Students experience work world at ‘Ele’ele

‘ELE’ELE — “Flight ELE now boarding through the right gate. All passengers should have their boarding passes out for collection by the ticket agent.”

That agent was Eleele School Principal Dr. Liela Nitta, and third-grade students were given an opportunity to experience a close-up look at the work done by Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant Kanoelani Gibson on Thursday.

Teacher chaperones for the third-grade class were impressed by the amount of effort that went into creating the seating arrangement of an airline cabin within the classroom, and Gibson’s presentation was given an air of authenticity by the extra effort.

Gibson, who also wore the crown of Miss Hawaii 2004 as well as being the first runner up in the Miss America pageant, was just one of 22 career presenters who converged on the school for the annual Career Day event.

“I’ve been doing this for five years,” chef Mark Oyama of Mark’s Place and Contemporary Flavors Catering said as he watched kindergarten students troop in orderly fashion out of the room to enjoy a cake that he had just decorated.

“This is a really fun grade,” he said. “But sometimes, they ask some things that put you on the spot.”

Oyama explained that during a vegetable-carving demonstration at another school, the students wanted to know “How come there’s no bird? How come this? How come that?”

Those questions caused him to improvise carvings on the spot, as he reflected on how he had to answer the questions while improvising the carving as he went along.

Similar questions were posed by fifth-grade students of members of the Roy’s Poipu Bar and Grill team, headed by Malia Cataluna, as one student wanted to know, “How much do you get paid?”

Meanwhile, a more intellectual question was posed of Romel Begonia of the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa’s Dondero’s restaurant, when someone wanted to know the difference between island pork and imported pork.

At the third-grade level, Nicole Nonaka, a pastry chef from the Kaua’i Marriott Resort & Beach Club, had students dipping a variety of items in a chocolate fountain.

For the students and staff members, Career Day offered an opportunity for close-up looks at the professions of many community workers, including perennial stalwarts like policemen, firemen, and paramedics, who supplemented their talks with close-up looks at their various equipment, including a police cruiser, the fire truck from the Hanapepe fire station of the Kaua’i Fire Department, and an American Medical Response ambulance stationed on the Westside.

Brad Akana of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement had one of the division’s dogs on hand, although a demonstration had to be modified, as Career Day coordinator Misty Tsukayama explained, “the guy who was supposed to be ‘bitten’ broke his leg last night.”

Ericka Davidson, a counselor at Kekaha School, watched intently as Tsukayama dispatched student greeters to accompany their guests to the various classrooms around the school.

“I never realized just how big the school is,” Davidson said. She was an observer at the event in hopes of launching a similar program for Kekaha School later in the spring.

For many of the presenters, it was a matter of bringing their work packaged in a microcosm, while others impressed upon the students the necessity of studying hard if they want to get into their chosen fields.

Malcolm Doi, golf instructor, had the fifth-graders doing exercises, as he led students through simulated golf swings, and, using charts and other materials, applied principles of mathematics, physics, and science.

“My son is only 2, and everything is ‘Jamba Juice,'” Tsukayama said while noting that Matt Talarico of the Kukui Grove Center store brought supplies to prepare Jamba Juice creations for his class.

Following the classroom presentations, a school-wide gathering provided the presenters another venue to show other facets of their lives, such as entertainment featuring Gibson, Dr. and Mrs. Dennis Haack, and kumu hula Nani Higa.

Presenters were also treated to a wide variety of refreshments prepared especially for the event by parents of the school’s students.


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