Voices of Kapi‘o past

When Kapi‘o announced its closure on facebook, we asked former Kapi‘o members to share their thoughts about this issue. The date next to their name represents when they were on the Kapi‘o staff. The last title they held is below it along with the date they submitted their reflections. Their pieces were not altered in any way by the current Kapi‘o staff.


By Paula Bender, 1992 to 1993
April 17, 2014
For my first 10 years of living in Hawaii, I was in the U.S. Air Force, worked for Kaiser Permanente as a computer operator, and became an editorial assistant at The Honolulu Advertiser. It was there that I was encouraged to pursue my love of journalism. In 1991 I got my feet wet at Kapiolani Community College where I worked on Kapio and learned so much from our advisor Wini Au.

It wasn’t just newspaper mechanics that Winnie taught. She took my rough drafts and taught me how to polish my work. She taught us how to write in inverted pyramid style, to quote sources accurately, and to cite references with precision. She expected us to go out on stories, meet with newsmakers, and write our articles within deadline.

But, I, too, was a rough draft. I was slow to trust others, had my share of insecurities, and had a thin skin when it came to edits. She told me my stories were wonderful, and she showed me through her edits how to make them more enjoyable. Wini’s bent and pained fingers grasped the Apple mouse as she edited my precious thoughts and words, rearranging them into a more sensible and entertaining flow. She taught me that edits are professional, not personal. I have worked with many editors since Wini, and a few of them could have learned from her gentle example.

You can shut down a little community college newsroom to make budget, but you will never quiet the urge to find out what is happening and to share that news. A college newsroom is that anchor from where students can break a story, investigate questionable activities, and expose the good and bad on campus. It is where they will get professional guidance and insight. Who will tell these stories now?


By Treena Shapiro, 1993 to 1994
Co-Editor, April 18, 2014
I’m a second-generation journalist, but when I was younger the last thing I wanted to do was follow in my father’s footsteps. That changed at KCC when my English professor Shel Hershinow discovered I was a birthday hostess at Chuck E. Cheese. Appalled at what he saw as a waste of talent, he insisted I give KCC’s student newspaper a try.

As one of Kapio’s editors, under the guidance of Winnie Au, I learned to write news and features, to edit and to do layout—back in the days when wax machines and pica poles were still relevant.

But the biggest difference Kapio made was in my self-confidence. Winnie taught me that I had a right to know public information, and so did our readership. I went from a student who was reluctant to raise her hand in class to interviewing our administators and faculty. I even got to cover speeches by Ray Bradbury and George McGovern while still at KCC.

I’ve been working in journalism for 15 years now and I’m still shy sometimes — and occassionally starstruck. But thanks to Kapio, and Shel and Winnie, I’ve learned that my father’s profession wasn’t something to rebel against, but rather that revealing truths is something to embrace.

Kapio will always hold a special place in my heart and it will be missed.


By Catherine Toth, 2008 to 2012    
Last Full-Time Adviser, April 22, 2014
When I heard the news about the student publications program at Kapiolani Community College going in a new direction — meaning, it wouldn’t be solely student-run anymore — I was shocked. When I was there a few years ago as faculty advisor — the last full-time advisor and journalism instructor at KCC — we had a robust program with more than a dozen students on staff, working on a daily newspaper, an interactive website, social media, a yearly magazine and several journals. It seemed, at the time, this was a growing program with opportunities in everything from writing to graphic design to video production.

I have long felt student publications at KCC wasn’t just about producing journals or a newspaper.

It was about giving students the opportunity to gain work experience and create friendships that will go well beyond their time at KCC.

I have had the privilege of working with some of the best and brightest students I’ve ever met in my 10 years of teaching at the college level. I was always impressed by their commitment to the program, their loyalty to each other, and their drive to reach their own professional goals, many of which were outside the realm of journalism. It was some of the best years of my professional career, working with these students, and I’m disappointed and sad to see this chapter close.

Moving forward, though, I hope the college continues to value student work and writing and offer opportunities for them to grow as writers, designers, photographers and citizens of the world with this new change.


By Joie Nishimoto, 2009 to 2013
Editor-in-Chief, April 16, 2014
I firmly believe that a student newspaper is important for any college campus to have, so I am saddened to hear that Kapi‘o News is dissolving and heading into a direction that does not require students to act as watchdogs for the KapCC campus.

Without Kapi‘o, I wouldn’t have gained the skills or confidence needed to effectively prepare me for the journalism program at UH Manoa and life after graduation. I also met a lot of wonderful people through Kapi‘o, and I won’t forget all the late nights spent with our little family putting a newspaper together, whether it was weekly or monthly.

Thank you to everyone who supported Kapi‘o, the advisers and mentors we’ve had in the past five years: Catherine Toth, Kim Baxter, Bart Asato, Keith Kashiwada, Valentino Valdez, Mitchell Dwyer.


By Remington Taum, 2009 to 2013
editor-in-chief, April 21, 2014
The Kapi‘o News has served the Kapi‘olani Community College Campus as a voice for students. But its been more than a voice, it’s been a welcoming environment and a home that has brought students, faculty and staff together.

We, the staffers, created a little family. This job has not only provided a flexible work schedule, a way for starving students to make money, and make friends, but presented the opportunity get to know just about everyone on campus.

Working at the Kapi‘o has taught us to build and maintain relationships, be confident and engage fellow students on campus to speak up, submit stories and to investigate on and off-campus news.
I am sad to see the Kapi’o go. The Kapi‘o was such a great outlet for students to express themselves. I can’t say that enough. It was a privilege to end my college years as the editor in chief in Fall 2013.

Hopefully the Kapi‘o will live on as more than just a memory or an “era.”

Farewell Kapi‘o News! Mahalo for your glorious life and workforce lessons.


By Trevor LaTorre-Couch, 2010 to 2011
Copy Editor, April 3, 2014
After hearing that the Kapio would no longer be in print, I wanted to reflect on the learning experiences I had as a KCC student while on staff and to share my opinion on the closing of the newspaper.

I was the copy editor from spring 2010 to spring 2011–three semesters. Professor Kim Baxter took a chance hiring me: I had dropped out of Pearl City High School at 9th grade, and save for the Fall semester of 2009, I had little experience. However, she believed in my writing capabilities. And under her direction, I learned basic composition, AP style, and most importantly close attention to syntax and detail. Professor Baxter groomed me to be a copy editor and writer. Now, while copy editors do write, their most important role on news staffs is to edit content for syntax, grammar, style, and accuracy. These were all things that coming to Kapio I had no idea how to do. On the mauka side of Lama Library, she would sit next to me and we would go line by line of every article every week. I learned to pick up on minute discrepancies in a writer’s voice, in the dates and places of feature articles, in words misspelled sometimes by a single letter. Most of the time, I found mistakes come print day and I was embarrassed (I would be surprised if, later on, I did not find at least a split infinitive in this piece). But the embarrassment encouraged me to learn from my mistakes, to improve, and to have greater trust in my abilities. It was this process that I took with me to Stonehill College in Easton, MA as an English major.

Kim and the Kapio staff provided me the tools to complete my undergraduate degree, finishing with a Moreau Honors Scholar designation. I found the time spent at the Kapio to be far more beneficial in tangible learning outcomes than John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” or James Joyce’s “Dubliners.” While the texts I studied grew my vocabulary and helped shape my voice, while they taught me Deconstruction and Post-Modernism, the quality of my work relied on the ability to communicate complex ideas in concise, precise, and error-free prose–all the skills provided to me by Kim and the Kapio. So, what did I do with it outside of school?

I’m a writer for a software company in the heart of Silicon Valley, CA. I develop deep-dive guides and support materials for both developers and end-users. My career depends on my ability to effectively communicate software processes and capabilities through writing. So in a sense, I never really left the Kapio. I’m still doing what I was doing in the spring of 2010. In my personal time, I write short stories. I have submitted work to the Stanford University Wallace Stegner Fellowship, Tin House Magazine, and the Western Humanities Review, as well as other highly competitive literary journals.

As the KCC Administration finalizes its decision, if it has not already, I would like it to consider that I did not graduate from KCC with an Associate’s Degree. Short of the skills I learned at the Kapio and in class, there is nothing I hang above my nightstand that reflects my time there. It is disappointing that Chancellor Leon Richards would replace a student-run learning environment with an academic journal, showcasing only polished submissions. Can’t a compromise be found? For example, a dedicated section within the Kapio that features students’ work. Every writer knows that the end product—the piece the reader has access to—is only a small portion of writing. It is the world-building and the cutting away, or as has been credited to countless authors, “to kill your darlings,” that make up the bulk of what writing is. And without a weekly publication chock-full of errors to provide the staff necessary embarrassment and encouragement, it would not surprise me if the overall quality and vigor of KCC’s student news and general writing slowly slipped to the sinistral end of the bell curve.

I hope that students find other avenues to make the writing mistakes I did, to learn to identify and correct these, and to feel at the end of it that they have gotten something out of their writing. That’s really all that matters.

Aloha, Kapio. You will be missed.


By Lyle Amine, 2011 to 2012
Staff Photographer, April 22, 2014
My name is Lyle Amine I am a former Kapiolani Community College student, Vice chair of student congress, and former Kapio Photographer. I would like to express my deep concern that The Kapio is shutting down and only will be used to promote special things or to showcase students’ work. It is a nice idea but for using students fees to publish certain things and not letting the students express their voice and ideas for stories and to showcase the photos that represent our wonderful campus. As a former Student Congress Vice Chair I know that student engagement and participation are not great. But once you start taking opportunities away from the students you start to hurt student engagement.

When I was working at The Kapio it was a wonderful experience. It lead me to have the opportunity to intern with several magazine publications and media groups here in Hawaii.


Timeline of events:

Tuesday,  March 4 : Meeting with Dennis Kawaharada. The staff was informed that the Kapi‘o will be replaced by features of outstanding students. This content would come from students in classes. All content would ultimately be curated by faculty and staff.

Thursday, April 3: Kapi‘o announced its closure on facebook.

Monday, April 14: Meeting with Kawaharada. A new plan was established stating that Kapi‘o would be temporarily shut down until Kawaharada found students from Journalism classes, that were going to be established in the fall 2014 semester, who he deemed proficient enough to be an editor for the Kapio. Content would still be determined by faculty and staff members.

Thursday, April 29: Meeting with Chancellor Leon Richards and Vice Chancellor Mona Lee to discuss Kapio’s situation. Kawaharada was absent. The meeting ends with two conclusive statements on the table: Kapio will always be a student-run newspaper, and volunteers for a new Board of Student Publications are needed.

Thursday, May 1: Hawaii Public Radio reporter Molly Solomon publishes an audio interview that includes statements from Chayne Toyama and Mona Lee, as well as Gerald Kato, journalism professor at UH, Catherine Toth, former Kapi‘o advisor, and Robert Lopez, LA Times. Lopez’s statements came from an earlier interview.

Interview by Molly Solomon:

Interview with Robert Lopez: