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Adam & Cathy Paikai

1966-86:      The Brothers gave me an opportunity to grow as a person and student by accepting me into the Order and sending me to their Houses of Formation at Lakewood, New Jersey, West Park, New York and Lockport, Illinois.  1970, I completed my BA in Social Studies Education from Lewis University, Lockport, Illinois.

1970, my first teaching job as a Monk was at Brother Rice High School Chicago, Illinois.  I coached football there and formed friendships with staff that I still maintain today.  1972, I left the Order and went to work at a state facility teaching severely emotionally disturbed adolescents.  In ’74, I was contacted by a production company to fly back home and surprise my mom at a birthday Luau that was being filmed as a Primo Beer commercial. You might remember the commercial airing during the 70s.

Fall of ’74, I enrolled in University of Illinois Graduate School of Social Work.  Ironically, I had applied at UH but had to establish residency before being accepted.  U of I offered a Fellowship, so off I went and as fate prevailed, in grad courses, I met the love of my life, my wife Cathy.  Last August, we celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary.  1976, I earned my Masters of Social Work Degree.  Using my degree I worked as a School Social Worker and coached at Argo High School, Hinsdale Central and South High Schools.  From 1978 through 1986, I expanded my professional career by being a Grant Director for a County Truancy Program and a principal of several alternative high schools.  During this time period, my daughter Sarah was born in 1981 and my son Steve in 1984.  Sarah graduated from U of I in 2003.  She is a Product Manager for InGEAR Corp.  Steve is a senior at U of I.  He will complete his degree and is interested pursuing a career as a musician.  Currently he is in a cover band performing at several bars on campus.  Everyone in the family will receive at least one degree from U of I.  Around this area, a degree from U of I is considered quiet an accomplishment.

1987-2006:            1987, I begin my longest stretch as a building administrator in the same school district.  With eighteen years in the district, I was an assistant principal at Waubonsie Valley H.S. for twelve years and a principal for one year at Hill Middle School and five years at Granger Middle School.  I opened Granger as the first principal and within five years it grew to a student population of 1200.  During ’87-05 time period, I had several significant professional accomplishments.  I presented workshops on School Administration Technology Applications and Service Learning Curriculum at national conferences in Orlando, San Francisco, New Orleans, Denver, New York, Anaheim, etc.  Under my leadership, Granger Middle School became known statewide as a model school for Service Learning programs and was awarded national grants.    In 1996, I earned my doctorate in Education Administration from Northern Illinois University.  My last honor in the district was being selected to the Waubonsie Valley Athletic Hall of Fame. 

June, 2005, I retired from public education.  The following fall I continued my professional career as an assistant principal at a catholic high school, Gurein College Prep H.S.  When my wife retires as a public education administrator in a couple years, I will also retire for good.


During the past twenty years I have been an avid golfer and most recently I enjoy traveling to various establishments hanging out with my daughter and wife in the audience listening and singing along with my son’s band.  Of course I am biased, but I believe my daughter’s “gift of gab” that she uses in business comes from my mom and my son’s musical skills from my dad.


How fortuitous that my mom read an article in the Star Bulletin about a new Catholic all boys high school having an entrance exam for incoming freshmen to establish the first class at Damien Memorial.  Out of respect for her wishes, I enrolled into an institution that was operated by religious brothers with uniform restrictions of three types of haircuts, dress shirts, ties, dress shoes and pants with belt loops.  Having come from Alimanu Intermediate School where casual wear was acceptable and lay teachers instructed, I was in for a rude awaking regarding work ethic demands, higher behavior standards, and strong academic competition amongst students.

So who do I meet during the first couple weeks of school but my bus riding buddies from Aliamanu: Tony Santos, Mike Taylor, etc.  At school, I also gravitated toward the more outgoing crowd like “Legs”, Sam, Ricky, “Kiko”, Louie, Juv, Darryl, Johnny Joe, “Barf”, Jose, Floyd, Tony, “Rayloc”, and company.  Most of these gentlemen were also on the Saturday crew that Brother Regan relied on for four years to work on projects around school.  Hot dogs and slushes were payment fare throughout the years until the end of our final year when Brother gave us a banquet at Star Chop Suey.  My belief that students can contribute to their community by participating in Service Learning was developed from this experience.

What other values were instilled into me during those formative years?  How about gaining confidence as a person because your friends supported and believed in you?  Remember when Jose needed help to repair his ’59 Impala, we were there for him. How about demonstrating organizational skills?  Remember how we pooled our funds during lunch time for nocturnal weekend activities.  How about the comfort and loyalty we received from each others parents who feed us, sheltered us, defended us, and treated us like their own sons?  Almost all of our parents would wake up in the morning count heads and cooked breakfast for us.  M/M Tolbert would let us chill at their house between double sessions.  Juvie’s parents, during my senior year, let us use their basement like an apartment where we could come and go anytime we wanted.

How close did we continue to be over the years?  Whenever I came home, I could count on the gang to provide “Hawaiian Hospitality” for myself and my family.  Billy Rees taught my kids to surf and set up Catamaran rides for the family.  Juvie’s family hosted my family at the Outrigger Club.  Kiko had a pot luck party for my family with all the boys there.  When Kiko, “Barf,” and Floyd visited the “Windy City” I made sure we hung out and definitely had them feast on Chicago Style hot dogs and pizza. 

I’m looking forward to our Reunion.  We are the First Graduating Class from Damien.  I believe in some way, we were all successful with our career and life.  I believe we can hold our heads up high as models for students who followed us and will continue to follow us. I think it is an awesome idea creating the “Memorial Walkway” because it validates what we have done during our life time.  It also allows us to memorialize those who went before us, Louie, Jose, etc. 


Mahalo, to the Reunion Committee for all their hard work.  Thanks for organizing the events, contacting the alumni, and encouraging people to make the trip.  Aloha Nui Loa to Floyd, Joe, Larry, Sam, Jerry, and Al.  I am looking forward to seeing all who can make it to the reunion