AOHT students get chance for TV air time

PO‘IPU — An opportunity to be on the NBC Today Show emerged as part of the Kaua‘i High School’s Academy of Hospitality and Tourism’s job shadow experience Thursday.

For eight of the approximately 20 students who were dispatched to resort properties on Kaua‘i’s South Shore, they were put in front of cameras as subjects for a “b-roll” taping at the Sheraton Kaua‘i.

“It’s not confirmed, yet,” Tia Graham, the Sheraton’s director of marketing said. “But the firm that handles our public relations wants footage of the Teen Concierge program for consideration by NBC for an upcoming ‘Today Show’ segment.”

Following the briefing by the Sheraton’s Elli Gorman, the students broke down into groups of instructors and visitors for the benefit of local videographer Katie Beer who was commissioned to do the piece.

“They’ll be several segments,” Denise Wardlow, the Sheraton’s director of operations said. “They’ll be a poi pounding segment, a Hawaiian games segment and a segment on flower lei.”

Leah Aiwohi, the director of the AOHT program, said the students at the Sheraton were not the only students doing job shadowing.

“We have students placed at the Marriott Waiohai and the Grand Hyatt Regency Kaua‘i, too,” she said. “Today is their job shadow day so they’re in the South Shore resorts getting hands-on experience in the hospitality industry.”

Aiwohi said the footage shot Thursday was for consideration on the Today Show’s segment on “tween programs.”

As the students were briefed on their tasks, Sheraton Kaua‘i General Manager Angela Vento chatted with Aiwohi and Elena Kealoha about details on the Teen Concierge program that was started early in the school year.

The goal of developing the Teen Concierge Program was to cater to the teenage guest who tends to crave freedom while on vacation with parents, states a press release from Graham.

“We have a great Keiki Aloha Program and we have many activities for adults, so we wanted to do something for the teens,” Wardlow said.

Details for the Teen Concierge Program started with planning late last year and progressed to the point where the AOHT students are bringing it to life.

Thursday’s filming involved a recreation of some of the program’s highlights.

Activities spanned a four-day itinerary and included a Movie under the Stars preceded by a teen social hour, a tour of Kamokila Hawaiian Village, Surf to Sunset Lu‘au with Makahiki Games and horseback riding.

Planning took place with the Sheraton Kaua‘i membership group which included Vento, Wardlow, front office manager Owen Huff and director of human resources Shannon Ladd.

“There was a great working partnership with Sheraton Kaua‘i,” Aiwohi said. “The managers of the resort gave the students creative freedom while remaining accessible at all times.”

Randi Oketani, one of the AOHT students whose mother is a guest service agent at the Sheraton Kaua‘i was able to see the work pay off.

“The planning was very hard, but the best part was actually being able to work with the teens,” she said. “Most of the kids were very bored. They were happy to be with us and away from their parents.”

The Academy of Hospitality and Tourism is a two-year program offered to juniors and seniors at Kaua‘i High School who are interested in pursuing a career in the tourism industry.

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

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