$10.7 Million for Searider Productions

By Jayna Omaye, “State building a complex for Waianae kids’ media program,” Star-Advertiser, 6/1/17.

In an effort to accommodate the growth of Waianae High School’s Searider Productions, the state Department of Education plans to expand the program’s facilities into a full-fledged complex.

The $10.7 million project will connect the digital media program’s existing two buildings and add a lobby, three classrooms, rest­rooms, an office and conference room, and a multi­ purpose courtyard for additional meeting and classroom space, the DOE announced Wednesday.

The 8,500-square-foot expansion is slated to break ground in March 2018 and be complete by August 2019. During construction, students will be relocated to another part of the nearly 1,790-student campus.

Planning and design money was released last year, and the $10.7 million was allocated this year by the state Legislature.

Candy Suiso, Searider Productions’ program director and co-founder.

Candy Suiso, Searider Productions’ program director and co-founder, said the expansion has been discussed for about five years and will help to increase enrollment, which has fluctuated between 250 and 300, for the past few years. Suiso said the program is currently at capacity and she hopes the expansion will allow about 100 more students to enroll.

Suiso said the expansion would also provide much-needed space to offer more courses, including additional creative media classes through the school’s early college program, a partnership with the University of Hawaii-­West Oahu and Leeward Community College.

“We want to be able to have a facility to grow with,” she said. “The whole idea is to keep up with the ever-changing technology. We need a facility to be able to catch up with whatever’s out there.”

Searider Productions, founded in 1993, started off as a video production program with 85 students and two teachers in two classrooms with no air conditioning.

With about 300 students, six full-time teachers and four support staff, the program now offers core classes in video production, photography, graphic design and other related fields. Students can choose a specific area of study from several disciplines.

Students have received national and statewide acclaim including from the national Student Television Network competition and the ‘Olelo Youth Xchange student video competition. Students also landed their first commercial client in 2002 and were recognized in 1999 as one of the most innovative digital media programs in the country by the Milken Family Foundation when Suiso received a National Educator Award.

“Searider Productions has really put Waianae on the map,” said state Sen. Maile Shimabukuro (D, Kalaeloa-­Waianae-Makaha). “They have done an amazing job in giving students hands-on learning experience that has translated to the workforce and has produced amazing products. It (expansion) definitely was a priority.”

Read the full article on the Star-Advertiser site.

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