Community in the spotlight at Waimea carnival

WAIMEA — Earlier this month, a group of Waimea High School students under the direction of Maj. Victor Aguilar competed on O‘ahu.

The remainder of the JROTC group members remained back home to help with the county’s welcome-home celebration for the returning Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers who deployed to Iraq.

“We only entered two competitions,” Aguilar explained. But, that was all it took, as the drill team finished in first place at the West Point Drill Meet, and also earned third place in the unarmed marching phase.

Drill-team members under the leadership of Lambert Guirao performed for the audience during the opening of the annual Waimea Alumni and Friends Foundation carnival over the weekend.

Drill team members include Jesse Choi, Mark Guirao, Lemuel Medina, Bronson Koki, and Kael Nakata.

Kathryn Rowland, the school’s Parent Community Networking Center facilitator, was especially proud that opening the festivities involved an all-girl color guard from the JROTC.

The cadets involved in that exercise included Chaelyn Briones, Mershelle Rivera, Georgette Dela Cruz, Joanna Tumbaga and Joanna Andres.

Lisa Hiraoka, who is one of the committee members who organized the annual Westside celebration, said the event is a community event that is successful because of all the support it gains from the people.

Available for people to enjoy were a wide range of food, baked goods and other assorted items, including plants at the country store, and an evening full of entertainment.

“Because we’re a foundation, we go out and beg people,” Hiraoka explained, noting that entertainers donated their services.

Spread out among the various offerings in the food booth, alumni from the various graduating classes took their turns manning the different stations.

“We have various classes here,” volunteered one of the malasada crew members. “There’s people from the Class of ‘75, ‘80, and ‘81. And, there’s even a Kaua‘i High School graduate.”

Red Raider Dean Agustin was helping out in the booth with wife Candace Agustin, a Menehune graduate.

But, graduates from other schools were found throughout the celebration, as Holly Acoba noted, “We gotta support. It’s for the kids.”

Suzette Momohara was in line for the Hawaiian plate lunch being offered up by those from the Waimea High School athletic department, noting that her Friday-night plans had to be scuttled because of the long delays in traffic.

Rhoda Libre served as the mistress of ceremonies, working her magic with members of the Waimea Canyon School band under the direction of Beth Cuizon, who said the group members came to perform as a way of giving back to the community.

Cuizon is also a graduate of Waimea High School, and relished the opportunity to come back to her alma mater before leaving to further her education later in the year.

K.J. Morikawa was the brunt of Libre’s joking, as he was the sole male in the Waimea Canyon School Chorus that took the stage for a trio of numbers following the band’s performance.

Members who turned out included Rose Palma, Bronte Acosta, Jerika Bocalbos, Maybelline Planas, Hayden Igne, Cassandra Owen, Elisa Broyles, Robbyn Delos Reyes, Krystal Locquiao, and Morikawa.

In addition to the food, fellowship, and entertainment, Joyce Evens, the head of the media class at Waimea High School, was rushing off with equipment to tape the Mr. Menehune contest. “It’s for MTV,” she quipped, noting the similarities in acronym for Menehune Television.

Naoko Ho was waiting her cue for the karaoke contest, noting, “This is not as big as the Waimea Town Celebration, but it’s real community.”

Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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