Students readying for high-tech jobs

LIHU‘E — Archilles Singsong was dealing with negotiating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act ramp with his electric car Tuesday.

Members of the Waimea High School Electron Marathon team were unloading their vehicle for a demonstration that was part of the Third Annual Adopt-a-School Learning Celebration taking place at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihu‘e.

But, the ADA-ramp problem was quickly solved, and graphically demonstrated the depth of thinking demonstrated by not only high-school students, but from elementary and middle-school students as well.

Part of the Aloha Ike program coordinated by officials at the Kaua‘i Economic Development Board, schools from around the island assembled at the celebration to show the results of their year’s partnerships with community sponsors.

Kalaheo School third-graders had no problems explaining the different parts of a corn plant and, referring to both a hard copy booklet as well as a slide presentation on a laptop computer, lost little time explaining the process of creating a cornfield on a portion of land situated at the back of their school.

“I’m an engineer and I didn’t know some of that,” Clyde Kodani laughed as he listened to the presentation of watershed concepts being made by students from King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School.

Kodani’s firm, Clyde Kodani & Associates, is one of the community sponsors who worked with Kapa‘a Middle School students during the 2005-06 school year.

The King Kaumuali‘i Elementary students were kept busy throughout the morning, as a steady stream of representatives heard their presentations.

Tom Clements of the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands near Mana and Kekaha said they will be hosting another rocket launch Saturday, with students from Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School being initiated into the ranks of model rocketeers.

Barbara Fontana, one of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration-trained instructors from Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, said, “We now have a rocket club. It’s amazing how much the students have advanced in such a short time.”

The interest in rocketry stemmed from a visit by a representative of the NASA program earlier in the year, when he had students create and launch bottle rockets.

The CKMS students will be joining the ranks of Waimea High School, who continue to work with PMRF volunteers and rocket enthusiasts with launches on the base.

Eleele School teacher Leighton Kabutan was quick to acknowledge the effort put forth by their partner, Aqua Engineers, in helping the school’s students expand their original aquaculture project.

Kabutan had an abundance of photos showing Aqua Engineers volunteers working to build a new facility that now incorporates hydroponics along with their aquaculture program.

“The old facility was small, and because it was along one side of the building, it blocked the sun,” Kabutan said.

This triggered a strong response by Aqua Engineers to expand the program.

“They not only provided the supplies,” Kabutan said. “They brought out a lot of volunteers to help with the labor.”

Similar success stories overflowed the convention hall, and both school representatives as well as community partners waited anxiously for the announcement of the pairings for the 2006-07 school year.

“Which one do you think is the best?” asked Mary Daubert, county public information officer.

There was no single outstanding presentation. Instead, what was outstanding was the ability of the school teachers and students to apply the availability of high-technology resources to the learning environment of their respective schools.

PMRF will continue to be a partner with all schools, and Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a strong force with the development of the Kalaheo School cornfield, will continue to partner with all West Complex schools.

General Dynamics was announced as Kekaha School’s partner.

Waimea High School is paired with Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative, Computer Sciences Corporation, STU LLC, and the National Tropical Botanical Garden.

SAIC was named the partner of Waimea Canyon School, and Aqua Engineers will continue to work with Eleele School.

John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and Pioneer Hi-Bred were partnered with Kalaheo School.

ITT will continue their working relationship with Koloa School in the Central Complex, and Oceanit will continue their partnership with Wilcox Elementary School.

Esaki Surveying & Mapping, Computer Sciences Corporation, and STU LLC will be partnered with Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School.

Raytheon Solipsys and KIUC will partner with King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School, while Trex is the partner of Kaua‘i High School.

Clyde Kodani & Associates will continue their partnership with Kapa‘a Middle School, and KIUC will partner with Kapa‘a High School.

SSFM International is the partner for Kapa‘a Elementary School, and Envisioneering will be helping Kilauea School.

Princeville Resort will be the partner with Hanalei School.

One of the ideas behind the Aloha Ike program is to bring the island’s business community together with schools to help align Kaua‘i’s children’s goals with the career opportunities of the future.

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

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