WAIPAHU— Waikele Elementary School held its 6th annual Career & College Fair at its campus Wednesday morning. Students from preschool to sixth grade visited with dozens of local professionals in various career fields in the engineering, law enforcement, hospitality industries and more.
Deputy Superintendent Tammi Oyadamori-Chun, Pearl City-Waipahu Complex Area Superintendent Richard Fajardo, Campbell-Kapolei Complex Area Superintendent Sean Tajima, state Senate Education Chairwoman Michelle Kidani, Sen. Henry Aquino, Rep. Cory Chun and Rep. Rachele Lamasao were in attendance along with Waipahu High, Waipahu Intermediate and other area principals.
“Most people may think a college and career fair is designed specifically for secondary or high school. We believe that in our school and at our complex, it’s all about exposure,” said Waikele Elementary Principal Sheldon Oshio. “When they get to Waipahu Intermediate, they’ll have the exploration opportunities there and when they get to Waipahu High School they experience opportunity.”
In November, Waikele Elementary School will launch a 12-week Academy Pathways program that will allow its students to choose a career exploration path that aligns with one of Waipahu High School’s six academies: Health and Sciences, Arts and Communications, Natural Resources, Industrial and Engineering Technology, Professional and Public Services and ‘Ohana of Excellence.
“Allowing students to explore and see other options also provides students a chance to be accountable for their education and take charge of their future. It also gives students a chance to ask the professionals questions such as what skills and levels of education are needed for the job,” said Waikele Elementary fourth grade teacher Chi Fung Lanai.
Sixth grader Michelle Arellano said the experience helped spark an interest in a possible future career in the arts and communications field. “I really like to draw. It was really inspiring to hear him say what we need,” she said of artist Jesse "DAK1NE" Velasquez who was one of the career fair professionals.
Waikele Elementary is the first elementary school in the state to fully implement an Academy Pathway program integrating career and technical education into its school design. The program’s mission is to support the Waipahu Complex pipeline by providing all students relevant and rigorous learning experiences that will ignite passion and discovery of their career aspirations and ensure students are college, career and citizenship ready.