Emotions ran high for the Advanced Media Productions class at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School during last school year’s Student Network Television Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. The annual event is where middle and high school students studying media, film and communications gather from around the country to produce projects with on-the-spot topics and intense deadlines that are judged by professionals in the industry.
“I stress out a lot,” says Taylor Nishimoto, one of the students who attended the convention in March. “I stress out about the tiniest things possible, and if something isn’t going right, I get really upset.”
She and her classmates Napua Canales (both eighth-graders) and Kallen Wachi (currently a freshman at Waimea High School) definitely were stressed when they hit a rough spot during one of the competitions at the four-day convention. In two short hours, they had to condense information about the Civil War into an abbreviated 45-60 second broadcast clip, with Nishimoto and Canales serving as anchors and Wachi running the camera. They had difficulties from the get go —everything from writing the script to not conducting their takes properly.
With the clock ticking down and the deadline fast approaching, Nishimoto broke down in tears. But it was a supportive group hug that put everything back into perspective — and the team ended up winning first place in the category.
“Even at the lowest point, we still came together,” says Canales.
“When we were ready to quit; we just hugged, encouraged each other and, from there, we just went up.”
What makes the occasion even more special is that it was all captured on camera by PBS Hawaii’s student news network, HIKI NO. Crew from the network journeyed with the kids to Georgia and filmed many candid moments like this. The camaraderie among all participating Hawaii students, especially from CKMS, is a theme that stands out throughout the video.
Kevin Matsunaga, CKMS technology coordinator and teacher, couldn’t be more proud of his students, especially after watching the documentary.
“It really shows how well their team worked,” he says. “This year they really supported each other and trusted each other, and I think that’s why they did well.”
Besides winning the Middle School Anchor Team category, CKMS digital media students won first place for Middle School PSA (a public service announcement) and Crazy 8s Middle School Short Film (a short film created in only eight hours). Almost 3,000 students from around the nation attended the 2016 convention yet Hawaii, overall, took home 34 awards.
Participating in the STN Convention is something Matsunaga spearheads each year. His Advanced Media Productions class, which generates CKTV Media Productions, has traveled to the event since 2004 (with the exception of 2005). The first year he only a took a handful of kids but says the experience was eye-opening. “We went there and it was the most amazing thing,” he says. “It was so cool to see kids doing all the things that our kids are doing. It was like kindred spirits.”
Now, most (if not all) of his 23 advanced-media students, grades 6-8, venture to one of the coasts to participate in the convention annually. This year, students will gather in Anaheim, California. What makes the trip so unique is that all funding is generated through donors as well as parental contributions.
Still, none of it would happen without Matsunaga’s continued dedication. He wants to provide his students with the best opportunities and guidance in the realm of digital media as possible, including a trip to media mecca New York City, after last year’s convention. He also aims to provide the latest technology in the CKTV Media Productions’ lab, located in the middle school’s library.
The Kauai High School grad landed his job in 2000, when CKMS opened, and has been heading the digital media program ever since. Prior to his current position, he also worked at Lehua Elementary School, where he initiated several technologically advanced media projects as well, including a monthly show called Lehua Leopard News. Nonetheless, he was excited to have the chance to return home to Kauai where he was born and raised. “I always wanted to come back and when the opportunity came up, I took it,” he says.
Among the various activities he initiates with his digital media students at CKTV Media Productions are the school’s daily morning announcements and Inside Scoop, which airs on FM97. Aside from having quarterly video projects, the students also regularly provide stories to HIKI NO. “The class covers a lot of ground and they learn a lot of life skills,” says Matsunaga.
One of the best skills they acquire, besides learning to meet deadlines and working under pressure, is evidenced in the documentary.
“They’ve got to work with other people, so they’ve got to get along,” says Matsunaga, who already is prepping his students for the upcoming convention in March.
He’s especially proud of Canales and Nishimoto for being exemplary models of teamwork. “Those girls are amazing,” he says.
Nishimoto’s positivity keeps other students going. “She’ll come in every day and give you a high-five no matter what,” says Matsunaga.
And Canales always is aware of other people’s feelings. “She’s very considerate of other people, and they’re both always willing to help out,” says Matsunaga.
To watch CKMS student s excel at last year’s convention, or to learn more about CKTV Media Productions, visit cktv-mediaproductions.com.