Randy Ines Jr., called RJ by his peers, decided to redesign the art classroom at Castle as his senior project. He worked with community mentors including experts from Group 70, an architectural firm, and from the UH School of Architecture as well as Duane Preble, retired UH art professor. RJ studied many designs and learned about the impact of environment on behavior and learning. He surveyed his peers at Castle to determine what should go into the design of an engaging learning space for high school students.
Karen Kimura and Tiffany Yango-Au served as RJ’s faculty advisors for his capstone project. Karen said, “RJ’s personal growth and victories represented the kind of learning that happens when a student is set free to pursue his own quest for knowledge. His achievement exemplifies what happens when we get outside our four walls and our students work alongside the community.”
RJ is majoring in architecture at USC and hopes that his senior project design will someday be more than a sketch on paper.
Kiani Ballao, a recent graduate of Castle High School, has a younger brother who was diagnosed with autism. Her concern for her brother’s welfare fueled her desire to research this disorder for her senior project. She learned the Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) that targets broad areas of a child’s development, as opposed to improving specific behaviors. According to Autism Speaks, Inc., PRT focuses on “the development of communication, language and positive social behaviors and relief from disruptive self-stimulatory behaviors. The philosophy is that, by targeting these critical areas, PRT will produce broad improvements across other areas of sociability, communication, behavior and academic skill building.”
Applying PRT strategies, Kiana assisted her brother with daily tasks, such as eating and drinking to help him develop skills he needs throughout his life. After working with her brother for six months, she noticed marked improvement in his verbal communication skills. Her research and work with her brother has inspired Kiana to pursue a possible career in helping other children with similar disorders. She is continuing her education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa where she is pursuing studies in Psychology and Communication Science Disorders to further her learning.