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This academic school year twenty-five of Keaau High School's Automotive and Construction students and their instructors worked hard to restore an early space shuttle replica.  Read about some of them and their experiences below. 


Jun Pagala, 
Automotive Technology Instructor, 
Restoration Project Lead

Mr. Pagala is born in the Philippines and raised in Hawaii. He is a graduate of Pahoa High School, Hawaii Community College, University of Hawaii at Hilo, and California State University at Long Beach. It is at Pahoa High School that as a student, Mr. Pagala first found his passion for automotive study. Mr. Pagala started the automotive program in Keaau High School in 2001. He lives in Keaau and has one daughter, who is a 2012 KHS graduate, and one son who is a current student.

Russel Rapoza
Construction Technology Instructor
Shuttle Archive Lead

Mr. Rapoza is born and raised in Hawaii. He graduated from Hilo High School, Hawaii Community College,University Of Hawai'i at Hilo, and Purdue University.  Mr. Rapoza started working on cars and building things in his family business while in high school.  Mr. Rapoza has been teaching at Keaau High School since 2002. His favorite part about the project was, working with other programs. Through this project Mr. Rapoza learned just how far technology has evolved in the last 30 years.

Christina Ulep-Samonte 
Automotive Student

Christina is a senior at Keaau High School. Because Christina's family builds and races cars she decided to do some hands on learning in Keaau High School's automotive program. After high school Christina plans on attending Cal-Poly Ponoma in California and will major in animal health science. 

Christina's favorite part about the project was helping to document the restoration project by taking pictures. She also enjoyed helping the project come together. She explains that the most difficult part of the project was digitizing the newspaper clippings that accompanied the shuttle one by one. Through this project Christina learned that one of the Challengers crew members was from Kona. She also learned more about the history of the shuttle.

Daylin Perreira 
Automotive & Construction Student

Daylin is a senior at Keaau High School. He became interested in the automotive and construction field as a very young boy because he had been raised around it. After high school Daylin plans to join an operator's engineering or fire science program. 

Daylin's favorite part about this project was welding and painting. The most difficult part about the project was taking the replica apart. There were ALOT of pieces. Through this project Daylin learned  more about the challenger space shuttle and how to better work in a team.

Kumalani Kekipi 
Automotive & Construction Student

Kuma is a senior at Keaau High School. He explains that his experience in automotive and construction work is extensive as his "life revolves around it" and he "loves it".  After graduation Kuma plans to enter the air force and become a aircraft engineer. 

Kuma's favorite part about this project was welding and fabricating parts to make the space replica mobile. He explains that the most difficult part about this project was in the beginning when they couldn't get the things they needed. He was relieved after their project got lots of support from businesses. Because of their financial support, Kuma and his team mates were able to complete this project. Through this project Kuma learned that communication and cooperation among a team is key and that quality work is important. He also he learned how important the Challenger is to people around the world. 

Mahele Crivello
Automotive Student

Mahele is a senior at Keaau High School. Having been born and raised around  cars and motorcycles made Mahele very interested in the automotive field. After high school Mahele plans to attending the Universal Technical Institute in Arizona. 

Mahele's favorite part about the project was welding and painting. The most difficult thing about the project was taking it apart and figuring out what to do with it. From this project Mahele learned team work, time management, and more information about the Challenger.

Narizza Saladino
Industrial Engineering and Technology Student

Narriza is a Junior at Keaau High School. After graduating Narriza plans to attend a four year college where she will major in Aerospace Engineering. Narriza explains that she first became interested in aerospace at seven years of age after watching a PBS kids show called Maya and Miguel. In an episode titled "Career Day",  Narriza learned what an aerospace engineer was when one student's mother came to school to share about her job.

Narriza's part in this project was digitizing the original documents that accompanied the space replica.  Her favorite part about this project was looking through all the official documents and learning so much about different space missions. Because most of the information was from a time before she was born it was really cool to read. Narriza explains that the most difficult part about this project was when the copy machine broke down. It set their digitizing process back by a day. Through this project Narriza learned patience and that space missions require a huge team effort.

Click here to read how this project helped to solidify Narizza's decision to pursue an education in engineering.

Branden Pagala
Industrial Engineering and Technology Student

Branden is freshman at Keaau High School. His interest in the automotive field comes from home as his father is Keaau High School's automotive instructor, Jun Pagala. After high school Branden plans to go to college to become an athletic trainer. 

Branden's part in this project was also digitizing original documents that accompanied the space replica. His favorite part of this job was looking at all of the documents.The most difficult part he explains, was dealing with so many papers and the copy machines. Through this project Branden learned much about the digitizing process and about the space ship challenger. 

Both Branden and Narizza were Keaau High School's official Emcees for Kaho'omakahou's unveiling event.