Focusing on excellence

LIHU’E — Sierra Mayer cradled it in her hands as she worked to get the feel of the tiny, new video camera Sunday.

The camera was one of two earned by the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School’s video program as prizes from the ‘Olelo Youth XChange Video Competition on O’ahu.

Critical youth issues form the basis of student video projects that earned the winning schools video cameras contributed by Sony Hawaii.

When the CK TV team left for the awards ceremony last weekend, instructor Kevin Matsunaga said they had a total of five entries that were finalists for awards.

The team ended up winning two awards, the first being “Billy,” an animation piece created by Heather Hamamura and Allegra Bundschuh, about the effects of drug use.

“Billy” also finished as an honor-able mention in the judges’ choice category.

Randee Layosa and Carly Matsumoto produced “Don’t Let It Burn,” a public-service announcement about what one can lose when taking drugs. That PSA won the best PSA in the middle-school division.

Matsunaga said that Hanalei School’s piece, “Subtract the Ads,” was also a finalist in the animation division, but because there were no other elementary-school entries, Hanalei was placed with the middle school competitors.

Teal Basquez and Kiara Chong produced “Crystal Meth…Before and After,” another PSA that was a finalist in the middle-school division.

Duke Wellington and Sierra Mayer produced a mini-documentary, “Middle School Tips,” that was also a finalist in the middle-school, mini-documentary division.

“Having a voice that would be noticed, and the possibility to help resolve or better a situation, enables students to impact their communities with their voice, using the creative power of video to deliver their views,” said Ellen Kazama, the ‘Olelo coordinator, in an organization newsletter.

A total of 210 entries were received by ‘Olelo for the competition, and went through a rigorous judging process that included community leaders and industrial professionals as finalist judges.

This was the second year that ‘Olelo hosted the student competition. Student entries may be viewed on TEACH Channel 56 through July. Schedules and air dates are available by logging on to ‘Olelo’s Web site at www.olelo.org.

Coming off the heels of their wins at the ‘Olelo Youth XChange, Matsunaga said the group will be heading to O’ahu next week, where three of their video pieces are finalists in the HMSA/Sassy Magazine Teen Video Awards.

Presentations will be made at the Ward Theaters on May 4, and Matsunaga said this competition is a tough one because the middle schools are included with high-school productions.

The CK TV finalist productions include “Billy” and “Crystal Meth…Before and After,” both in the anti-drug, PSA category.

Wellington and Mayer authored “Good Start,” a PSA that is in the finals in the healthy-living category.

During the Pu’uwai Aloha — A Giving Heart, county, volunteer-recognition event Sunday, Matsunaga had two of his award-winning videographers on hand to help with the recording.

Mayer was assigned to one of the two Sony cameras, while Chong tended to the bigger camera, along with Kayla Perez.

Matsunaga said that Art Umezu, county film commissioner in the county Office of Economic Development and one of the leaders for the volunteer-recognition event, had expressed an interest in getting background footage of the event, as well as footage when Umezu’s composition, penned especially for the event, was performed.

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