Herald Intern Graduates From Windward Academy’s CTE Program

Ida Yoshinaga

On the night of Tuesday, April 28, our Hawai‘i Herald intern, high-school junior Jamie Hirano, graduated from the 2021 “Learn Through Internship and Interests” program of the Windward Academy for Career and Technical Education, run in collaboration with the College and Career Academy Design: Career Academies at James B. Castle High School (see castlehs.k12.hi.us/pathways-academies).

Hirano’s group of five Castle High students was Windward Academy for CTE’s first official LTI cohort to go through this pragmatic program. That evening, the former student interns shared the results of their diverse work experiences in short oral reports and slideshows over Google Meet, in a fun yet impressive graduation ceremony to which Herald editorial staff was invited.

This LTI program matches students who are curious about specific career pathways, with government, non-profit, medical, media/arts and other employers which offer such careers, allowing the young people to learn hands-on about job possibilities in that field while interning. The career pathways generally cleave to the orientation of four future-oriented academies which (together with the Freshman Academy) now make up the Käne‘ohe-based high school: the Academy of Innovation, the Academy of Art and Business, the Academy of Medical and Culinary and the Academy of Navigation.

According to Academy Director Regina Yoshimori, these learning internships do not have to fall within the student’s primary or even chosen field of interest; for example, a high-schooler who is otherwise set on career pathway towards business entrepreneurship might want to try out what it is like to work in a healthcare institution for a few months. This allows for young people to consider multiple and complex combinations of career possibilities, or to contrast the field they were considering going into with a secondary field of interest, according to Yoshimori.

However, in the case of windward-side-raised Jamie Hirano, the determined daughter of Linda and Clayton Hirano, the young writer was resolutely focused on becoming a reporter, a career pathway not normally covered by Castle’s many academy courses. Hirano spent her LTI, which ran from Feb. 1 through April 30 of this year, researching, interviewing, proofreading and writing for the Herald, both in-person and remotely.

In that short time, Hirano researched and composed our Bulletin Board calendar of events and also our Community Focus section. She quickly proved herself a smart reporter and capable, organized writer willing to perform the revision work to turn in polished, informative pieces. So she also took on a feature, last month’s 100th-anniversary-of-Nisshodo piece, an ambitious small-business profile that we normally would have assigned to a more experienced journalist (see our May 7, 2021, issue’s cover article). Long story short, she knocked her first ball out of the park! “It exceeded my expectations,” she admitted about her overall internship experience.

Jamie Hirano at the Hawaii Hochi, home of The Hawai‘i Herald, in Kalihi.

Describing her three months at the Herald before an audience of her four high-school peers, Yoshimori, the parents of other interns and her own parents, Hirano analyzed how researching the Go For Broke National Education Center’s documentary short, “Living the Nisei Dream,” for Community Focus, had helped her to realize “the sacrifices Japanese Americans made during World War II and how they paved way for [members of] generations such as myself in living our dream today.” She said she also enjoyed reporting for her feature on Nisshodo Candy Store, for which she got to meet in person Mr. Hirao, the third-generation owner-manager, during their interview.

In terms of challenges and lessons, Hirano took the opportunity to re-evaluate her communication and other skills, especially time management. “In journalism, if you miss a deadline, it affects a whole team of people … Making sure I had to get things in on a timely basis was very important, because if I didn’t turn things in, there would be that blank space,” she admitted, noting that she realized that submitting work late would affect the editors, proofreaders, even the layout artist.

The larger takeaway for Hirano, who hopes to get into a college with a strong journalism program on the mainland for her bachelor’s degree, is that “Looking into future, the business pathway and writing industry are closely linked. When considering majors and minors I wish to pursue in college, it feels more open – it can be journalism or writing AND/OR a minor in business, marketing and communications. There is a business aspect to things; we all want to advertise to the general public. And also that public interest side, too,” is Hirano’s sophisticated analyses of her desired field of journalism.

Other Castle interns included Ayzha Saggers (who worked at Kailua Dance Academy); Azure Kaina (at the State Attorney General’s Office); and Brynn Akamine and Marisa Morrison (both at Hawai‘i Pediatrics).

At the end of the one-hour online get-together, Yoshimori thanked the LTI program mentors, the Hawai‘i Workforce Pipeline and the Windward District Office for Career and Technical Education who had funded LTI so that students could enjoy being paid for their internships. “They [Windward District CTE] added that icing on the cake of having a grant that we could pay them [student interns] with,” praised Yoshimori.

Finally, Yoshimori recognized her school principal, Dr. Bernadette Tyrell, who Yoshimori acknowledged for having the vision to transform Castle from a regular high school into an “academy” one.

“All kids should have this kind of work opportunity,” responded Tyrell, noting that this LTI cohort indicated what she hopes will be the direction of the state’s CTE programs. “You’ve set the bar so high! I’m so impressed: girl power!” she stated of the five female interns. Tyrell added, “I am so confident that you guys will be on the right path to where you need to be and want to be.”

“This [internship] is open to all high schools — but Castle is the best,” joked Yoshimori.

Perhaps the biggest vote of confidence came from Linda Hirano, who had more than once dropped daughter Jamie off at our Hochi building’s roof parking lot in Kalihi, before her daughter had earned her driver’s permit. She revealed that this was not only a valuable internship, but Jamie’s first job ever. “It was an awesome opportunity for our children to work in a field of their choice,” the grateful mother expressed. “We appreciate the companies providing time to share these experiences. The bonus of getting paid was wonderful. ”


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