Principal Strives for Normalcy


By Jerome LInear

Principal Ron Okumura addresses students at the Welcome Back Assembly. Okamura told The Pinion that managing the school during the pandemic was a “daunting task.”

Jerome Linear, Assistant Editor - Digital and Copy

Ron Okamura has been the principal at McKinley High School since 2008 and is starting his 16th year. He has high hopes for this school year after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic was a challenging point for education and a learning and growing experience for Okamura as a principal. He said in the past two years “we’ve never been so mentally and emotionally exhausted.” Going through this, he knew his role as a principal and maintained his composure through it all with “One voice, one calm voice.”
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is to be flexible, more flexible than I normally am with the fact that things are changing daily, they’re changing even hourly, you know, the different types of guidelines and rules we have to take on,” Okamura said.
Managing the school during the pandemic was a “daunting task” for Okamura and he said that he’s been in the Department of Education for 37 years and has never experienced challenges similar to the difficulty of the pandemic. The pandemic made his duties as a principal more cautious during the time because he had people’s lives in his hands.
“What really got to me was the fact that I had so many lives that I had to deal with, how to keep all you folks safe, the teachers safe, everybody who comes to this campus safe,” Okamura said.
The idea of bringing back school during the pandemic made it exhausting for Okamura during the time. During the 2021-2022 school year, COVID-19 was on the rise with the delta variant which caused more people to get infected with the virus. This was an obstacle that Okamura had to deal with in order to bring back McKinley’s Pride and Tradition and to get school running back to normal.
“It’s really about hoping and planning that you put everything in place, so that nobody gets sick and nobody dies from Covid coming back to school, and trying to bring back some normal, I guess, operations and just what is normal for school,” Okamura said.
As a principal, Okamura still thinks about his duties as a leader. With his growth and status in his community, he still wants to improve schooling by knowing how he can get students to understand education and how he can get students and staff to cooperate more in school. He wants to be a helping hand to the students of McKinley because he understands that academic learning in schooling is way more difficult than before. However, Okamura is focusing more on getting students to organize their priorities so that they could be more independent in the real world.
“If you don’t have that self-regulation, you don’t have that self-check that self-monitoring and that self, I guess, push, you will fall down and sometimes don’t recover,” Okamura said.