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Waiakea High School Seniors One Step Closer to Chosen Careers

Media Release:

While most Hawaii high school students enjoyed their recent Spring Break, a handful of Waiakea High School seniors completed internships at local businesses, part of a new Senior Project Program that helps students make career choices sooner.

Hollie and a BIVB press kit

Senior Hollie Lambert, who intends to major in Public Relations, landed an internship at Irondog Communications, a boutique PR agency in Mountain View whose clients include the Big Island Visitors Bureau, King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel and the Kau Coffee Festival.

Lambert’s duties involved writing press releases, making press kits, pitching editors on story ideas and learning how PR helps promote businesses and ideas to benefit the local community.

“It was interesting to work in the Irondog Communications office and experience first-hand how different every day is in the marketing world. I was told that I’m a strong writer, and I can see how good writing and communication skills make a big difference in this field,” Lambert said.

Beginning with the graduating class of 2010, students selecting to pursue a Hawaii Board of Education (BOE) Recognition Diploma must complete a senior project (one credit), meet course and credit requirements for graduation, and attain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or above. Currently, 33 percent of Hawaii public school students earn the BOE Recognition Diploma. More rigorous requirements will be put in place for the class of 2013, and the Department of Education plans to require all students to complete a senior project by 2018.

Hollie at Irondog Communications

While the program has been in existence for more than 20 years on the mainland, it is fairly new to Hawaii. Because the program is so new, basic requirements have been set in place by the state but specific implementation of the program is still left up to each individual school.

Waiakea High School is one of several public high schools across the State of Hawaii implementing the Senior Project Program, in part, to encourage students to make career choices sooner and become skilled, actively engaged, self-directed learners.

“Senior Project is really all about helping students clarify their choice of career and experiencing what that job really entails,” said Nanette Bishop, senior project coordinator at Waiakea High School. “This experience gives them a glimpse into work life and helps them make an informed choice about their future, because many careers turn out to be not at all what students expected.”

Waiakea High School is the only school in the state with more than 72 percent of its seniors voluntarily participating in the Senior Project Program. Currently, 186 seniors from Waiakea High School are interning at businesses in East Hawaii in such diverse fields such as medical, culinary, forestry, education, veterinary, and automotive industries. Others are pursuing independent projects such as photography portfolios, musical performances, and science fair projects.

Waiakea senior Joyce Dvorak plans to pursue a career in international relations, and was drawn to Gemini Observatories because its twin 8-meter optical/infrared telescopes were built and are operated by a partnership of seven countries. She completed an internship in the human resources department last summer.

“It actually turned out to be the highlight of my vacation. I feel like I learned a lot from my mentor, and I was excited to go in to work every day,” Dvorak said.

Waiakea students are currently creating culinary masterpieces in pastry shops, interning at Hilo Medical Center, and even cloning species of plants in science labs.

Senior Dustin Soriano is one of Waiakea High School’s most talented photographers, and was recently admitted to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. For his senior project, he chose to create a photographer’s portfolio and completed a series of professional shoots of aspiring models, local events, and nature.

“I feel better prepared and more confident for college as a result of senior project, and my photography portfolio is a tool that I can definitely use to help further my future career,” he said.

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