MHS Music Teacher Curtis Hiyane Retires


Photo Courtesy: ASMHS

Emily Zimmerman, Editor-in-chief

     On October 30, 2020, Mililani High School said goodbye to 30-year veteran teacher Curtis Hiyane. Hiyane, the former wind ensemble director, piano teacher, and jazz band director, was thankful to have been able to spend his entire teaching career at MHS and is now beginning a new chapter of life as a retiree. 

     “Right off the bat, without any questions, it’s the students that I’m going to miss. I found that out when I was working the curriculum for virtual class, and I was like, ‘Oh this is so much work, and I don’t know if it’s worth it.’ But, the first day when I met the students and we were meeting virtually, it was like, ‘Oh, this is’, and it was really all worth it,” said Hiyane. 

     Being an alumnus of MHS, Hiyane has watched the school transform. When he started as a teacher, the music program only consisted of two teachers: himself and Bryan Hirata. Since then, the department has grown to 5 teachers with various classes and programs catering to all students.

     “Well, I think the things that come back to me are the international trips that we were able to take the students on. The international tours like China, and Australia, Japan and watching the culture exchange between the students. I think that’s, that brings back good memories,” Hiyane said.

     After a surge of COVID-19 cases in August, the Hawai’i Department of Education (HIDOE) announced that school would be completely virtual. This format has been extended through the third quarter. As a result, things look very different this school year. 

     “It’s easily said, but for the teacher in the classroom, it’s a whole different ball game where you’ve got to shift everything. And for me, an old timer, not too tech savvy, so it was a really big challenge to get up to speed in terms of how to run the program, how I’m going to present the class, and how the curriculum was going to be done,” Hiyane said.

     Hiyane also spent his time as the commander of the 111th Army Band and served in the National Guard for almost 35 years. Hiyane made the short list and is now one of two people being considered for a position that would be in charge of all 50 National Guard bands. The possibility of earning this position caused Hiyane to consider retiring as a teacher, and with fellow music teacher Kristi Higuchi Del Los Santos taking over the wind ensemble for him, he decided it was time.

     ¨We’re (The 111th Army Band) still under some strict guidance in terms of what guidelines we need to follow when we go to drill and those guidelines prohibit us from rehearsing or getting together in a mass group, mass formation,” said Hiyane, ¨So, with those guidelines, we’re not rehearsing, like I said, big groups, but we’re slowly trying to get into the groove.¨

     The students, his colleagues, and the overall atmosphere of Mililani are what Hiyane said he will miss the most. Spending a large portion of his life at MHS, he learned that he loves the community of Mililani, and his views of teaching evolved from simply relaying information to students to creating a relationship with them to teach the love of not only music, but learning as well.

     ¨It’s all worth it and I hope that I made a positive influence on their lives and that they realize that music really enhances their lives. And I hope that they continue to be not just a consumer of music but be involved in performing of music,¨ Hiyane said.

     Hiyane is looking forward to spending time at home, running and riding his motorcycle in his spare time.