Defining the Years of Mililani High School in Volumes

Shelby Seu

Yearbooks are one of the best ways to reflect upon one’s years as a student. They provide opportunities to spark memories and feelings as the pages are filled with the pictures of old classmates, school events and thoughtful notes friends had left for the owner. However, for me, it was an opportunity to get back at my father for all the times he’s made fun of me. Mililani High School is the alma mater of my father and all his siblings, and eventually will be my own in 2024. Now, though the designs and layouts of this intimate piece of history have been altered over the years, one thing remains constant – the volume numbers on the spinal cord. As I compared the number on my father’s yearbook to mine, I realized that even though we both grew up in Mililani and attended Mililani High School, we didn’t experience the same MHS.

In terms of the school itself, the home of the mighty Trojans has undergone many improvements since the last time my father was a student walking its newly born halls. The school originally stretched (insert buildings), saving its older generation the longer walks their younger counterparts are forced to embark on to get from class to class. Along with the mass expansion of the school’s boundaries, MHS has gained the title as one of the largest high schools on the island, with the student body seeing a dramatic increase throughout the years 

Another interesting thing for me to compare was the characteristics of our differing  classmates. Scrunchies, baggy jeans, cardigans, oversized clothing and the idea of layering numerous pieces to create one outfit that are now popular were things that used to be laughed at as our parents started the famous “back in my day” lecture. There was especially a lot of laughter when my parents were reflecting on their past trends, including Cavarriccis and the splotchy acid washed jeans that would be folded at the ankles to resemble joggers, not to mention the usage of sweater vests, Doc Martens, and high tops. Hair was similar between our generations as the mullet and heavily layered hair cut returned with a few modern alterations, although I can gladly report that we’ve successfully left behind the trend of large, teased hairstyles that required a can of hairspray to maintain. In terms of popular hangout areas, though my generation can be seen within the first 5 minutes after school flooding the shops at the Mililani Town Center, my father said most of his classmates spent a large amount of their time at Liberty House, which used to be the company that occupied the Macy’s space at Ala Moana.

Worries were also a very differing subject when it comes to our two drastically different generations. My father would say that his generation was more concerned about having fun and partying during their years of high school. Though there were students that shared similar levels of anxiety when it comes to academics, the stress of acquiring straight A’s and a near-perfect score on every test seems to be more prominent in my generation, especially with the accessibility of social media. Global platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat are the most common vessels when it comes to viewing society’s standards and expectations. Therefore, with millions of these posts being accessible all from one’s hand, my generation is exposed to a harmful amount of unhealthy life goals. 

I think that’s what makes me so envious of my father’s generation. To me, it seems like they were able to see life as it was in front of them. They were not concerned about how many strangers liked what they were wearing or what they ate that day. They were focused on themselves and the environment around them, allowing them to live life according to their agenda and not to the agenda of thousands of individuals on the other side of the globe. My father’s generation was able to learn the more valuable, intimate lessons of life as they carried out their high school life with the experiences and people that held a significant amount of relevance to them, rather than a glamorized figure that may not even know of their existence. 

So, we may laugh or roll our eyes when we hear our elders’ signature phrase “when I was your age,” but perhaps it’s best to pause and hear what they have to say. Though most of my time was spent laughing, with or at, my father as he shared his wild high school experiences, it was also a time for me to reflect on my own. Thanks to his stories and lectures, I learned the value of balance. I learned to cherish the small moments with my friends and classmates as its accumulation will allow me to keep moving forward through tougher situations. Yet above all else, I learned the importance of being myself. My father was someone who never strayed away from who he truly was, no matter the circumstances, which is why I look up to him so much. Simultaneously, his stories also made me realize that one thing has never changed about MHS. Its ability to foster the diverse experiences that resonate with so many of its students as they turn into stories that will provide lessons and laughter for generations to come.