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LIS students to learn about careers in ‘Opportunity Rocks!’

By Staff | Aug 27, 2009

LAHAINA — The eighth grade class at Lahaina Intermediate School (LIS) is going on a field trip on Thursday, Sept. 10, adding more than just reading, writing and arithmetic to their curricula.

This “Opportunity Rocks!”

With 50 volunteer chaperones, the 250 students, divided into five groups of 50 each, will travel to five premier West Side hotels for a firsthand experience of the bounty of opportunities available in their own backyard.

Host hotels include the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, Royal Lahaina Resort, The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas and The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.

“Opportunity Rocks!” is the brainchild of Diane Pure, the community representative volunteer serving on the Lahaina Intermediate School Community Council.

Pure has been working with fellow council member and sixth grade math teacher Jeremy Seamster for over a year organizing the event.

“What I did was I approached the hotels, the hospitality industry, to ask them to join in introducing to these students all the opportunities that are out there for them right here in West Maui; and, by doing so, once they visited and learned what positions were in these hotels, they would have more of a clear idea as to how they should prepare,” Pure explained.

“Whenever people experience new things they grow,” Seamster added. “Moving beyond the hotel pool to get an insider’s view of the industry will allow the students to broaden their understanding of what it would be like to work in, or even manage, these fantastic hotels. The opportunity will empower them to ‘set their nose to the grindstone’ and make the best of their years here at LIS and LHS (Lahainaluna High School). Hopefully it will be the impetus for goal-setting and direction in their lives.”

Marsha Nakamura, LIS principal, agreed: “Many of our students’ parents work in the hotels, yet, I don’t think they understand exactly what their parents’ jobs actually look like and how it fits in the ‘big picture.’ Students will learn why it is important to learn English, math, social studies and science in school.

“Hopefully, their question, ‘Why do we need to learn this?’ will be answered as they tour the hotels and see, first hand, what skills the employees are expected to have in order to work successfully in their jobs.”

At the Royal Lahaina, Stacy Casco, regional human resources director for Hawaiian Hotels & Resorts, detailed what the young teenagers will experience.

“Students (separated further into five groups of ten) will rotate through five departments – Front Office, Housekeeping, Sales, Food & Beverage and Engineering. A special luncheon will be served. Jansen Medeiros, director of operations, who is a LIS and Lahainaluna grad, and June Pagdilao, director of sales, another Lahainaluna grad, will be our lunchtime entertainers.”

Lori Sablas, LHS class of ’61, has been the director of Po‘okela at Kaanapali Beach Hotel since 1989.

“I believe this would be an excellent opportunity for our youngsters on the West Side to have a better hands-on experience of what it is like working in the visitor industry, as they will be talking to employees in their respective departments, in the front-of-the-house, as well as back-of-the-house,” Sablas said

The students will also learn, Sablas continued, “that working in a hotel is fun… that you have an opportunity to meet people from all over the world… that by working hard and keeping a steady job, you will have an opportunity to purchase your own home on Maui as many of us have.”

At The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, Pure is working with the director of Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment, Ashlee Carroll.

“Through presentations from different departments and hotel tours, we will offer insight into the limitless and unique job opportunities in the hotel industry. We will also educate the students about the job application process and the educational requirements necessary to get hired,” Carroll commented.

Carroll is very enthusiastic: “Opportunity presents itself the minute we have an idea of what it takes to become who we want to be in life. Through this event, we want to give each of the students that insight and understanding, and then is up to them to take that dream and run with it. That is when ‘Opportunity Rocks!’ ”

At the end of the day, the students will be given an assignment and the opportunity to write an essay describing the “Opportunity Rocks!” experience. First place winners and their immediate family will be guests of the hotel for dinner and an overnight stay.