Accolades News

Middle School Wins First Place at 'Olelo Youth Xchange

Paige Ho, Karuna Niitani, Eryn Uemori, Kennedy Kobayashi, Mia Lee and Cami Matsumoto were awarded top honors in the Junior Expert Category, widely considered to be the most prestigious (and the most difficult) category.

Posted on May 9, 2017 by Scot Allen

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Back row: Ericson Cristobal and Kevin Tokuda. Front Row: Karuna Niitani, Paige Ho, and Eryn Uemori.


Six Mid-Pacific eighth grade students took home top honors in the 14th Annual 'Olelo Youth Xchange Statewide Student Video Competition Thursday, April 27, at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.

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Paige Ho, Eryn Uemori, Karuna Niitani and Ericson Cristobal.


Paige Ho, Karuna Niitani, Eryn Uemori, Kennedy Kobayashi, Mia Lee and Cami Matsumoto were awarded top honors in the Junior Expert Category, widely considered to be the most prestigious (and the most difficult) category. They were awarded with a professional-grade Sony A7SII still and video camera and a 24-70mm zoom lens. Mr. Ericson Cristobal, assisted the students with the project and served as a Video Production Assistant.

"This category is judged by professionals in the field," said teacher Kevin Tokuda. "It is basically a category for the best of the best. This is awesome! This shows where we are as far as the capabilities at our school."

The winning video was entitled "Make a Wish Come True," and documents a five-year-old child's Make a Wish moment on campus last year. The heartwarming video was a recap of his adventures on campus battling an assortment of comic book villains (played by middle school students and some professional actors). "This really hit home for the students, as the boy lost his battle to cancer recently," Tokuda said. "The seventh graders worked so hard in so many different facets to make this boy's dreams come true before he passed away. That's pretty awesome to see all of their fine efforts be recognized."

Mid-Pacific also won in the "Taking Assessments Seriously" category, Sponsored by the DOE. Congratulations to Kate Nakamura, Bailey Russell, Syan Yamamoto, Rendi Takara-Haraki, Ariana Lee, and Eryn Uemori.

In all, Mid-Pacific Middle School students entered 18 videos in the contest, and were finalists in six categories. According to 'Olelo, there were 904 submissions from all over the state this year. The precise number of entries in each category was not revealed.

The 'Olelo Youth Xchange is the oldest program of its kind in the state, designed to give a voice to island kids, and recognize their talent and commitment. As the State's largest student video competition, Youth Xchange continues to grow. "Last year's record breaking 909 entries was quite an accomplishment, but even more impressive was the breadth and depth of the messaging behind each entry," an 'Olelo spokesperson said.

Please click here to watch their TV interview:

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The Taking Assessments Seriously category, Sponsored by the DOE. Back row: Kevin Tokuda, Syan Yamamoto, Bailey Russell, Ariana Lee. Front row: (L-R) Kate Nakamura, Rendi Takara-Haraki, Eryn Uemori


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Middle School Principal Dr. Dwayne Priester, together with Mid-Pacific middle schoolers Karuna Niitani, Eryn Uemori and Paige Ho, who were interviewed on Hawaii News Now Sunrise about the team's impressive Junior Expert category first place win in the 'Olelo Youth Xchange video competition.