HIKI NO piques interest of additional North Hawaii schools: Six sign up to produce future TV segments

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WAIMEA — The next Francis Ford Coppola may be among the elementary, middle or high school students currently producing segments for PBS Hawaii’s HIKI NO show.

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WAIMEA — The next Francis Ford Coppola may be among the elementary, middle or high school students currently producing segments for PBS Hawaii’s HIKI NO show.

Or they may want to be a surgeon one day.

“Most of them don’t want to go into broadcast journalism but they can use what they learn in whatever area they go into,” said Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawaii’s president and CEO, during a presentation Wednesday for teachers and students in Waimea.

“One student told me he wanted to be a neurosurgeon. I asked what his interest was in HIKI NO and he said, ‘I intend to make some neurological discoveries and I’m gonna have to present them.’ The show is a way of telling stories. In this day and age, we need responsible, creative, fair stories about things that matter.”

Now starting its seventh consecutive year, all segments on the show are produced by students. Since HIKI NO began in 2011, the number of schools participating has grown from 35 to more than 90.

Hawaii Preparatory Academy upper school was one of the founding schools, led until this year by Ari Bernstein, their digital media instructor. Fourteen other Big Island schools in West and East Hawaii are also active in the program presently.

“HIKI NO helps students develop real-world skills — communications, collaboration, creativity, regeneration, problem-solving and active listening. It’s an incredible education initiative,” HIKI NO’s Executive Producer Robert Pennybacker said at the meeting. “It’s not just the story, but the experience they learn while doing the story. I’ve been doing television for over 35 years and I think this is the best show on television.”

More than 60 students and teachers from schools throughout North Hawaii attended last week’s presentation at HPA’s Gates Performing Arts Center.

“HIKI NO is a showcase for education. Our media professionals provide special training for teachers free through generous funders,” Wilcox said. “The stories in HIKI NO are then conceived, written, shot and produced by the students under the guidance of their teachers.”

At the end of the presentation, representatives from Honokaa High and Intermediate School, Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School, Waimea Elementary School, Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School, Kohala Elementary School and HPA Lower and Middle Schools signed up to join the program.

“We’re so excited about having more students to share stories from Waimea, Honokaa, Kohala and Waikoloa,” Phyllis Kanekuni said, who helped organize the event for HIKI NO.

PBS Hawaii is the state’s largest media network. The half-hour HIKI NO show airs Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. weekly throughout the state for 13-week seasons. It is the first and only weekly student news show with a statewide network of schools.

Participating schools receive yearlong curriculum for broadcast media from PBS Hawaii that teachers can integrate into their classes. HIKI NO staff provide advice in equipment, training, teaching, mentoring and tech support.

The students’ work can be rewarding.

“Hawaii is a phenomenon in student journalism,” Wilcox said. “At the annual student television news competition this year, HIKI NO schools walked away with 20 percent of the national awards in digital media out of 3,000 students.”

HIKI NO offers free training, workshops at various levels and clinics for teachers on the different Hawaiian Islands with funding from grants. To start in the program, schools need basic equipment, such as a computer, camera, tripod and wireless mic, also available through grants.

“We have a step-by-step process. Any of you can do it. All it takes is a commitment of time from the teachers and students,” said HIKI NO’s Managing Editor Sue Yim. “Teachers have told us about the transformation they’ve seen in the classroom — the skills students learn, the confidence they learn and how many of them feel they can take anything on when they go on to college or the workplace.”

HIKI NO hopes to offer a workshop in Waimea in the future, Yim said. An annual teachers’ conference is also held at Oahu’s PBS station.

HIKI NO staff also offer support to each school throughout the year.

“They provide teaching seminars and lots of resources,” Bernstein said. “You get your own producer. It’s huge.”

For elementary school students, 30-second “how to” segments are a good way for them to begin learning the art of news production.

“Five of our broadcast students came with us to the presentation today,” Scott Tamura said, Waimea Elementary School’s principal. “We signed up for HIKI NO just now. Our students already do an afternoon school news show and know the technology side of it. Now they can turn this into storytelling, getting one of those Waimea stories, maybe a paniolo story. This is the next step.”

The WES students will most likely produce a segment later this school year, he added.

WES fourth-grader Cyrus Ian Guillermo enjoyed learning about editing in the presentation.

“I want to shoot the video on the camera and edit it,” he said.

Taylor Reese Hess, another WES student, added, “I’m starting to think about what kind of segments we could do.”

Kohala Elementary also signed up with HIKI NO for their students.

“Since I became principal at Kohala Elementary School I’ve wanted to have a student-run digital media program,” said Danny Garcia. “Now I have a teacher interested and thanks to 21st Century program we’ve done two digital media classes where we have kids shoot video, learn the basics with camera editing on iMovie and take a tripod around. We have our own Kohala Coast broadcast where we run closed circuit programs for the school Mondays and Wednesdays. HIKI NO reached out to me and now the time is right.”

He continued, “I want to be an assistant teacher with this. I took video editing in high school in 1988. I’ve always loved the video format editing myself. It’s still a hobby for me. Digital media is what engages children right now. I want our KES students to make PSAs to share with our community.”

Middle school students can produce longer segments.

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“With the STEAM building opening up, this adds a whole new component,” Principal Amy Kendziorski from Waimea Middle School said. “What perfect timing to showcase what we’re doing different and new in the future.”

Other interested schools and homeschool teachers can contact Sue Yim at syim@pbshawaii.org.

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