaii’s rich history, we are part of positive future trends here in innovation and education.
Our Sailors join with Airmen, Marines, Soldiers and Coast Guardsmen in school outreach throughout Hawaii: music/band school visits, Shipyard robotics, interactions with Navy Divers, rocket science at Pacific Missile Range Facility, judges at science fairs, coaches with local teams, and opportunities during RIMPAC.
In the arena of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, our military is helping schools in Hawaii. And in turn, through well-rounded, diverse and innovative studies, our schools are helping military families.
The Navy is a family business. Our Sailors and families already have an amazing sense of duty, having served through deployments, separations and dozens of moves. They have grown up adaptable and innovative, with a unique sense of discipline, character and experience into the next generation. We owe it to them to represent their sacrifices, while at the same time making a sound future investment.
That’s the key point: investment. Our families are our future.
We must take care of our future Navy by developing prospective officers, technically expert enlisted staff and a local work force by taking advantage of opportunities right here in our community. At the same time, we embrace the Aloha of Hawaii and appreciate the opportunity to live, work and learn here in these beautiful islands.
In Hawaii we will continue the involvement and the improvement, which will only get stronger during the ongoing rebalance to Indo-Asia-Pacific.
We will continue to work together as educators, community leaders, and Navy leaders to ensure we give all families the best education and training opportunities possible. In coordination with U.S. Pacific Command and Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, we’re planning now for a proclamation-signing event with the Department of Education as a show of commitment toward our mutual goals.
If you’re in the military and considering orders to Hawaii, you should know why Hawaii is such a great place in which to live, work and learn. It’s because we are working together, learning together and sharing the Aloha.