Students at Aliamanu Middle School give hands-on reboot to traditional career day

Students at Aliamanu Middle School give hands-on reboot to traditional career day
Students at Aliamanu Middle School participate in a student summit that was held Friday on campus. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - At the average career day at your average local school, students tends to fall into a pretty predictable rhythm.

Guest speakers from many different sectors across the community gather to share the intricacies of what they do and how they do it ― as well as the amount of work and time it takes to master the job.

But usually, by the end of the third of fourth session of the day, attention spans start to wane and young minds begin to wander.

It’s why the administration at Aliamanu Middle School wanted to create a career day that focused on doing instead of listening.

“One of the things we’re focused on is student voice, and we wanted a day where students truly had the voice of what the learning looks like,” said Al Hetrick, the principal at Aliamanu Middle School.

Hetrick says the school tried to model the event, which they called a student summit, after the professional development days that public school teachers receive during the year. At such events, teachers typically get to choose the sessions that they want to sit in on and learn from.

“Instead of us telling them, ‘Here’s your courses,’ and you pick, they ended up choosing what courses they took,” said Hetrick.

Like you would for a normal career day, the school reached out to professionals from across the community. But instead of lecturing, those who participated set up stations where students could learn by doing.

In the library, students interested in virtual reality where given head-sets to explore what the creation process for VR games was like. On the other side of campus, students learned about rigging canoes. And at a classroom someplace in the middle, a pair of kumu hula taught more than two dozen students a traditional dance.

The summit, Hetrick said, was about choices. And students at the intermediate school level believe there’s no better time to explore.

“Middle school is a time where students are trying to discover who they really are and try and explore what they want to do when they get older, or their interests and hobbies they want to take upon,” said Mikayla Mula, a student at the school who participated in the summit on Friday. “So it really helped those students explore and figure out what they want to do.”

The event was such a success that administrators said they were already planning on holding a second-annual student summit during the next school year.

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