In a nondescript workshop at the edge of Farrington High School's campus stands a testament to the collective talent and determination of the Kalihi school's Engineering Academy students, who for the past year have been plugging away at a special project for the World Surf League (WSL).
The international organization, which runs most of the world's premier professional surf competitions, tapped the expertise of Farrington students to design and build a mobile merchandise trailer for WSL to use at local events. The trailer will essentially be a storefront on wheels that can be transported to surf meets and parked on the beach to sell T-shirts, stickers and other merchandise.
The partnership got started with a simple email from Farrington Vice Principal Ron Oyama to WSL executive Jodi Wilmott.
Building upon research and work done last year, students in the school's Design Technology, Metal Technology, and Building and Construction classes spent this school year transforming their designs and model-sized prototypes into a life-size, 20-foot trailer.
The students divvied up the work among teams to focus on areas including structural soundness, aesthetics and ensuring the trailer is "street legal."
"It’s more than just a school project — this is our baby, pretty much,” senior Kyle Pizarro said.
“It started as sketches to mini models to now this big structure. Looking at it now, it’s impressive,” he said, motioning to the towering structure with a big smile on his face.
The students said the opportunity to work on a real-world project for an international company was intimidating at first, but ultimately motivated them to do their best and take pride in their work. Students added that the WSL project has been more fulfilling than the types of projects students typically make in building classes, such as toolboxes and dust pans.
“Those kinds of things are good to know how to make, too, but having a partnership with a real company, it makes you realize how important it is not just to build something, but also to have the engineering and business experience,” senior Mary Buccat said.
Jeremy Seitz, lead teacher for Farrington’s Engineering Academy, said the dedication of his students has been inspiring as he’s watched this project come to life.
“It’s been motivating as a teacher. It’s what got me to work every day, seeing them do what they’ve done and helping them see what they’re truly capable of, and seeing them happy and excited to come to school,” Seitz said.
Seitz’s students credit his teaching style for their success, saying he challenges students by giving them the independence to experiment and problem solve.
“I make it clear that I will guide them and provide the resources and I will make sure that when they fall, I’ll pick them up. But they are responsible for the work,” Seitz said.
“They’re amazing, intellectual, confident kids, " he said. "My approach is not to prevent them from failing but to help them understand that failure is a part of life.”
Students say the WSL project will not only look impressive on their resumes, but serve as a source of tremendous pride for their school and community.
“This project is a really big step forward,” senior Jarius Chase Peralta said. “It puts all of us — all Farrington High School Engineering Academy students — a step ahead compared to our peers. Everyone’s going to know about it.”
“This is our legacy,” added senior Kimberly Delos Santos. “No other school can say they did something like this. And WSL chose us.”
Farrington plans to unveil the project in May before the trailer is turned over to WSL.
Update: On May 16, 2019, students unveiled their merchandise trailer during a school assembly. See highlights from the celebration in the video below.