Wednesday | August 23, 2017
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Oda, Garson, Simeon tapped for Hilo awards

Russell Oda, Al Garson and Sheldon Simeon will be honored with Hilo High Foundation Distinguished Service Awards at the organization’s fourth annual recognition dinner on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at the Sangha Hall in downtown Hilo.

The honorees were announced by foundation President Barry Taniguchi and Vice President Allan Ikawa.

Tickets are $50 for the dinner catered by Don’s Grill, with a special dish by Simeon, a 2000 HHS graduate and a state and nationally acclaimed chef now living on Maui, where he was named “Chef of the Year.”

Ticket buyers are encouraged to organize a mini-reunion with their class. Special tables for group sponsors are available at $1,500, $1,000, $750 and $500 donor levels.

“This would be a great time for alums to put together a table with classmates while helping Hilo High and the foundation,” said foundation Secretary Newton Chu. The Hilo High Foundation is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt foundation dedicated to enhancing the educational opportunities for students at Hilo High. For sponsors and purchasing tables, contact Art Taniguchi at 854-2020, Ivan Nakano at 930-6477 or Roberta Chu at 854-2025. For individual or small-group ticket information, contact Newton Chu at 961-0406, or foundation Treasurer Janet Hara a 935-5404 or

“The recipients have requested that attendees consider making an additional donation to the foundation in lieu of leis. Once a Viking, always a Viking,” said Newton Chu.

Russell Oda, a 1948 graduate of Hilo High School, became a prominent architect in Hawaii. Oda has designed many of the most famous buildings in Hilo, including the Wailoa Center and the Hilo Judiciary Building. Oda was surprised when he was informed of his selection, stating, “There are so many others that are more qualified than I.”

However, he was pleased that the banquet was designed to raise funds for his alma mater.

“Hilo High will always hold a special place in my heart. I have been a Viking supporter for my entire life and I am glad the Foundation is there for the kids,” Oda said.

Al Garson was Principal at Hilo High from 1979 until 1986. Some notable achievements at Hilo High during his term were a State Baseball Championship, a state diving champion, the HHS band marched in the Rose Bowl Parade, and of course, many BIIF championships.

The academic emphasis focused on preparing students for college, as well as the world of work. In 1990, under the auspices of the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce, and along with Barry Taniguchi of KTA and the late Mits Sumada of Hawaii Community College, Garson was one of the founders of the Business-Education Partnership (BEP), a nonprofit organization whose goal was to prepare Big Island youth for entry into the world of work. Hilo High was one of the first to implement the BEP classes.

Sheldon Simeon quickly rose to fame as a finalist in Bravo Channel’s “Top Chef-Seattle.” Currently he is the executive chef at Star Noodle in Lahaina. He is a two-time James Beard semifinalist — for “Rising Star” and “Best New Restaurant” in 2011. He always speaks fondly of Hilo as his hometown.

“It is only fitting that Hilo High Foundation honor these cherished alumni and educator. Please consider attending the dinner,” said Chu.


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