The Dream: A $16 Million, 9-Classroom STEAM Building

Construction officially began Sept. 14, 2015 (Notice to Proceed) with installation of Best Management Practices (BMP) site prep, including side/back temporary gravel drive & staging area for big equipment (trucks, graders, cranes, etc.) to access the site south of the building to keep heavy equipment away from students and minimize noise. 

As of March 2017, work is progressing rapidly with much of the exterior nearing completion.  The approx. 24,000-square-foot, two-story building, expected to be completed in May-June 2017, is quite visible and there’s palpable excitement about it throughout our school-community.  

WMS faculty and staff are planning for its opening this fall for the 2017-18 school year.        

Questions:  Please call Amy Kendziorski, Waimea Middle School Principal (808) 464-9902. 

February 2017

Look who came for a quick sneak peek into our still-under-construction 9-classroom, $16 million STEAM building during the 24th Annual Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival! Governor David Ige (standing in front of the Mala'ai Garden sign with pink lei) and his wife in bright pink, Dawn Ige. Welcoming them for the visit -- including an opportunity to see first-hand how the new STEAM building will 
integrate with the school's open-air Mala'ai Garden "classroom", were, L-R: Ho'okako'o Board Member Paul Nakayama, WMS teacher Mrs. Linda LoBue, Keck's Rich Masuda, WMS' Mrs. Pat Rice, DOH Pubic Health Nurse Sandy Tomiyama, WMS LAP Community Rep Jane Sherwood, WMS Principal Amy Kendziorski, Sen. Lorraine Inouye, Rep. Cindy Evans and Ho'okako'o Board member Robert K. Masuda. Kneeling are L-R: Mrs. Gail Kamei, a STEM teacher at Waiakea Intermediate, Ms. Connie Hastert, Mala'ai Garden Leader Holly Sargeant Green, Miss Kamei and CFHT's Mary Beth Laychak. Gov. Ige was Senate Ways and Means Chair when funding was secured for this major new educational asset for Waimea and worked closely with both Sen. Inouye and Rep. Evans to fund the project. Part of the visit was sharing the school's expanded vision for the building which is to become a "hub of STEAM teaching and learning" for Waimea. 

Photo courtesy of Tina Benson

January 2017

Full STEAM Ahead!  

West Hawai'i Today/North Hawai'i News Feature - Friday, Jan. 27, 2017:

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                            We Have Broadened Our Vision For The New STEAM Building

To Become ‘A Hub of STEAM Teaching & Learning’

                                                                                                                                                                      September 2016

For years, Waimea Middle School, the Department of Education and the Hawai'i State Legislature have called our new classroom building a STEM building to focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math for college, career and community readiness. 

However, over the past few months, we have significantly shifted our thinking:  

First - All across the country, educators are adding an “A” into STEM for the “Arts” to recognize their importance in well rounded education.  But here in Hawai’i, the “A” takes on a deeper meaning – referring to ‘Aina-based, hands-on teaching and learning about our planet and universe, and our place in them.  Further, by adding the “A” we address both specific curriculum and also how we teach to make it most relevant for students. WMS has therefore shifted to calling it a STEAM building and this the focus of planning.

Second – WMS is now envisioning our STEAM building as serving much more than 250+ Waimea Middle School students.  Our goal is that it will become a hub for STEAM teaching and learning to include a professional development center led by a STEAM Project Coordinator to assist not just our students but regional educators with implementation of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core State Standards (CCSS). We will utilize community educational, cultural and technology expertise, coupled with effective STEAM instructional practices. 

It is our intention that this center would be available for students, educators and community members throughout the region and would include:

1)     A multi-use “makerspace,” a digital media lab, demonstration indoor and outdoor classrooms incorporating our                 Mala’ai school garden and other relevant ‘aina-based field studies, and classroom instructional presentation                         systems throughout the building which are essential for STEAM instruction.

2)     Extensive professional development and curriculum integration plus tech support for faculty and students to                        ensure seamless integration for instruction.

We believe this broader STEAM vision is essential because it would benefit all of our school-community, and because so much has been invested in this new facility by the State Legislature on behalf of the taxpayers of Hawai’i.  Also, STEAM programming requires extensive training (PD) as well as tech support.

We have much work to do to bring this vision to life.  We recognize that it may take three to five years to be fully up and running, and toward this end, we have already started reaching out to our community and various funding partners to ask assistance. We also are asking assistance from the Hawai’i State Legislature because the initial funding authorization cannot be used for most of the STEAM technology needed nor can it be used for professional development trainings and tech support to introduce and manage state-of-the-art STEAM technology. 

December 2016:

Above & Left: WMS admin and staff and Ho'okako'o Board members welcomed State Sen. Lorraine Inouye for a sneak-peak hard hat walk thru of the still-under-construction STEAM building.

November 2016:

Below: WMS teachers and staff take their first hard hat tour of the new building.

Construction - October 2016:

Kamehameha Schools' 'ohana tour site.

Construction - August 2016:

Starting the new school year with the planting of a young A'ali'i in Mala'ai garden.

"He 'a a'ali'i au, 'a 'ohe makani e hia ai":  "I am an 'a'ali'i shrub, no wind can push me over" - a traditional Hawaiian proverb from Ka'u.  

This native plant was selected for its strength and flexibility.  It can withstand and thrive under challenging conditions, constantly displaying beauty and resilience as it grows.  This spot in Mala'ai garden was selected because from here you see Mauna Kea, Hoku'ula, the new STEAM building and the school.  May this plant grow strong and bring strength for all those who care for it.  

Construction - July 2016:

February 2016:

Governor David Ige tours construction site.

Construction Day 116 (of 400) - January 14, 2016:

Up, up and away! The Isemoto crew and subs are making amazing progress with constructing our 9-classroom 

STEM building - now in its 116th day as of 1/14/16. They are ahead of schedule and making it seem so easy...

but look at how astoundingly complex it is! 

We also thank them for helping create a Long Jump for our Track & Field student athletes, and helping make 

our gravel entry drive safer - it had become very rutted! 

This project will benefit generations of Waimea children...mahalo to everyone involved and who made it possible.

Construction Day 94 (of 400) - December 14, 2016:

Isemoto Contracting coordinated with West Hawai'i Concrete a large concrete pour of the foundation. It was a big pour of 290 cubic feet of concrete involving 29 cement mixers between about 7 a.m. and noon. It went very smoothly -- great planning, expert construction crew "on the ground" preparing and handling the mix, and beautiful weather.  We're excited about this progress on our building! 

See the big gentleman on the extreme right in a long sleeved maroon shirt -- he is controlling the whole job with that tiny box suspended on a strap around his neck by gently adjusting two small knobs that control the flow of concrete and the entire hydrolic boom, which is fed wet mix from a stream of 29 cement trucks!  

Go to for more including videos! 
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Construction Day 50 (of 400) - November 2, 2015:

Photo taken from beneath the Kukui Tree in Mala'ai school garden (near the tent-classroom) west showing the excavation from Drywell #2 to Drywell #3. The 12" adjoining drain line piping will be placed in this the work continues!   

Photo courtesy of Holly Sargeant-Green with explanation courtesy of DAGS' Werner Zindric.

Construction Day 40 (of 400) - October 24, 2015:


Removed berms around westerly perimeter of our Mala’ai school garden and relocated several of the garden’s trees, most notably a large Kukui tree (pictures attached) – the construction crew were especially careful about relocating the Kukui tree after students helped prune it to prep it for relocation. 

Located point of connection (POC) to existing utilities (water, electrical, phone and fire).

Working on installing site drywells and adjoining drain lines. 

Have started building foundation layout. 

West Hawai'i Today News Coverage (see end of story):


Here are photos of the amazing work the construction crew from Isemoto Contracting did to relocate a prized Kukui Tree in our Mala'ai School Garden.  It had to be relocated because the school garden is very close to the new building, which will be great when it's pau to fully integrate science and technology lessons w/ hands-on place-based lessons in the garden.  (In fact, the building design includes an exterior trellised area with a mini-amphitheatre for students to gather for lessons.)  But during construction, the work area is very close to the 3/4-acre organic learning garden and we had agreed early on to relocate key trees.  Very TLC by the construction crew and a very cooperative relationship day to day, several of whom attended Waimea school!  

September 2015 Update:  Goundbreaking Held Sept. 9; Construction Begins Officially Sept. 14, 2015!

West Hawai'i Today News Feature On Groundbreaking:

August 2015 Update:  Please Join Us!

Our Entire Waimea Community Is Cordially Invited To Celebrate Groundbreaking

For Waimea Middle School’s 9-Classroom STEM Building!

Wed., Sept. 9, 2015 - 12:45-1:15 p.m.

Program To Include Protocol Chant By Waimea Middle School Students,

An Expression Of Deep Gratitude To Our Project Partners,

& Turning Of The Earth Led By Waimea Leaders Of Tomorrow


Please arrive early  - enter campus through the back gate and park on the field, then walk to the nearby project site next to our Mala’ai School Garden.  

Please wear comfortable shoes and bring weather protection.  No RSVP - please just come


Interim Principal Amy Kendziorski (808) 464-9902

Waimea Middle School: (808) 887-6090 Ext. 221


Firmly planting Waimea Middle School's long time dream of a 9-Classroom STEM Building are (L-R) 7th grader Emily Souza, DOE Facilities Project Coordinator Ron Hagino, Calvin Nishio and Susan Irvine, both AIAs w/ Architects Pacific, which not only designed the building but oversaw preparation of the Environmental Assessment, which included engineering, landscaping, archaeological studies, and much more; 8th grader Kawehi Bell-Kaopuiki, DAGS Project Inspector Werner Zindric, Project Contractor Leslie Isemoto w/ Isemoto Contracting, 8th grader Silas Sylva, Ho'okako'o Corp. Board Chair Joe Uno, 7th grader Marques Kahawaii, WMS LAP Chair Colin Miura, Kahu Billy Mitchell, Rep. Cindy Evans, WMS long time educator and grant writer Pat Rice, Ho'okako'o Corp. Development Director David Gibson, Sen. Lorraine Inouye, 6th grader Brody Duff, Ho'okako'o Board Member Dr. Ken Fischer, 6th grader Nya Schara, Rep. Clift Tsuji, WMS Community Liaison Patti Cook, The Neilan Foundation's Gail Gimbel, DOE's Hamakua-Kohala Complex ASA Carol Yurth, WMS Principal Amy Kendziorski, Hawaii Public Charter School Commission Executive Director Tom Hutton, WMS LAP Community Representatives Jane Sherwood and Keawe Vredenburg.  September 9, 2015.

Pre-Construction meeting Wed., Aug. 12 - the work has just begun!     

L-R: Mala'ai garden team leaders Amanda Rieux and Holly Sargeant-Green, DAGS Project Engineer Miles Tagawa, WMS Community Liaison Patti Cook, Isemoto Contracting's Dave Hariguchi, DOE Facilities Project Coordinator Ron Hagino, DAGS Project Inspector Werner Zindric, Architects Pacific AIA's Susan Irvine and Calvin Nishio (both sitting), WMS Interim Principal Amy Kendziorski, WMS Project Advisor Ken Melrose, DOE Hamakua-Kohala Complex ASA Carol Yurth and WMS Head Custodian Warren Tamaye. (And this doesn't include all the subs!)  

July 24, 2015 Update: 

The building permit application for the project was approved by the County and the building permit is ready for issuance.  The General Contractor was informed of this.

A "Notice to Proceed" to the General Contractor will need to be issued by the DOE Construction Management Section prior to proceeding with the designated work.

Ron Hagino, Architect & Project Coordinator

DOE, Project Management Section

May 2015 Update: 

The project has been awarded to Isemoto Contracting for its $11.8 million low bid.  

April 2015 Update:

Final Environmental Assessment - Finding Of No Significant Impact (FONSI)

March 2015 Update:

January 2015 Update:

Eight contractors submitted bids by Dec. 19 bid opening deadline.  DOE Facilities staff must review bids before awarding, but low bid was $11.8M.  This is good news because DOE will require that they set aside a 5% contingency, or about $600,000, for unexpected events, which brings the job up to $12.4.  WMS has $13.4M “in the pot” after DOE took out their management fees and additional contract work was funded re: (1) temporary access road to back (south side) of project site and adding a staging area as far removed from students/staff as possible; (2) 2nd electrical meter for campus, (3) requested PV on new building, and (4) rainwater catchment.  

This means we still have approx. $1M to cover items #2-3-4, which would be handled as “change orders” in that order.  

Michael Shigetani has been DOE’s lead facilities staff person on this project; he has now retired, so project has been handed over to Ronald Hagino, who has an excellent reputation.  

Anticipated start date: June 2015.  It’s a 400-day job. 

November 2014 Update:

DOE Facilities Staff Schedules STEM Building Pre-Bid Meeting Thurs., Nov. 6 - 10 a.m. - WMS Campus/W-Lounge;

Bid Opening Deferred to Friday, December 19, 2014  

To see project notice, go to:

Once on website, scan down to the 6th posting please.  Scroll to bottom of page to review project Draft Environmental Assessment (Completed July 2014).  

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June 2014 Update:

Mahalo To Our Governor & Legislators - Rep. Cindy Evans, Sen. Malama Solomon!  

$15M For New 9-Classroom Science-Tech Building! 

West Hawai'i Today News Feature - June 7, 2014:

To: WMS Students, Families, Faculty, Staff, Partners & Community Friends:

We have some astounding, great news to share.  The 2014 State Legislature has authorized an additional $9.89 million -- to be added to the $5 million they appropriated in 2013 to start construction of our long-dreamed of 9-classroom Science-Technology Building.  Yes, that's a total of almost $15 million!

We are deeply grateful to our legislators – Rep. Cindy Evans and Sen. Malama Solomon for their persistence and support!  We also thank the House and Senate money committees and Gov. Neil Abercrombie who has now released the entire sum - $14.89 million to get us rolling!   

This really should be viewed as both recognition of need and a pat on the back to each of our faculty and staff for their hard work and dedication, and also to their willingness to continue to raise the academic bar for our students as we prepare them for the 21st century world and workplace.

We ask everyone to convey your gratitude to our Legislators and share our excitement with family and friends@  

To send a mahalo note to our legislators, please use the following emails:

Senator Malama Solomon:

Representative Cindy Evans:

Governor Abercrombie visited WMS on April 29, 2014 -- the very same day the 2014 Legislature voted to finalized the biennium 
budget which includes nearly $15 million for our 9-Classroom Science-Technology Building!

The DOE/DAGS facilities planning team meets with WMS admin and staff and project architects, engineers and planners - 2014.

According to Environmental Assessment documents prepared in November 2011:

"The purpose of the new classroom building is to replace existing science classrooms with modern classrooms and laboratories and to provide spaces designed as computer laboratories. The spaces currently used for these classes are not adequate to meet the teaching needs of the current enrollment. Although identified as 8 classrooms, during the planning process, by downsizing some of the original planned spaces, a total of 9 classrooms are planned for the building. Preliminary plans show a 2-story "L"-shaped building to contain:

1) four general classrooms;

2) three science laboratories;

3) two computer laboratories;

4) two teacher planning rooms,

5) a faculty center, conference room and restroom facilities.

The building foot-print will be approximately 12,000 square feet. The 2-story building will contain about 24,000 square feet and would be approximately 36 feet high at the ridge. The design would be similar to the other buildings on campus. A walkway will connect the building to the remainder of the campus."

Sen. Malama Solomon and Rep. Cindy Evans attended a Waimea Community Association Town Meeting where WMS students presented their case for securing final full CIP funding for a 21st century STEM building - January 2014. 

WMS Principal Matt Horne shares the need for a 9-classroom science-technology building w/ U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.  February 2013.

House Finance Committee Chaired by Rep. Sylvia Luke visited WMS to learn about proposed STEM classroom building July 2013. 

House Finance Chair Rep. Sylvia Luke and staff talk with WMS 6th graders about the lack of adequate science and technology facilities for 21st century learning - July 2013. 

State Senate Ways & Means Committee Chaired by then Sen. David Ige visit WMS to discuss proposed STEM classroom building.  August 2013. 

WMS Students accompanied by then Principal Pat Rice, Teachers Tisha Gusman and Ellen Cordeiro and Community Liaison Patti Cook present petitions to Sen. Lorraine Inouye - 2007. 

WMS Students gather signatures on their petition asking the Legislature to fund a STEM Building for Waimea students - 2007. 

WMS Student Akahai Lazarus speaks from the heart to members of the State House Finance Committee Chaired then by Rep. Dwight Takamine during a site visit in 2005.  

WMS 8th graders Zen Kuriyama and Akahai Lazarus share the urgency of improved science-technology facilities for Waimea students during Legislative site visit in 2005.