The seniors dressed in their matching gowns wove in and out of the crowds of parents to find their friends to pose for their final pictures as students before the Kapa‘a High School graduation ceremony.
All the girls wore white and the boys wore green. There were 255 graduating seniors, while 243 took part in the graduation ceremony.
“I can’t find him, they all look the same,” said Steve Bauman as he scanned the horde of people for his son Adam.
Mayor Bryan Baptiste sauntered about looking for his daughter, Lauren. His appearance at the graduation was as a parent, not as the mayor.
“I got a daughter in this. She’s around here somewhere,” Baptiste said. “It’s a special day today. She’s celebrating her birthday and she’s graduating. It’s great to honor her and her work for the last four years. I’m very proud of her.”
Then, just before 6 p.m., as the parents filed into the high school gymnasium, the students lined up at the adjacent building to get ready for their procession.
Those who didn’t make it inside watched on a television provided outside the gym.
Before she went in, Michelle Toy — one of Kapa‘a High School’s 13 valedictorians to give a speech — said she wasn’t nervous.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Toy.
“Everyone was saying ‘give me a shout out.’ But we had to cut down our speeches to a minute because there were 13 of us,” said Michelle’s twin sister and fellow valedictorian Lillian Toy.
Senior class president Jaisa Faye Ganir said she spent a few hours the night before finalizing her speech.
“I just thought about the student activities we did,” said Ganir, who admitted to being nervous. “This (school) is all I’ve ever known.”
Then, promptly at 6:30 p.m., the announcement was made that the graduation ceremony was about to begin.
Everybody rose from their seats to watch the seniors march in two-by-two. The girls sat on one side and the boys on the other.
There was a slew of special guests, from state Rep. Ezra Kanoho, to Kaua‘i County Councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, to actor Cary Tagawa in attendance in support of the school’s graduating seniors.
First up to give a speech was a tearful student body president, Ashley Miguel.
There would be 16 speeches in all: The 13 valedictorians; the senior class president; the student body president; and the guest speaker, 1998 Kapa‘a High School graduate Olena Rubin from the TV show “Countdown Hawaii.”
“You folks ready?” Miguel asked as he fumbled with his papers. “This may take a while.”
Valedictorians Donica Abalos, Grayson Boyer, James Chung, Angela Halasey, Jason Orbe-Smith, Erin Pickett, Sarah Steed, Lillian and Michelle Toy, Anthony Tran, Bryan Wardlow, Kyle Wataya and Lauren Saiki got to briefly address the audience.
After the speeches came the awards, the performances of the graduation song, the school’s Alma Mater and, finally the presentation of the diplomas.
Cheerfully the graduates switched over their tassels.
At the end of the night, they ran to their friends and family in celebration of the end of the ceremony.
They were later whisked away in large buses to be taken to a secret location.
“After this graduation,” Ganir said, “I don’t know where we’re going.”
• Lanaly Cabalo, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or firstname.lastname@example.org.