No bunny-hopping for busy students

LIHU‘E — While some recovered from the long Easter weekend, others were hard at work.

Students at the Kaua‘i High School’s Academy Of Hospitality and Travel (AOHT) were busy starting Friday, and while some of their peers were back in school, five were job-shadowing at the Kaua‘i Marriott Resort & Beach Club Tuesday.

The AOHT students converged en masse at the Culinary Institute of the Pacific Fourth Annual Spring Gourmet Gala at the Kaua‘i Community College, where they spent the greater part of the evening being an integral part of the successful event.

Students were involved in almost all phases of the event attended by over 450 guests, as some of the group were dispatched to help with registration and ticket collections, while others were equipped with trays to help collect dishes utilized by patrons to sample the fare being prepared by a dozen Kaua‘i chefs and four visiting guest chefs.

“These students were phenomenal,” said Conrad Nonaka of the Culinary Institute of the Pacific. “They worked hard, and they always had a smile on their faces. They deserve the appreciation of everyone who came to the event.” Although occupied for most of the evening, some did manage to get in some sampling just prior to the group assembling for a group photo with the visiting chefs.

But, the weekend was only getting started, as representatives from the group, escorted by one of their instructors, Andrea Watts, were on hand Saturday for the kickoff celebration for the Visitor Industry Charity Walk.

Armed with scrapbooks that chronicled their two-year journey through the AOHT program, students Nicole Iglesia and Lane Carbonel fielded questions from audience members at the festive kickoff event.

This was followed Tuesday when five students: Jessica Callejo, Randi Oketani, Cara Nonaka, Meagan Simms, and Kathleen Constantino, showed up for a job-shadow experience at the Kaua‘i Marriott Resort & Beach Club.

Looking more like experienced hands than interns, Oketani and Callejo worked alongside concierge staff members Toshiko Saiki, Jen Masada- White, and Belinda Tangalin, in fielding a wide variety of questions from resort guests.

“We’re learning what it takes to be a concierge,” Oketani said. “Everything from answering phones to getting things in the computer.” While a guest inquired about surfing lessons, Oketani was getting familiarized with a concierge listing of the many activities available for guests to engage in while here.

Oketani said that the other students were dispatched to other areas of the resort, include Simms going to work at the front desk, Nonaka working in engineering, and Constantino being assigned to At Your Service (AYS), whose activities ranged from answering phones to taking care of room-service orders.

AOHT students enroll in the two-year program during their junior year at Kaua‘i High School, and along with core courses, are immersed in classes centering around the visitor industry and travel.

More recently, AOHT students joined students from Kula High & Intermediate and six other high schools from around the state in helping to create advertisements for Hawaiian Airlines under the direction of Starr Seigle Advertising, the airline’s agency.

These advertising spots were linked to local-kine activities that students identify most with Hawai‘i.

Leesha Kawamura, one of the AOHT board members and an employee with Hawaiian Air, said the program was awarded with digital-camera equipment valued at over $3,500 for their participation.

Chanelle Quinones is the director for the AOHT program at Kaua‘i High School.

• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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