Fifth-graders get hands-on with the visitor industry

PO‘IPU — Kalaheo School student Kayla Ishida’s baking skills came into good use, Friday.

Ishida was one of two students assigned to Pastry Chef Orly Yadao of the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa during the resort’s annual Camp Hyatt Career Day.

“She’s really good, and fast,” Yadao said, proudly displaying a tray of chocolate dipped strawberries which was done by the elementary school student. “She said she loves to bake when she’s at home.”

That comment brought forth retorts from the staff at the resort’s culinary department, one worker joking that she can now take a vacation and Chef Orly can “hire” Ishida as a replacement.

Seventeen students from Koloa and Kalaheo schools were invited to be part of the annual career day where students were assigned to various departments within the 50-acre resort, and over a two-hour span, had hands-on experience working alongside the resort’s staff in carrying out various tasks.

“He’s really good,” said Rebecca Pascual, a barista at the Seaview Terrace coffee bar. “Tyren learned the cash register, he punched in customer’s orders, and knew how to make change. He pretty much can do a lot of the things here except for handling the machines because they’re too high for him to reach.”

Tyren Kaneshige of Kalaheo School was assigned to the room service department, but ended up helping Pascual for his tour.

Pascual also had her daughter Angelica, a Koloa School student, shadowing the resort’s Public Relations Officer Diann Hartman in trying to locate the students within the 600-room resort.

“Angela learned how important writing skills are in public relations,” Hartman said. “She also said it seems fun because you get to meet with writers and sometimes go to New York on a media blitz with writers and editors. She really wants to go to New York.”

During the tour that took the pair through the back of the house in search of the students in the culinary and housekeeping departments, Angelica also met up with a producer who was working on a golf show at the Po‘ipu Bay Golf Course and needed the help of Hartman in setting up some of the project.

Doug Sears, the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i’s general manager, also had a shadow in Kalaheo School student Madison Hoapili who lost little time in asking him for a pay raise right after she was introduced.

“We all enjoy and look forward to this day every year,” Sears said. “We believe that this hands-on experience is a great way to help youth understand the importance of education and introduce them to the many employment opportunities in this exciting field.”

That hands-on extended beyond actually working as students Noah Kaulalaau and Elijah Lagundino discovered.

“You can make some good tips in the bell department,” they said following their two-hour stint.

The students were greeted and treated to a continental breakfast while receiving their specially-designed T-shirts and name badges.

“When we changed our uniforms, we opted not to get a student-sized uniform, so we had specially-designed T-shirts made that the students can take home with them,” Hartman said.

The Camp Hyatt Career Day, celebrating its 17th year, Friday, has welcomed more than 300 students since the program started in 1992.

Camp Hyatt Career Day was created to give students a headstart in a growing and diverse field that currently provides more than 18 million jobs within the United States, Hartman said in a press release.

Every aspect of hotel operations is included in this unique experience: The students “work” in a variety of different resort positions including pastry chef, general manager, front desk clerk, concierge, housekeeper, restaurant host, room service attendant, security guard, chef and front door attendant.

For some of the students, the experience ended with the pizza luncheon and wrap-up, while for others like Angelica, the experience continues as she’ll be among the thousands who will take to the streets this morning as part of the annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk.

“I’ll see you, then,” Hartman said.

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