Students from Baldwin High School will present an intimate perspective of Hawaii Commercial and Sugar’s impending shutdown in Pu`unene with poignant portraits of two long-time HC&S employees on a HIKI NO episode that is available to view online at PBSHawaii.org/hikino.
The Baldwin students conceived the episode when hearing that by year’s end, Hawaii’s last remaining sugar mill, Hawaii Commercial & Sugar (HC&S), will close in Pu`unene, Maui, leaving 675 employees without jobs. The students chose to tell the story through the eyes of machinist Wes Bissen and millwright Koa Martin, who are both continuing their families’ legacy of working at HC&S. Martin’s father and grandfather worked at HC&S, and Bissen’s father was also a machinist for the company.
The two reflect on their careers and their families’ histories with the company. They also discuss the state funds being allotted to help the laid off workers through the transition.
“It’s sad that they’re going to close, but we’re all big boys,” Bissen says in Baldwin High’s story. “We’ve got to focus on how it’s going to affect everybody and just try to build a better life from here on.”
The episode will also feature two other stories created for broadcast by Maui students; Students from Kamehameha Schools Maui Middle School introduce the viewers to a surfer-turned-chef who runs the popular Like Poke food truck on Maui; and Students from Maui Waena Intermediate School in Kahului show the PBS audience how a married couple is living out its golden years at a Maui senior day care center.
HIKI NO is Hawaii’s first statewide student news network, made up of 90 public, private and charter schools from across the islands. Through the production of video news stories about their schools and communities, students gain valuable workforce and life skills, while teachers engage their students in hands-on, collaborative learning.
Photo: Joanna Orpia/Wikimedia Commons