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WMS Readies For New STEM Building

September 2, 2015, 11:18 AM HST
* Updated September 2, 1:47 PM
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Waimea Middle School will break ground for new 21st century science engineering and mathematics technology (STEM) labs and classrooms.

WMS Principal Amy Kendziorski says the new building will be the largest major investment made by the State of Hawai’i for public education in Waimea in over 25 years. The new building will be placed between the Mala’ai school garden and several of the school’s portables, with the location planned to provide the ability to intertwine the school garden for hands-on, place-based lessons.

Once completed, the facility will include four general classrooms, three science labs, two computer labs, a teacher’s planning room, an office, a student services room, a conference room, and restrooms. An outdoor mini-amphitheater, along with 20 paved parking stalls and pavement on the back entry drive are also expected to be added.

“It’s an inspiring example for our students of their community coming together to do what’s best for them,” Kendziorski said.

“We especially thank our legislators who really went to bat for our children, beginning with Sen. Lorraine Inouye and Rep. Cindy Evans, who secured the first $1 million in 2007 for planning, design and engineering,” Kendziorski said.  “And then more recently, we thank former State Sen. Malama Solomon and Rep. Evans who, together, secured nearly $15 million more for construction and furnishings.”

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Kendziorski says many don’t quite understand the large achievement the new building will be, noting that every penny in the state’s construction budget is fought hard for. “It takes collective action by the community and elected officials to build relationships to secure funding for large projects.”

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The relationships have been long interwoven. In 2004, WMS faculty, staff, and students, along with families and community friends, began to work on the goal. In 2007, the group took students to the legislature to testify and collected thousands of signatures in support of the building.

“We also owe a warm mahalo to both former Gov. Neil Abercrombie and current Gov. David Ige, both of whom have actively supported this project – Gov. Ige included $15 million in the budget when he was Senate Ways and Means Chair, and Gov. Abercrombie immediately released the funding to keep the project moving.”

Kendziorski also extends gratitude to the DOE and DAGS for their support and belief that children in Waimea needed and deserved state-of-the-art learning facilities.

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“We invite the entire community to come celebrate the start of construction of our 9-classroom STEM building,” said Kendziorski.

Isemoto Contracting Co., Ltd. of Hilo will conduct the construction, and has been issued a Notice to Proceed effective Monday, Sept. 14.

The school will host a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 9 from 12:45 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. Kendziorski says the ceremony time will be used to convey deep gratitude to the community members who worked towards making the $16 million project a reality.

Students from sixth through eighth grade, faculty, and staff will begin the ceremony with a chant. A few moments of gratitude will take place for the public conversion charter school’s partners and will conclude with a turning of the earth led by two students from each grade level.

To learn more about the project, including information regarding the Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact, visit the project’s website.

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