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HIKI NŌ ON PBS HAWAIʻI: Class of 2023, Part 1

Kaua‘i High School graduates Ty Kajihara and Kate Nakamura, long-time storytelling collaborators who have worked together since they were in middle school, sat down in the PBS Hawai‘i studio on O‘ahu to discuss their reporting journey. They recounted what it was like to report on stories important to their community, covering a variety of topics such as families affected by sudden loss and land management challenges at Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, among others. Kajihara and Nakamura were among the first class of freshmen from Kaua‘i High School to travel to the national Student Television Network competition in Washington, D.C, according to HIKI NŌ teacher Leah Aiwohi, when the trip was suddenly cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. Kajihara and Nakamura share how they reckoned with the sudden shift to their learning environment and how they managed to continue telling stories remotely. Both Kajihara and Nakamura have also been involved with PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs, expanding the reach of their reporting on Kaua‘i to a broader national audience.

“I think a lot of people view news and journalism as really dated, and something old people watch and only old people care about, but it’s the telling and spreading awareness of different issues and bringing different voices to light,” said Nakamura. “That’s still going to be a need. So it’s seeing that we as young people enjoy doing this and have a passion for it and we want to share it with the world, I think that’s what’s most important to me.”

Nakamura will attend The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University this fall. Kajihara will attend language school in Japan and plans to continue at a university there to study pre-medicine.

Maui High School graduate Jazmyne Viloria recalls how she began to create video stories at Maui Waena Intermediate School under the guidance of her HIKI NŌ teacher Jennifer Suzuki and continued to work with HIKI NŌ in high school with HIKI NŌ teacher Clint Gima. She covered topics from plastic pollution to adoption and profiled a boxer as well as a food truck owner feeding people during the government shut down. Viloria says participating in HIKI NŌ Challenges gave her the opportunity to conduct community reporting and have inspired her to continue to work with local businesses by majoring in marketing and cinematic arts at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

“I chose Manoa because I wanted to directly help my community,” she says. “I think when everyone hears Hawai‘i they think of the tourist aspect of palm trees, beaches, hotels and resorts. I wanted to shine a light on those local stories, the cultural local businesses, those projects that arenʻt really seen within the global perspective.”

Konawaena High School graduate Ash Miller from Hawai‘i island shares his experience writing and producing a Student Reflection about his gender identity journey for HIKI NŌ on PBS Hawai‘i. Miller also co-hosted an episode of HIKI NŌ on PBS Hawai‘i.

“It is nerve wracking to come out as queer in any shape or form. HIKI NŌ does give a platform to students to speak their truth,” says Miller.

“I’ve been privileged to see Ash grow and evolve, so when I read Ashʻs story, I thought wow, this is really good,” adds Michelle Obregon, HIKI NŌ teacher at Konawaena High School. “Even though it was a challenging topic, it was one of the easiest stories to tell because Ash knew exactly what Ash wanted to say.”

Miller will attend Hawaii Community College at Pālamanui this fall and study creative writing.

Hilo High School graduate King James Mangoba was a freshman blogging on Youtube when he heard about his schoolʻs media program. He joined HIKI NŌ on a whim and never looked back. One of his most memorable first stories was about the English Language Learner department at Hilo High, which was close to his heart as a former ELL student from the Philippines. Mangoba and his classmates went on to place in several HIKI NŌ Challenge competitions throughout his high school career.

“The most important takeaway that I’ve had from working with HIKI NŌ is storytelling, and the importance of it, and the significance that it holds to people,” said Mangoba, who will study communications at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa this fall.

This episode is the first of two special segments. The HIKI NŌ ON PBS HAWAI‘I: Class of 2023, Part 2 episode will air on Oct. 17, 2023.