Posts by Lyn:

    ‘Seven Days’ to give more international exposure for the CNMI

    November 18th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Image by abcdvdz.com

    MARIANAS Visitors Authority Managing Director Chris Concepcion expressed hope that the CNMI will once again be the center of attention in international film arena as China’s top film production is on Saipan to shoot for a popular TV series ‘Seven Days’.

    “This film will provide millions of dollars worth of exposure for the CNMI which we could not afford,” Concepcion said in an email to Variety.

    He said it was Imperial Pacific International who invited the film crew to shoot on the islands.

    “The MVA has been very supportive of their needs to find locations for filming. We offer a perfect backdrop for their film plot. We have perfect weather, clean air and clean water, friendly locals and a very efficient film permitting process.”

    The MVA also assisted the film production get the filming permits issued by the Department of Public Lands.
    According to Concepcion, it was not the first time that the CNMI was featured in the Chinese-produced TV show. In 2015, he said, Chinese TV show ‘Running Man’ which scenes were shot on Saipan boosted the profile of the CNMI in the China market.

    “The show was watched by tens of millions of viewers nationwide. Reruns are still played in China so the exposure value for the CNMI is beyond what we expected.”

    For the ‘Seven Days’, Concepcion said the exposure the CNMI gets is ‘tremendous.’

    “It complements our work we do to market the CNMI as a paradise destination for families, couples, singles, seniors, sports enthusiasts, nature lovers, business owners and film companies. We are a paradise for everyone.”

    The ‘Seven Days’ production crew will be here for over a month.

    Concepcion added the film crew has hired several local businesses to assist them with their production. They have hired local film companies to help them with logistics and ground transportation. There are also few locals who are featured as extras.

    “I believe the crew is still looking for locals who may wish to play a part in this film.”

    “They’ve rented space and purchased props to use while filming. With this being a crew of over 150 actors and support staff, they are renting hotel rooms, eating in restaurants, purchasing groceries, purchasing souvenirs and gifts, partaking in tourist activities, renting vehicles, and more, which is great for the local economy.”

    Produced by Pilot Media, ‘Seven Days’ casts include famous and multi-awarded Chinese actors Jerry Lee, Wang Qianyuan and OraphanSaithong. They also flew in Hollywood actors to join in the production – Michael Pare, who starred in Eddie and the Cruisers and more recently acted in the popular Fox TV show House; Kristina Denton; Sam Hayden Smith; John Henry Richardson; and Oliver Gruner.

    ‘Seven Days’ is adapted from Decode, a novel written by an American Chinese writer Sun Kangqing.

    Pilot Media is considered one of the most influential film and television companies in China. Its classic works include Moment in Peking, Love Story in Shanghai, The Bronze Teeth, and The Legend of Wu Meiniang.

    Its recent production ‘General and I’, a TV series in 2017, was ranked among Top 10 TV series in terms of annual audience rating.

     

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    Former MHS student gets training opportunity at NASA

    November 17th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    LEAN Dizon Teodoro, a 22-year old Filipino-American may have come from a small island of Saipan but her dream is as big as the universe.

    Teodoro, a graduating student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, landed internship stints at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA.

    For three semesters, she was part of the research fellowship for the NASA Hawaii Space Consortium and last summer she landed an internship at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    “Since I moved to Hawaii on my own, I went seeking out for all the opportunities I could to get my hands on NASA. I realized how amazing UH Manoa is, especially the strong and encouraging network of my specific school (School of Ocean, Earth Sciences and Technology or SOEST),” said Teodoro, who is pursuing Bachelor of Science in Geology and Geophysics.

    One of her mentors, Health Kaluna, made it possible for her to be at research and internship at NASA.

    “Without her, I would not have landed a research fellowship for the NASA Hawaii. She made me land an internship at a place I have always wanted to work at-NASA JPL. She had a best friend there where they both went to grad school at UH Manoa and her friend currently works at JPL so she hooked me up with that internship,” Teodoro said.

    At NASA JPL, Teodoro said she worked with the Near-Earth Object Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer or NEOWISE team. Her research was mainly focused on detecting near-earth objects that have not been detected through automated detection pipeline.

    “Every day, I looked at about 100 images to identify any potential asteroid candidates. Many image search tool techniques were used to extract any near-earth asteroids on the images.”

    At first, she said it was challenging for her because she does not any clue what to do.

    “I had little to no background knowledge in astronomy. I also had to do a side-project that weighed heavily in coding Python. It was definitely a steep learning curve for me but a rewarding one. My mentor helped me tremendously and was generous. I didn’t have a strong foundation in math or science but he helped me every step of the way.”

    Although she has been exposed to astronomy, Teodoro said she is still not sure what she wants to be.

    “What I want to do is to help contribute to future human space exploration. My experiences have been a mix of health and geosciences and so I want to be able to combine those two fields to see how humans can adapt to extreme environment or perhaps how we can colonize Mars in the future. I mean working for NASA full time would be great but it’s not really an ‘end goal’ of mine,” Teodoro said.

    Before the NASA stint, Teodoro has been involved in various research projects. She was involved in research in Chiang Mai, Thailand on how methamphetamine affects the brain. The Minority Health International Research training program facilitated the research, which goal was to bridge gaps between cultural differences in a research setting.

    During her two-year stay at Northern Marianas College, she had the opportunity to go to University of California in San Diego to do NASA-related research – looking at the effects of microgravity on the human body.

    “Of all the these research internships, it all started with the NIDDK STEP UP Program (National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases-Short-Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons), where I first exposed to research right after high school doing box jellyfish research to public health research. I just did a huge variety of summer research projects that I think made me a well-rounded individual,” she said.

    Teodoro graduated in Marianas High School in 2014. She said moving to Hawaii was the most financially challenging phases of her life but she does not regret it even though she has gone through hardships.

    “There is more to life than just a walk on the beach. There are opportunities out there waiting for you – opportunities to grow, to learn new things that will completely change your life for the better. Sure, you come from a small island, but don’t let that define you and your goals in life.”

     

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    Breast cancer, leading cancer incidence in the CNMI – Commonwealth Cancer Association

    November 3rd, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Image by veritalife.com

    BREAST cancer is the leading cancer incidence in the CNMI, according to Commonwealth Cancer Association Board President Bo Palacios.

    Nationally, Palacios said, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer of death in women and the chance of invasive breast cancer in a woman’s life is about one in eight. He added that according to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 266,120 new cases of female breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2018 and 40,920 females will die from the disease.

    Meanwhile, this prompted CCA member Malua Peters appealed to women to take care of themselves.

    “We will beat this numbers of breast cancers if we take charge of our health. Love yourself and go to the hospital and have a checkup. Do not wait until you feel the pain.”

    Peters said the breast cancer month proclamation last September by CNMI Governor Ralph DLG Torres aims increase awareness about breast cancer and the CCA’s goal is to decrease the number of cases.

    “CCA will be aggressive in finding ways to go out and make sure that we do not see breast cancer increasing in the CNMI. Breast cancer comprises 29 percent of the cancer incidence in the CNMI. It is a public health concern. The CCA is involved in the outreach and education ofdifferent types of cancers, particularly breast cancer throughout the community and throughout the year. We want to thank the community for helping us achieve that goal,” Palacios said.

    Recently, the CCA donated a total of US$10,394 to the CHCC mammography section to provide digital screening and diagnostic mammograms for all patients. The mammogram, an x-ray picture of the breast, is recognized as the most effective method of detecting breast changes that may be cancer long before physical symptoms can be seen or felt on women 40 years of age and older, stated in the proclamation.

    Torres said his administration and the CHCC are finalizing the upgrading of all CHCC hospital equipment, including the mammogram.

     

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    Marijuana now legal in CNMI but will be kept out of public schools to ensure fed funding

    October 28th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Image by ipetitions.com

    ALTHOUGH now legal in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, the CNMI-Public School System will still maintain its old policy of prohibiting marijuana in schools.

    Thus stressed Interim Commissioner Glenn Muña saying they need to maintain a drug-free campus to ensure federal funding.

    “That is something we cannot afford to lose [federal funds],” Muña said, adding the PSS relies heavily on federal money.

    “As you know not only do we rely on local money but we are heavily relying on federal money because it allows us to hire some staff. It also allows us to purchase instruction materials and make things happen for our school district,” Muña added.

    In a recent report by PSS federal program officer Tim Thornburgh, the PSS received a total grant of more than US$47 million for the FY 2018.

    Among the programs sustained by the federal funding are the free meals programs, Special Education, Head Start and Early Head Start, Leadership program, professional development trainings, and other development programs for the schools.

    “Right now, PSS regulations have not change. We still uphold those regulations and our employees are not allowed to use it,” Muña said, adding they will still do random drug testing on their employees.

    The PSS, according to the commissioner, is planning on reaching out to its employees to educate them on why it is illegal for them to consume marijuana.

    “It is legal in the CNMI but it is not legal for the employees to consume because your workplace prohibits that.”

    If a student was caught bringing cannabis to the campus, Muña said they will apply what is provided in the Student Discipline regulations.

    “It is a drug-free campus. First and foremost, we would refer them to the law enforcement because it is a controlled substance that they could not bring in to schools.”

    (Read More: http://beyonddeadlines.com/2018/10/21/we-want-a-drug-free-campus-cnmi-pss/?fbclid=IwAR00Zz8YEf6mtCSVagCDSNKQjd5Z7hcVFdVUxTl5BgQXJjim6Mo6WiPO0Fg)

     

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    CDC: CNMI improves in combating TB cases

    October 24th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Image by inlifehealthcare.com

    SAIPAN has remarkable improvements in combating tuberculosis cases, according to Centers for Disease and Control Prevention or CDC Medical Officer for the Pacific Region Dr. Richard Brostrom.
    Back in 1990s, Brostrom noted that Saipan had been seeing about 180 tuberculosis cases per year with the contract workers.

    “It slowly improved every year.”

    He said the partnership between private clinicians, businesses and public health department was instrumental to the success as Saipan is currently seeing 30 to 40 cases of TB every year.

    “TB demands private practitioner, hospital, clinician and public health program to work closely together. That has been a great success here on Saipan, a model for the rest of the Pacific for working between the community and the government to tackle difficult problem,” Brostrom added.

    Before his stint at the CDC, Brostrom had been the TB physician for the CNMI in 2002 to 2010. He is delegated by the CDC to oversee and assess with medical care for TB patients across the Pacific Region, where they are seeing about 500 to 600 cases per year.

    Brostrom was one of the presenters at the three-day Pacific Islands Tuberculosis Controllers Association or PITCA conference being held at the Fiesta Resort & Spa.

    Compared to the U.S. mainland, CHCC-Public Health Medical Director Dr. Phuong Luu said tuberculosis on Saipan is 17 times higher and nine times higher than Honolulu.

    “We are in the same par with Guam and we are much better in terms of controlling the disease in other Pacific islands. What does it mean? It means we have a lot of work to do to educate people,” she said.

    She said tuberculosis in the CNMI is still a permanent issue.

    “Our calculated rate right now is 70 cases per 100,000. We say per 100,000 because that is the standardized way to communicate the cases. We don’t want to say we have only few cases compared to Palau because their population is different,” Luu said.

    According to Luu, this is the first time the CNMI has hosted the PITCA conference.

    “We are discussing through data – how are we doing and how well we are doing in terms of detection and control of tuberculosis.”

    The participants, Luu said, are world-renowned experts.

    “We have people from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Southeast National Tuberculosis Center represented by Michael Lauzardo – director for SNTC.”

    There were also presentations from Rutgers Global Tuberculosis Institute in New Jersey represented by Lee Riechman, who is world-renowned tuberculosis expert, World Health Organization and Australian Respiratory Council and from U.S. Pacific islands partners.

    “The intention of this tuberculosis conference is to meet and discuss the burden of tuberculosis disease throughout our islands. Unfortunately, in the US affiliated Pacific islands, it is really high burden tuberculosis,” she said.

    Brostrom said the challenge that they see in combating the disease in different jurisdiction have to do with funding an organization, crowded living conditions, very high rate of diabetes that is not well controlled.

    “TB remains the number one infectious disease killer in the world; to have island neighbors that have very high rate is not good for the region. That is why we have to come together every year to share our best practices and try to help each other’s islands improved TB care in their own unique way,” Brostrom added.

     

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    Children participate in American Memorial Park’s first underwater explorer summer camp

    October 22nd, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    American Memorial Park. Image by flickr.com

    A TOTAL of 40 children joined the Junior Ranger “Underwater Explorer” summer course of the Teacher Ranger Teacher, a special program by the American Memorial Park.

    The three-day camp last summer was under the supervision of Riya Nathrani, the ranger teacher coordinator. She was the one who developed the summer program.

    On their first day, the children were given orientation about the American Memorial Park – including the monuments, exhibit and theater – and its mission. They also learned about fresh and salt water resources and equipment that is used to research underwater environments.

    They also explored marine environments found around the Park and Saipan and complete an underwater-themed arts and crafts activity.

    “The first day is good. The kids are very enthusiastic,” said Brooke Nevitt, lead ranger at the Park.
    For the second day, Nevitt said the children, whom they also called junior rangers, learned about marine life.
    The kids schedule that day include learning about marine plants and animals that live in the Pacific Ocean including coral, sharks, and turtles, and their importance to our ecosystem. They also watched the film “Disney’s Oceans.”

    “We also have underwater-themed arts and crafts activity. They were also be given underwater explorer workbook,” Nevitt said.

    On the last day of the program, the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality and Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance held a presentation for the children.

    They talked about coral reefs and marine debris. They also learned about underwater artifacts and sunken objects from World War II.

    Nevitt said a completion ceremony was held on the last day of the course.

    “Parents were invited to attend the ceremony to watch their child receive their Junior Ranger badge and certificate.”

     

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    “We want a drug free campus” — CNMI-PSS

    October 21st, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Image by ipetitions.com

    DESPITE the growing the number of states allowing the regulated use of marijuana, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Public School Service still expresses its desire to maintain a drug free campus as it opposes the marijuana bill in the local legislature.

    This after the Board of the Education approved the ratification of written comments to House Bill 20-178 Senate draft 4 to regulate cannabis in the CNMI.

    In a report before the BoE members, legal counsel Tiberius Mocanu said the PSS maintained that employees and students cannot use the product. He said the PSS and the BOE have the control over the health and welfare of the kids in the schools.

    “We have the ability to forbid this. The only way that will be forced on us is if someone went to court, saying he needs to bring that in school – if they sue us for that.”

    In an interview, BoE Chairwoman MaryLou Ada said they opposed to marijuana bill because they wanted the campuses to be drug free and they wanted to have the flexibility to randomly test their employees.

    “For example, we have some bus drivers that are taking care of our students – driving them back and forth – 10,000 of them. We want to make sure that they are safe and sound. We want to be able to deal with those things,” she said.
    She added if the marijuana use is for medicinal purposes, they would require the employees to submit doctor’s prescriptions.

    “We are and forever be a drug-free campus. We are using federal funds and we want to comply with the federal regulation that all drugs, alcohol and any kind of substance shall not be brought to campus or be used during the regular operation of the school or at anytime. So we have to remain drug free,” she added.

    Early this month, the members of the House of Representatives passed the H.B. 20-178, which is now in the local Senate.

     

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    Over 60 students participate in the CNMI-PSS job fair

    October 14th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Over 60 government agencies, non-government organizations and private companies participated in the PSS job fair. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    OVER 30 government agencies, private companies and more than 60 students participated in the job fair facilitated by the Public School System’s Cooperative Education program early last month in Saipan World Resort.

    According to Brandon S. Nicholas, PSS Cooperative Education Program coordinator, the participating students came from three different high schools, including Marianas High School, Kagman High School and Saipan Southern High School.

    “The students were presented with many opportunities today,” he said, adding the program’s purpose is to connect the students with different opportunities in terms of work either in public of private sector.

    The program has been holding job fair for junior and senior high schools twice a year or every start of the semester.

    In an e-mail, Nicholas explained that the Co-op Education is a work-based learning program that integrates classroom instruction with planned and supervised on-the-job training. He said the participating companies/agencies provide structured work experience adding that many students had benefited from this program by successfully transitioning them from coop students to full time or part time employees.

    “Every place that you visit with our community partners that have coop students are now working as full time or part time employees. This is the whole purpose of our program – to prepare them for those kinds of opportunities,” Nicholas said.

    One of the participants, MHS student Mary Jane Domingo, said she had applied for seven companies. She also said it was her first time to join the job fair for students.

    “The job fair is a good avenue to gain experience for applying jobs.”

    Before allowing them to participate in the job fair, Domingo said they have to go through classroom lectures where they learned how to apply for jobs, how to do interviews, how to dress appropriately and learn how to interact with other people and potential employees.

    Jezza Guerrero, Human Resource specialist for Commonwealth Ports Authority, said she was impressed with the students. She described them all as professionals.

    “They came prepared, which we appreciate. Through them we get to find out what their interests are and why they took an interest to sit down with the agency,” she said.

    According to Guerrero, there were 22 students who went to their table and get interviewed.

    “Most of them like to learn more about the airport and seaport management in the CNMI.”

    She expressed appreciation with the Coop Education program as it gives the students the opportunity to have hands-on experience in both the public and private sector in the CNMI.

    “This prepares them for their career after college or after high school, if they decide to work. If they perform well enough some of the agencies will keep them. I think it is a great opportunity for growth and learning,” she said.

    Nicholas said the next job fair for students will be scheduled on January next year.

    “We will do our best to get even more students and more companies.”

     

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    Green Gala for the Environment held in Saipan

    October 7th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    MINA’s present and past board members with 2018 Miss Marianas Celine Cabrera. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    TO raise funds for the environment and to prove that the community has moved beyond “it is not my problem” to “my world, my problem,” the 2018 Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance Green last month staged a gala.

    About 200 people attended the annual gala held on September 14 at Hibiscus Hall in Fiesta Resort & Spa, said MINA Executive Director Roberta Guerrero.

    Stressing that the Green gala’s aim was to promote environmental awareness and to raise funds for their programs, Guerrero said some of MINA’s programs include Tasi Watch where rangers go and do surveillance – particularly in Garapan watershed to watch out for violation such as illegal dumping that could end in the ocean. Another program is conservation awareness where Green members go to schools and teach the children about the important things of conserving the resources to keep the environment healthy.

    Guerrero noted that a few days before the gala, the 200 tickets were already sold out.

    “It means they support the work that we do.”

    Guerrero added the Green gala was also a celebration of the International Year of the Reef. They have set up the venue with corals and ocean-theme to highlight the need to care for the ocean.

    “We have seen a lot of coral bleaching, do the climate change, rising temperatures of our ocean. We have seen the massive storms from the Atlantic all the way through the Pacific which is caused by climate change,” Guerrero said in an interview.

    MINA Chairperson Fran Castro thanked the sponsors of the Green gala.

    “They are the voices who want to make the difference for our resources. This event is for our islands, our culture, and for the resources.”

    MINA has been hosting Green gala for six years. Castro noted that tickets were always sold out.

    “We are happy a lot of people support us. We are the only group in the CNMI that does a lot of work to protect the environment. People really embrace it. In the same event, Kathy Yuknavage received the
    Environmental Champion award.

    When it comes to environment, Monique Sablan, mistress of the ceremony, said Yuknavage as someone “who raised her voice when no one would and move ahead when we lose momentum.”

    Mount Carmel School’s Eco Club is this year’s recipient of Green Hero award.

    Master of ceremony Romolo Orsini said the MCS Eco club created the organization in 2017 without knowing if they fail or not or not knowing how to find funding for their environmental project.

    “Nonetheless, these people went ahead with the creation of their organization by setting up events and gather over 70 individuals to join their club. The club aims to learn more about the environment and also gain a passion for the conservation of the islands.”

    “We are honored to receive this award,” MCS Counselor Tobed Smith said. “It is our role as educators to guide our students. We need to get our students to care for the environment and make an effort to keep our islands clean and preserve it for the generations to come.”

    N15 Architects received the Green Business of the Year. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    N15 Architects received the Green Business of the Year for setting a good example to be a good steward by promoting the protection of the island’s resources in every project they make.

    Cris Fryling, of N15 Architecht, said “being green and taking care of the planet is something that we have always put into practice. We have tried to incorporate that in the projects we do.”

     

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    Math is the roadblock for many students from getting their diploma

    October 6th, 2018

    By Lori  Lyn Lirio

    Regional Educational Laboratory program Executive Director Phillip Herman, Ph.D., discussed about hurdles of students from obtaining college diploma. He was one of the presenters at the CNMI Education Summit held on Thursday and Friday at World Resort.
    Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    MATH and English were the hurdles for students from to obtain their college diploma, according to Regional Educational Laboratory program Executive Director Phillip Herman.

    Herman has presented the work they have been doing with the Public School System, Mount Carmel School, Northern Marianas College and the Department of Labor at the CNMI Education Summit held at the World Resort last month.

    He said they made a research about what happens to students when they transitioned from the PSS to NMC or to the workforce. They were able to identify the problems why students cannot graduate college.

    “PSS, NMC and other stakeholders are interested in increasing college graduation rate. In order to do that, you have to address math,” Herman said.

    “Both Math and English can be the hurdles, but math is one of the biggest hurdles. It is a roadblock for college graduation for many students,” he added.

    “Students complete a lot of other courses. At college they have decent GPAs but they still drop out because they are not able to pass math even if they are not going to be mathematician or [taking courses for] STEM.

    Maybe they will be English major or criminal justice or elementary education.”

    In order to address this, he said the college and high school math teachers from NMC and PSS should collaborate in designing a new course – developmental math – for PSS that will prepare the seniors for college-level math.

    “We want the college to help us design the course and evaluate the course. If we build this course together, we will learn something about what the students need and meet our goal that is to increase the graduation rate at NMC,” Herman said.

    Through deep collaboration with the REL Pacific, NMC and PSS, the designing of developmental Math and developmental English courses helps the educational institution meet students’ needs and would result in more students coming to NMC ready.

    “This would mean that more students will graduate.”

    Herman explained developmental math is not a college-credit course.

    “Those are intended to help you catch up and move to credit.”

    “This is the math that they need to prepare to pass college algebra. It is meeting students where they are. So If you need help with arithmetic, they will include that. The teams [educational institutions] decide what their content in the course. The point is to help students catch up faster, advanced them as fast as they can and hopefully if they pass the course, they will be given the chance to take college-level math at NMC,” Herman said in an interview.

    REL Pacific, according to Herman is providing support and structure for the design, testing and redesign of the course.

     

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    Distance Education workshop for online educators held in Saipan

    October 2nd, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Thirty on-line educators participate in the workshop facilitated by the PSS. The workshop focused on enhancing teachers and social presence in the online learning environment.

    TO improve teacher and student social presence in the online learning environment, the Commonwealth of northern Mariana islands Public School System held a professional development workshop early this month.

    Thirty CNMI online teachers participated in the program which was led by Instructional Technology Program leaders Dr. Bobby Cruz and Lorraine Catienza. The workshop was held at the Kanoa Resort.

    “Our eTeachers are the backbone of the success of the program,” Dr. Cruz said.

    “It is important to gather and reflect as a team on our practices, especially those that are instructional, and set goals that will help our student more effectively learn online, he said, adding that “the topic of social presence was driven by our students.”

    In the workshop, teachers were provided best practices for improving retention rates among on-line students.

    Participants in the workshop included Interim Commissioner of Education Glenn Muña, Associate Commissioner of Student and Support Services Dr. Yvonne Pangelinan, principals and teachers from the PSS.

    “Distance Education is essential in creating opportunities by leveraging the power of technology to provide more equitable access for students across the CNMI. We’re leaders in the region because we are committed to innovating and improving,” Dr. Pangelinan said.

    The PSS Distance Education Program has been offering online courses to both public and private school students for the past seven years. Courses include core subjects such as math, science, language arts, and social studies. Elective courses include Intro to Digital Photography, Journalism, and Creative Writing courses.

    Dr. Cruz said the program was first established to support teacher shortages among PSS in 2012.

    “It has grown to support the enrichment and advancement of high school students.”

    For her part, Catienza said “the Distance Program is committed to continuous improvement. Each year we work with our eTeachers to assess a range of data that includes student course evaluation. We use the input of the students we serve to refine and improve our offerings to ensure quality teaching and learning.”

     

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    Fil Am accepted in MIT’s prestigious engineering outreach program

    September 30th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Ian Cataluna at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Contributed photo.

    MARIANAS High School Fil Am student Ian Rei Magno Cataluna was selected to participate in an engineering outreach program hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Out of 2,100 students who applied from across the U.S., only 100, including Cataluna, were accepted for MIT Online Science, Technology and Engineering Community or MOSTEC.

    The program, according to Cataluna, started in June this year and will end January next year. He also said the six-month program started in summer where he took two courses – Science writing and Astrophysics.

    “During the summer, for six weeks, we took two courses [online] and then we went to conference at MIT for one week to present our projects from what we researched from our courses,” Cataluna, who was born in Saipan to Filipino parents, said.

    He said the other advantage of being in the program is that the MIT is helping them with the college application process.

    During his stay at the MIT, Cataluna recounted they were able to meet with professionals.

    “We had a college fair. We had people from Princeton, Harvard, Stanford – all of the staff of universities were talking and explaining to us the college process.”

    Cataluna was supposed to go Bethesda, Maryland to present his research for Short-Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons or STEP-UP project in August. He chose not to go to be able to participate in MOSTEC.

    “Alongside the STEP UP program, I did the MOSTEC program. The program was more of college-oriented,” he said.

    “The MOSTEC program is very competitive as there is only five percent acceptance rate in the program,” he added.

    Cataluna said he was fortunate to be selected in the program because it expanded his knowledge in different areas.

    “For a long time I always wanted to be a doctor, but then when I went to astrophysics class, I was also exposed to other areas of science that I was never able to learn before.”

    As he learned astrophysics, Cataluna said he got more interested in astrology and other areas related to space.

    “That’s another college career I am considering in taking. I am sure I wanted to enter into STEM field. The science writing course helps me how to write different journals and articles that we will be able to explain it to someone who doesn’t know what the topic is. Basically, we were able to express something that is so complicated but easier to understand by the people,” Cataluna said.

     

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    Gov. Torres to provide land for preservation of medicinal plants on the islands

    September 30th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Members of Amut Natibu, staff from Indigenous Affairs Office, Carolinian Affairs Office, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs and Marianas Visiting Authority witnessed the first ever proclamation of native medicine week. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    IN response to the appeal of native healers for a piece of land to protect and preserve medicinal plants, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Governor Ralph DLG Torres will designate a piece of real estate on Saipan, Tinian and Rota.

    (Read More: http://beyonddeadlines.com/2018/09/23/traditional-healers-ask-saipan-governor-dlg-torres-for-land-allocation/)

    The governor recently made the promise after signing a proclamation designating Sept. 16 to 22, 2018 as Simånan Åmut Natibu, Sumwóólal Sáfeyal Falúw and Native Medicine Week.

    The proclamation signing was held last September 17 at the Governor’s Conference room.

    During the celebration of native medicine week, the Indigenous Affairs Office and Inetnun Åmut yan Kutturan Natibu/Mwiischil Safey me Kkoor Aramasal Faluw conducted demonstrations and tasting of concocted medicine made from plants and herbs.

    In an interview, the governor said he believes in the effectiveness of the medicinal plants. He recounted that his parents were still making medicine out of plants they brought from Saipan to Bosie, Idaho.

    “When we moved in 1992, my parents were making natural medicines with ingredients we got from here. I was still drinking it. I think it is important for us to continue that. It is important to have someone who is able to continue to provide those local services,” the governor said.

    Amut Natibu president Isidoro Cabrera said this was the first proclamation ever made for the promotion of local plants and herbs medicine.

    “It is very significant to have this proclamation because it translates into giving out message to the community to make sure the preservation of plants and herbs and the traditional healing process,” Cabrera said, adding “it is very important that we continue to partake and teach the younger generation that this practice really helped when you have health problem.”

    He said the proclamation will help raise awareness in the community.

    To engage the interest of the students in traditional healing using plants and hersb, Cabrera added, they plan on having educational outreach to schools in the next few months.

    “We are still on the planning stage and arranging schedules for the schools.”

     

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    “Consider all career options” — CNMI Chief Justice Alexcandro Castro told HS student-leaders

    September 29th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    CNMI Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro gives career advise to KHS student leaders before administering their oath of office.
    Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio.

    COMMONWEALTH of Northern Mariana Island Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro early this month shared a few nuggets of wisdom to the officers of the Kagman High School Student Council before administering the oath of office to the new set of council officers.

    “Think of what you want to be when you grow up and at the same time consider other options,” he told the Stuco officers last September 14, as he asked them about their plans after high school.

    “Sometimes you don’t end up with what you want to be when you grow up,” the chief justice said as he shared his own experience – shifting from one career to another, until he found his calling in the legal system.

    “If you look at me, I wanted to be a priest. Then I moved to George Washington Senior High School and thought I wanted to be a doctor,” he said.

    He came to realized that medicine was not for him when he went in a field trip to Guam Memorial Hospital.

    “If you want to be a doctor, you go there. So I went to the hospital, go around it – the wards and everything. Right before lunch, we went into the ground floor where all the specimen were kept – amputated arms, parts of body and even fetus. They have displayed everything there. When I walked out, I told myself ‘I don’t want to be a doctor’,” he said.

    He attended the University of Guam and came back to the CNMI to teach. He taught for a year.

    “After that, I told myself I want to be a policeman. I became a policeman during the Trust territory.”

    As part of his duty, he walked into court, watching and protecting a judge and everybody in the court.

    “I saw lawyers, I saw the judge. I said I think I want to be a lawyer. From then on, I am still with the legal system.”

    “Do not go to the end of the world that it would take thousands of dollars to go back to your family,” the chief justice said.

    “If you are a very homesick person, don’t stay away from the CNMI too far because you would not be able to study. You will not be able to concentrate.”

    “Go join the military and go and see the world,” he said, adding “it is very hard for your mom and dad to put food on the table for everybody. Help your parents by getting scholarships or join the military.”

    Stuco Vice President Genzo Gonzales said he really appreciate the career advice gave by the chief justice.

    “When he was talking about the different career choices he made, it made me think what I want to study [in college].”

    He said Chief Justice Castro’s small pep talk made him realized the importance of achieving higher education.

    “It made me think that what we do after high school really matters.”

     

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    Marianas HS student receives Junior States of America Best Speaker Award

    September 28th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    (File photo) Kelvin Wolf showing his awards

    MARIANAS High School student Kelvin Wolf received the Best Speaker Award last June during JSA summer program at Princeton University.

    Wolf, a MHS senior, said he was one of the few students from the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Island who attended the JSA summer program.

    Established in 1934, JSA operates on high school campuses nationwide as an extracurricular activity. During the summer, JSA offers pre-college experience through summer schools and institutes.

     

     

    Summer schools are hosted on the campuses of Georgetown, Princeton, and Stanford universities. The program offers a college-level curriculum that includes advanced courses in government, politics, history and public speaking.

    “We spent one month taking advanced courses – either macro economics, speech and political communication and others. It condenses the entire college course into that one month. It gives you the college-level experience,” Wolf explained.

    During his junior year, he started applying for the JSA program and got accepted at Princeton University.

    “The award I received was the JSA best speaker award. In addition to the course you take, there’s also a debate workshop,” he said, adding all students were divided into four houses.

    “I was in House A. In my house, I was deemed the best speaker in the debate workshop,” he said.

    Wolf made it to the final debate. He said the final two teams competed and debated on the issue: “weather or not social media platforms should be held accountable for the news accuracy on the website.”

    “The people that received the JSA best speaker award were two students from each of the debate houses that competed in the final debate,” he said. (Wolf is one of the two).

    According to Wolf, it was his first time and his final opportunity to participate in the JSA program.

    “I came there with the intent to learn and receiving that award told me ‘you learned, you came and you did your best’,” Wolf said.

     

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    Marianas Trench photo exhibit now open for public at Hyatt

    September 25th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    NOAA’s 32 still photos of Marianas Trench deep are now on display at the Hyatt Regency Saipan lobby. The exhibition is a project initiated by the Friends of the Mariana Trench, HANMI and MVA. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the Hyatt lobby. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    THE Friends of the Mariana Trench or FOMT, in cooperation with the Marianas Visitors Authority and the Hotel Association of the Northern Marianas Islands or HANMI, is offering the community a glimpse of the Mariana Trench deep through 32-photo exhibition at the Hyatt Regency lobby.

    The photo exhibition, which began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony last September 7, features the photographs that came from the deep-water exploration in December 2016, said Lauri Peterka, a FOMT member.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ship Okeanos Explorer conducted exploration missions through its remotely operated underwater vehicle.

    The ROV Deep Discoverer, a robot, made daily dives from 250 to 6,000 meters and provided live video feedback to scientists aboard the ship.

    “We conversed with NOAA and they agreed that we could use some of their still-photos. We asked the MVA and HANMI to help us fund the project,” she said.

    According to Peterka, the exhibition would circulate for a minimum of 24 months and all HANMI-member hotels would host the exhibition each month.

    “They would rotate from one hotel lobby to another.”

    “We do not have museum here that is about science in the CNMI. The challenge is where we will put the exhibit. The idea came to us that each hotel lobby idea came to me that each hotel lobby provide exhibit space for just a short time so everybody – tourists or local – could see it,” Peterka said.

    For 24 months, Peterka said, the MVA will help control of the project.

    “Then the photographs would have to be retired to a public space, whether at the airport or library or someplace where people will see it. They could also put it on loan to other groups. The community may borrow the exhibits for educational purposes need,” she said.

    She said other establishments for exhibits may borrow it from the MVA at the end of 24 months.

    “If there are schools that are interested, we can work with schools.”

    “The goal of the exhibit is multi-faceted,” Peterka said.

    “First and foremost, we have no way of capturing the Marianas Trench. The first inspiration was we needed a way to touch the Marianas Trench because everyone is asking ‘where do we see the Marianas Trench?’ We have been waiting for the federal government to do something about the visitors’ center and it has not happening. We have been waiting for nine years,” she said, adding that they take it upon themselves not to wait for anybody by doing a way to make people see the Marianas Trench.

    She added the materials would also be useful in public education.

    “There are new species that discovered on this voyage that have never seen before and that they have yet to be named.”
    HANMI President Gloria Cavanaugh said the Hyatt Regency Saipan will have the Mariana Trench exhibition for the entire month and Fiesta Resort & Spa will host the same the following month.

    “We do have tourists that before they travel here they look and study the area, especially the divers. They want to know what Saipan has that makes it special. They always asked about the Marianas Trench,” Cavanaugh said.

    “The photos on display could actually bring what people are reading into something that they can’t actually see and touch. Obviously, you can’t go down 37,000 feet. This is something that brings it more into life.”
    According to Cavanaugh they are still working on the exhibition schedules on 12 HANMI-member hotels.

    “We want to do the Garapan core first because that would capture a lot of people and a lot of locals and schools to see this project,” Cavanaugh said.

     

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    Traditional healers ask Saipan Governor DLG Torres for land allocation

    September 23rd, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Some of the medicinal plants presented during the event. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    AMOT Natibu, a group of people that advocate for traditional healing through herbal and plants, is requesting Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to provide them a piece of land for local medicine garden.

    Isidoro Cabrera, the organization’s president, said they will request the government to allot a certain piece of land on Saipan, Tinian and Rota to grow on plants that useful for traditional healing.

    “A lot of places are now being destroyed by construction and development and they are damaging our plants. Our intention is to preserve it so that we don’t lose it for the other generation,” Cabrera said.
    On Saturday the Indigenous Affairs Office, in partnership with Amot Natibo, made a presentation about medicinal healing at the canoe house at Civic Center in Susupe.

    Cabrera said they brought over a hundred of plants that can be used as medicine to different ailments.

    “These represent 90 percent of plants on Saipan, Tinian and Rota that have medicinal uses. Some plants are hard to find. We find some of them on Rota, so we asked their help and brought the plants so we could propagate it on Saipan,” Cabrera said.

    Three traditional healers – Carmen Taimanao, Rosa Salalila and Donald Mendiola educate the people, who came to the event, about the plants and its medicinal uses.

    IAO Resident Executive Roman Tudela Jr. said the event was mostly presentation to familiarize the audience about the plants and its uses.

    On Sept. 18, 20 and 22, Tudela said, the traditional healers will teach the people how to make medicine out of plants.

    “The next event will be more on hands-on as they will be taught how to prepare medicine out of plants.”
    Amot Natibu was established in 2006.

    Cabrera said they have 12 active members who are all practicing traditional healing. He said the series of events hosted by IAO will help the organization advanced their goal – preserve and continue the traditional healing practice.

    “We want to educate the younger generation so they can carry out the tradition,” Cabrera added.

     

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    CHCC unveils completion of new standard-compliant pharmacy renovation

    September 18th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    IN A bid to comply with the new standard set by the United States Pharmacopeial Convention 797 and to make its pharmacological service efficient, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation has renovated its pharmacy department and announced its completion.

    With the focus on complying with the new standard, which will take effect on December 2019, the first phase of the project, the outpatient pharmacy, was officially opened on January this year.

    CHCC Chief Executive Officer Esther Muña, in a recent interview, recalled that they started renovating the inpatient pharmacy when the funding came after the opening of the outpatient pharmacy.

    CHCC-Public Health Emergency Preparedness director Warren Villagomez, for his part, said the renovation has upgraded the clean room – the area of the inpatient pharmacy where IV or intravenous solutions are prepared.

    The in-patient pharmacy is much bigger now, Muña noted, adding it took them six months to complete the renovation.

    “We have to find the right contractor, who actually knows what they are doing and who deals with healthcare facility projects.”

    She, however, clarified that it is not a new facility.

    “We are actually trying to fit a new system, new walls. We have to make sure the shipment items perfectly fit so they can be installed easily.”

    She added the testing of the equipment and the modular clean room were tested in July.

    “We require the testing to make sure that it works and there’s no infection.”

    The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been surveying the CHCC annually. In the past, the CMS has not cited the pharmacy because it is still compliant to the federal standard, said Muña.

    But she added that they decided to prioritize the renovation of the pharmacy department to be able to meet the new standards which will be implemented next year.

    Inpatient’s sterilize compounding space. Photo by Lyn Lirio

    U.S.P. 797 standard describes the guidelines, procedures and compliance requirements for compounding sterile preparations and sets the standards for sterile preparations compounding.

    “When the new standard takes effect, we want to make sure that we continuously to be compliant. We are expecting a survey soon from the CMS. One of the requirements of the survey is that you meet the requirements of the new regulations,” Muña said.

    Pharmacy manager Rodylyn Bacani said the inpatient pharmacy was located in a small room beside the operating room.

    “Both departments – inpatient and outpatient – are now in one location. Our staff is working on both departments. It is more convenient now and efficient,”she said.

    She said it is important to renovate and update the inpatient pharmacy because that is where they basically process all pharmaceutical needs for the hospital and for all the departments, especially for admitted patients.

    “We are the one preparing, making sure that we give the right medication and right doses. We also provide for Tinian and Rota health centers. We also do chemotherapy for cancer patients, that is why it is very important for us to have hazardous IV room that we have now so that our pharmacist who prepared the chemotherapywould be protected from [chemical] harm,” Bacani added.

    Staff pharmacist Kim Runge said the renovation of the inpatient pharmacy “will make a difference in quality healthcare that we will be able to provide to people of the CNMI.”

    The renovation was accomplished in part through supplemental appropriations from Saipan Local Law 20-19 which appropriates US$200,000 for the CHCC.

    The inpatient pharmacy services include: compounding of chemotherapy and/or biological for cancer patients and other sterile products; compounding sterile IV antibiotics and eye drops; daily clinical monitoring program for optimum drug treatment; overseeing the Antibiotic Stewardship Program;maintaining pharmaceutical inventory for emergency preparedness.

     

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    Northern Marianas Trades Institute seeks collaboration with Philippines’ TESDA

    September 16th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    THE Northern Marianas Trades Institute is looking to collaborate with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or TESDA, one of the biggest technical institutes in the Philippines.

    NMTI human resources officer Frank Rebauliman said he, board vice chair Joseph Torres and director Herman B. Cabrera and House Speaker Ralph Demapan flew to Manila last Aug. 13 and met with TESDA officials.

    NMTI Chief Executive Officer Agnes McPhetres asked the NMTI representatives to make inquires on TESDA curriculum and seek instructors in the areas of welding, carpentry, plumbing and machinist.

    “We need those people who are trained to teach. The people we hired here are workers and we are training them to teach. But I would really like to see teachers or instructors with teaching experience,” McPhetres said.

    She added the NMTI is willing to process their papers and bring them to Saipan to teach in the trade school. Rebauliman said they hope to explore the possibilities of exchanging technical assistance and resources through forging a memorandum of agreement with TESDA.

    “It is all exploratory at this point. We don’t have any particular courses that we are focusing. We want to know exactly what their curriculum is. We want to go in there with open mind but understanding that we do have certain needs here,” Rebauliman said in an interview.

    McPhetres said she sees the possible forging of MOA with TESDA as something that can help improve the institution.

    “We are hoping to emulate what they have, especially the instructors. We are always on the lookout for instructors. This is the prime opportunity to go there and possibly having some instructors come over here and spend some time to teach.”

     

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    “WELL-balanced teachers lead to well-balanced students” — CNMI Superior Court Associate judge

    September 9th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim Tenorio. Photo by saipantribune.com

    “WELL-balanced teachers lead to well-balanced students.”

    Thus said Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim Tenorio during the recent CNMI Public School System’s kickoff rally for the school year 2018-19 at the Marianas High School Gym.

    “Practice self care. I can’t stress enough the importance of it, especially as educators,” Tenorio, as the event’s keynote speaker, advised the teachers to practice self care.

    Being a teacher, the judge said, is one of the hardest jobs because they are dealing with kids. The lady magistrate also recognized the big role being played by the teachers in the lives of the students.

    “You have a room full of kids and are required to teach one subject to different students at different learning levels, which means that you tailor that subject to each student’s level. You deal with their issues at home when necessary. You mediate fights between classmates. You have to keep up with their generational culture and so much more.”

    Once again, she told the teachers to “step back, breath and take care of yourself.”

    She said teachers probably suffer a lot of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

    “I was at a training for judges and one of the topics discussed was PTSD. We all know PTSD, but I had never heard it described the way the presenter described it. He said PTSD is the result of a person observing a traumatic situation… observing the traumatic situation and not being able to do anything about it. Feeling helpless!” she said.

    Teachers, according to the judge, see some students not focusing on studies, or constantly get in trouble because they are either being bullied at school or abused at home.

    “These are just a couple examples of many other traumas you experience as teachers. So please practice self care.”

    In dealing with children, the courts and the PSS have parallel partnerships. She said there are some students who face struggles and come in contact with the courts for either child custody, battles, neglect, abuse, divorce, wardships and others issues.

    “I do what I do and you do what you do. In the end, it complements, intersects, and hopefully it is what works best for the student. I make decisions on how a family will function. You guide and support that student,” said the judge, who admitted that she was agonizing when she make decisions affecting children.

    In every case, she looked at every angle and appreciated the reports, testimonies, arguments she received. Her decision is guided by the law and the standard of what is in the best interest of the child.

    The mutual support of educators and the court, according to the judge, would make a difference in the student’s life.

     

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    There is a gap between healthcare and ordinary folks in Saipan

    September 8th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    UCLA graduate Abigail Dimaano spent over 900 hours as an intern at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. Dimaano is leaving for Los Angeles this week to pursue her education in healthcare. Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

    THERE is an existing gap between ordinary folks and healthcare in Saipan, according a Fil-Am intern of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

    Abigail Dimaano made this observation during her internship at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC). She said her observation confirmed her desire to want to pursue either medicine or take physician assistance program in the future.

    Dimaano explained that her love for the island and her concern for the people’s health motivated her to take an internship at the CHCC.

    “I knew I always wanted to come back here because I grew up here. I knew that eventually I wanted to work here and specifically wanted to work in healthcare,” Dimaano said in an interview.

    Dimaano, 22, received her degree in Bachelor of Science in Biology at the University of California, Los Angles in 2017.

    “After school, I came here. I started my internship at CHCC in Sept. 2017,” Dimaano said, adding she did over 900 hours of volunteer work for the hypertension project led by CHCC’s Corporate Quality and Performance Management or CQPM.

    “I spend half of my time in the office – reviewing, summarizing and presenting the data to our team. Other half of the time was actually in the community conducting the blood pressure screening,” she said. They would go to stores like Joeten Supermarket or Twins Supermarket to set up table and screen people who would want to get their blood pressure.

    “In between my undergrad and my further education, I was going to have a gap year. I wanted to spend my gap year here on Saipan because my parents are here, I grew up here. I knew that I wanted to work here in the future. I like Saipan and the community and I wanted to come back,” she said.

    She said her internship at the CHCC was a good experience for her because she got the opportunity to get out in the community and interview people.

    “Some of these people have never really seen a doctor or some of these are uninsured or have no status. To talk to people as sort of first line of healthcare that they see, it was really good to get involved and tell people where to get help and educate them about the blood pressure.”

    “Being in school is different. It is interesting to be in school and learning these things through books. But it is more interesting to get a hands-on experience. So for me it is valuable to be out in the field, in the community,” she said.

    “Coming back here is giving me a picture of where would I be working. It gave me the confirmation what I want to pursue and where I invest all my time and energy. I like working here and the community and I like medicine,” she said.
    During her internship, Dimaano said she noticed a gap with the screening that they conduct and the clinic. Most often, she said the blood pressure and blood sugar screening was conducted either in public health or any community organization.

    “They hand people these numbers that tell them their blood pressure or blood sugar but there would no coordination to the healthcare providers like doctors. There is really a gap between seeing people in the community and connecting them to a doctor which is the ultimate goal – to get unhealthy people to be seen by doctors and get them a regular care so they could treat their problem. That is one of the problems we address in our project.”

    Dimaano is leaving for Los Angeles this week to pursue her education in healthcare.

     

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    Saipan’s only school for the behaviorally and academically challenged has reached its population limit

    September 3rd, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Image © sites.google.com

    SAIPAN’s only school for the behaviorally and academically challenged could take in no more students.

    This after the Da’ok Academy Principal Eric Evangelista disclosed that the academy has already reached its maximum population of 50 students which were referred to the academy by the Marianas High School, Kagman High School and Saipan Southern High School.

    “These are students who are on the borderline of almost dropping out of school. Our job is to intervene, help them and guide them to pull themselves up,” Evangelista said.

    In an interview, the principal said not everyone can enroll at the academy.

    “There is referral process that comes from the classroom teacher, school counselor and school administration. They would recommend and give us the referral list. The referral list will consist of the student’s profile, and we will sit down with the students. We will interview the student with the parents. Once the interview is complete, the interview committee will make a decision of acceptance of the students.”

    The Da’ok Academy can only accommodate a maximum of 50 full-time students. It is among the many schools under the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Island Public School System.

    Last year, there were 42 enrollees but it went down to 30 at the end of the school year.

    “Because of our physical school size, the school population is only limited to certain numbers,” he said, adding “we want to make sure that we are able to provide the alternative education setting for students.”
    For Da’ok Academy, alternative education is different from the main school.

    Evangelista said they focused on the “BASE” need of students.

    “BASE is Behavior, Academics, Social and Emotional factors of the students. Those are the four components that we look within our school. Once we take the student’s profile and we take the interview with all those information, we aligned the BASE information – does the student more assistance in behavior, or academics or social and emotional factors?” he said.

    “Most people think that school is academics only. It is not just academics. We look at the student as a whole. We look at behavior, what challenge do they face? Do they struggle in class? We looked at social and emotional factor, are they communicating the right way? Are they able to self managed themselves in regards to dealing with other people?” the principal added.

    Evangelista said the increasing enrollment of Da’ok Academy means higher students who need intervention.

    “The need is high. Our biggest task is to make sure that these students stay on track. We have to figure out ways to positively reinforced them to come to school. We need to find ways to motivate them and inspire them to make them want to go to school.”

    Da’ok Academy’s mission is to provide alternative educational setting to students who need guidance and assistant in developing their behavioral, academic, social and emotional foundational skills to be college and career ready for life, Evangelista said.

     

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    The oldest Christian school in Saipan shuts down temporarily

    September 1st, 2018

    AFTER 34 years of serving the Mariana islands, the Marianas Baptist Academy, the oldest Christian school on Saipan, has shut down its operation for the school year 2018-19 due to its dwindling population.

    The school’s empty classrooms confirmed that the MBA ceased its operation at least for this school year and no staff was present at the premises.

    Lea Alfred, one of the school’s board members, said they are set to hold a meeting and will issue a statement to the media afterwards.

    MBA principal and Marianas Baptist Church Pastor Ramiro H. Trinidad, who is now teaching Math, Chemistry and Biology at Agape Christian School, refused to be interviewed.

    In school year 2017-2018, the MBA had more than 40 students enrolled. The MBA can accommodate about 90 students.

    A source told this writer that this school year, only half of students came back to enroll. The source added that some of their Korean students did not come back to the island and some transferred to public school.

    The same source said the shutdown was only temporary and they are still planning to reopen. It was learned that the Marianas Baptist Church has leased the land until 2032 “with the option to extend.”

    Marianas Baptist Academy’s empty hallway. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    The MBA was established in 1984 through a resolution of Marianas Baptist Church meeting in a regular business session.

    The academy received its first three-year charter to operate in the CNMI on Aug. 27, 1984.
    Since then, the MBA had been offering co-educational, Christian, college-preparatory, secondary school to grades through 12.

    One of the goals of the academy was to provide strong academic program that would assure the graduates entrance into the institution of higher learning of their choice. Since its establishment, MBA had been known for excelling in the state- and national-level academic competitions. Their recent achievements include representing the CNMI to the 2018 National Junior Academic Challenge in Orlando, Florida where they finished Top 6 in the event.

    In 2017, they also represented the CNMI in the same competition.

    For two years in a row, the MBA ruled the annual Academic Challenge Bowl Middle School Division. Hence, they get to represent the CNMI in the national competition in 2017 and 2018.

    (Read More: http://beyonddeadlines.com/2018/02/18/filipino-american-shines-marianas-baptist-academy-wins-16th-academic-challenge-bowl-saipan/)

    The MBA team received a silver medal for placing second in the Mathcourt competition in April.

    In 2017, then seventh-grade Joanah Victoria Jimenez won the National Geographic Bee Pacific regional competition. This made her qualified in the national championship level. She represented the CNMI and the Pacific region in the national competition held in Washington, D.C. in May of the same year.

    The academy is an integral part of the ministry of Marianas Baptist Church, located on Dandan.

     

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    Law supporting cultural experts proposed in Saipan.

    August 31st, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Roman Tudela Jr. Photo by The Guam Daily Post

    A LAW exempting from business license fees individuals who educate others, especially the younger generations of Chamorros and Carolinians, about the local culture was passed before the local Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Island legislature.

    This was learned after the Indigenous Affairs Office Resident Executive Roman Tudela Jr. expressed support for House Bill 20-180 which aims to provide exemption to individuals who educate others and the younger generation of the Chamorro and/or Carolinian cultures’ customs, history and traditions and for other purposes.

    He said the bill, if passed, will further maximize the utilization of the elderly who have vast knowledge in Chamorro and Carolinian culture.

    Introduced by Speaker Ralph Demapan, H.B. 20-180 is expected to pass and become law.

    According to Tudela the IAO and the Carolinian Affairs Office have taken initiatives in exerting efforts to promote the indigenous cultures by hosting conferences, workshops, summer camps, and others.

    “We approached Speaker Demapan to see if they can waive the requirement, at least for the procurement purposes, of these people who are knowledgeable of our customs and traditions,” he said.

    Tudela explained that the procurement regulation policy requires the government offices that any individual they hire for professional service must have business license.

    “The IAO, CAO’s awareness programs are culturally-related and we only have few people that we can tap. They cannot get a business license because we do not get their services on a regular basis.”

    “Sometimes we only get them for consultation and we tried to extract information from them. Requiring them to have a business license would be very difficult for us and for these people – most of them are elderly but have vast knowledge in our culture.”

    He said these elderly people still carry a lot of knowledge the younger generations do not know.

    “They are willing to teach us, share with us and show us our tradition. We would like to, at least, compensate them for making the information available I have to pay this incentives for them to share their knowledge.”

    “They are cultural practitioners that do not have business license. Our office needs these people. In the absence of a business license, they are unable to take part in assisting to promote and prolong the values that embody the Chamorro and Carolinian cultures.”

     

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    From malls to cannabis industry, CNMI student leaders talked about their plans for Saipan

    August 29th, 2018

    By Lori Lyn Lirio

    Twenty-four students from public and private schools participated in the 2018 Youth Leadership Cohort. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

    STUDENT leaders from Saipan have recently expressed their concern over their people’s welfare after noting the cloud of uncertainty over the horizon.

    This after 24 student leaders who participated in the 2018 Youth Leadership Cohort, where they were taught leadership skills and learned step-by-step framework in achieving their goals, were given recognition by the leadership cohort organizers.

    During the recognition ceremony at the American Memorial Park threatre on August 3, the students, who were divided in five groups, presented issues in the community and offer solutions.

    Kagman High School STUCO officers De Faustina Camacho, Dianne Torres, Alanna Romolor, Kyle San Nicolas and Goddhy Taitingfong said they wanted to build a Veterans Center.

    They observed that many of the youth in the CNMI enlist in the military service but have no specific plans after their contracts, and that military members who have returned may possibly need assistance in future living conditions.

    “This can be a potential critical issue if we don’t address it now as many of the youth enlist into the military,” Camacho said.

    The center, the KHS student leaders said, will be build for veterans, service members and their family members who seek support for their needs. This will prevent the CNMI from having more veterans, service members or their families at risk of homelessness or health issues.

    On the other hand, student leaders from Saipan Southern High School Elaiza Suarez, Tommie Sablan, Mazie Manalang, Patricia Atalig, Champ Sabangan and Andre Taitingfong wanted to build mall on Saipan to create more job opportunities, attract more tourists, and it will serve as cheaper alternative to T Galleria.

    They believed that building a mall can benefit both the economy and the communities by giving people more jobs, affordable goods and increase tourist attraction.

    “If a mall were to be built on island, we would have a potential boost in the economy.”

    Meanwhile, Marcky Masilungan and Wilgene Lieto, of Grace Christian Academy, and Dayna Macaranas, of Mount Carmel School, wanted to create a marijuana dispensary that will assist in developing a cannabis industry in the CNMI.

    “With this cannabis industry, the CNMI will benefit economically, scientifically, environmentally, and medically.”

    The group emphasized that they do not endorse marijuana to youth, but what they presented was a business plan for possible marijuana dispensary for medical purposes.

    For their part, Angela Barbo, John Bucayo and Esther Huh of Marianas High School and Talia Trianni, of Grace Christian Academy, discussed the obesity in the CNMI.

    They noted the World Health Organization/Pacific Region research indicating that 40 percent of the Pacific Island’s region’s population has been diagnosed with non-communicable disease, notably cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension. These diseases account for three quarters of all deaths across the Pacific archipelago and 40 to 60 percent of the total health-care expenditure.

    The student leaders wanted to create a program that can specifically help people who are obese or overweight by partnering with clinics and gyms and other agencies that can hold events like walkathons and other island-wide health events.

    GCA’s Sheena Varias and Tiah Camacho, of SSHS, Carl Garon, of MHS, and Justine Calayo wanted to help students who are struggling or wanting to improve their academic performance through peer and instructor assistance though Students Engaging in Academics and Learning program.

    The group recognized that some students in the CNMI are struggling academically due to limited learning support centers for student, limited interaction with an instructor and limited time to study.

    Their goal is to educate the next generation and enrich each student’s knowledge and abilities.

    Commonwealth of Northern Mariana island Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, during the recognition ceremony, told the youth leaders that everyone excelled at different pace, different topic/subject and different issues.

    “Each and every one of you can make an impact. Always advocate leadership. Know that everyone is watching you and everyone is waiting for you to step up and we will be here to support you,” the governor said.

    CNMI Rep. Angel Demapan lauded the students for their presentations.

    “I was impressed. They were not the usual topics that teenagers talked about. They put a lot of time and effort to research on those very critical topics.”

    “Hearing those presentations really help us, public servant, to formulate our plan and solidify what are the proposals for those particular areas. To hear it from the perspective of junior and senior high school students bring a breath of fresh air. A lot of those things are active discussion on the table,” Demapan said.

     

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