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HIKI NŌ ON PBS HAWAIʻI: Class of 2023, Part 2

H.P. Baldwin High School graduates Santana Sebastian and Kailani Ibanez, both born and raised on the island of Maui, recall how their interest in video production unfolded.For Ibanez, it was an early passion that began in middle school. She has since produced numerous stories for HIKI NŌ on PBS Hawai‘i, among the most memorable a Personal Narrative about feeling uncertain about her future after high school, and another feature story report about the pressures high school students face entitled “Stress of Success.” For Sebastian, it wasn’t until he was stuck indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic that he rediscovered a video camera and dove into the world of cinematography, learning the ins and outs of the craft and starting his own YouTube channel. In fact, he tells the story in a HIKI NŌ Personal Narrative, a memorable piece in which he cast his younger brother to play himself. Since then, Sebastian has worked with PBS Hawai‘i as a Maui stringer by shooting footage for its other programs.
Both students are headed to Oregon this fall — Ibanez will attend Pacific University and Sebastian will begin a job at a production company. “I think my generation has a lot to say,” says Sebastian. “HIKI NŌ gives kids a platform to kind of speak their vision and speak what they feel.”
Adds Ibanez, “Having a program that draws from students from across the state – it’s really important for us to connect with each other in a different type of way by storytelling in our own communities.”

Roosevelt High School graduate Kiari Uchida’s first piece for HIKI NŌ was completed during the peak of the quarantine period of the COVID-19 pandemic when she was immersed in distance learning at her home on O‘ahu. She recounts feeling frustrated and exhausted by what felt like an onslaught of assignments and double her normal class load –  all expected by teachers to be completed remotely. When invited to contribute a Student Reflection to HIKI NŌ on PBS Hawai‘i, she quickly agreed to participate, eager to express how she felt through an on-camera outlet. Her HIKI NŌ Student Reflection about struggling to keep up with school work was one of the season’s most memorable. Uchida plans to get her estheticianʻs license and then later attend the University of Hawai‘i to study language. “I wanted to let others know, yeah, you’re not the only one who is going through this alone,” she says. “It’s very hard, but we’ll all make it eventually.”

The voices of Kapa‘a High School graduates Bodhi Moomaw and Moira Nagle of Kaua‘i can be heard throughout several of HIKI NŌ on PBS Hawai‘iʻs most recent seasons. Their stories included a heartwarming dispatch about a backyard treehouse project during the pandemic and others that explore efforts of local organizations including the Waipā Foundation. They each received several awards during HIKI NŌ on PBS Hawai‘i Challenge competitions. Both credited their experience with HIKI NŌ on PBS Hawai‘i as a helpful reference and work samples when applying to college programs in cinematic arts. Nagle, who is headed to the American University of Paris in France and Moomaw will attend Montana State University.  “I submitted my HIKI NŌ Challenge video about the Waipā Foundation to them and I think that’s partially why I got in and got a scholarship,” Moomaw says. “It’ll help my future career, for sure.”

By now, McKinley High School graduate Reece Lapas is a familiar face on PBS Hawai‘i, having hosted a HIKI NŌ on PBS Hawai‘i episode as well as PBS Hawai‘i Kākou program when he served as a guest moderator, facilitating a discussion about Hawai‘i’s “brain drain.”Lapas’ HIKI NŌ video “How to Wield Change through Individual Action” was one of the show’s most original to date, breaking down a step-by-step process to advocate for your community, and how to persist even if you hit inevitable delays and roadblocks. “Being able to do stuff like HIKI NŌ and Kākou, that really clicked with me,” Lapas says. “It intersects with all the things I’m interested in.” Lapas is headed to Princeton University this fall and is interested in pursuing political science studies. He says he hopes to return to the islands one day. “Having this connection to PBS Hawai‘i — this helps, knowing it’s a thing I’d like to do in the future,” he says.


HIKI NŌ 10|17|23: 1422