Waipahu High School today celebrated the opening of its Integrated Academy Learning Center — a first in the state, creating a dedicated facility with industry-grade equipment and learning spaces for students in the school’s career academy pathways.
The ceremony started with a student ʻoli, followed by remarks from Waipahu High School students and Hawaiʻi State Department of Education leadership, and a blessing. Guests toured the facility and sampled appetizers and desserts created by the school’s culinary pathway students.
“It’s wonderful to see the culmination of so many years of work together in a facility that supports student learning,” Superintendent Keith Hayashi said. “It’s an opportunity for us in the Department to lead change not only in Hawaiʻi but across the country as this is a very unique, one-of-a-kind facility… The value of the design is to integrate academy learning — helping to make learning very purposeful for students by bringing together college and career, industry, cutting-edge technology, and industry professionals.”
Waipahu High is a nationally recognized wall-to-wall academy high school, holding the highest level of national recognition for its six career academies. The facility aims to connect the school’s Academy of Natural Resources’ three pathways — food systems, natral resources business and natural resources management pathways — with the Academy of Professional and Public Services’ culinary pathway, establishing systems for both academies to promote sustainable farm-to-table practices.
The first and second floors of the $29 million, three-story building are dedicated to the Academy of Natural Resources for learning spaces designed for hydroponics, aquaponics, aquaculture and other agricultural technologies like vertical farming. The third floor is dedicated to the school’s culinary pathway, which includes the school’s Marauder Cafe, a student-operated restaurant.
"Today is a day to celebrate. It is a day about vision, inspiration and hope. It is about more than a building, it is about the transformation of a community through the power of public education,” Waipahu High School Principal Zachary Sheets said. “The Integrated Academy Learning Center demonstrates the importance of investing in the future of Hawai‘i by investing in the children and the students of Hawaiʻi. Our students are now provided with industry-level equipment and facilities in order to prepare them to be globally competitive and locally committed.”'
Waipahu High student Stephanie Arellano, who is in the Academy of Natural Resources and wants to be a farmer, added: “We’re extremely grateful to be able to learn, teach and make new fulfilling memories in our new building. Thank you to all the people that made this happen.”
The school broke ground on the project in Jan. 2021.