Island’s seniors don mortarboards

Governor presides over 260 Kaua‘i High School graduates

by Michael Levine – The Garden Island

The Kaua‘i High School Class of 2008, featuring more than 260 students, was addressed by keynote speaker Gov. Linda Lingle at yesterday’s highly-anticipated graduation ceremony at Lihu‘e’s Vidinha Stadium.

Hoardes of family and friends both inside the stadium and out, due to a limited number of tickets, weathered a brief period of rain to hear valedictory speeches from eight top students and see KHS’ 94th graduating class receive its diplomas.

Lingle said that when she spoke to some graduates before the ceremony, she “could feel the mix of pride, happiness, hope, anticipation, a little bit of sadness on leaving the school, and maybe a little fear about the future; the same things each of us felt at our high school graduations.”

The governor went on to discuss the increasing importance of technology in the world and the challenge facing students “to stay ahead of the curve for innovation while staying true to your roots.”

Lingle closed her remarks with advice for the students as they leave the “cocoon” of living under the watchful eyes of their families.

“Here’s how I judge whether I should take a certain action or not. Think of this: If what you’re about to do was going to be on the front page of tomorrow’s The Garden Island, and your parents were going to go out in the morning and get that newspaper, and your grandparents were going to get it, would you be embarassed for them to read what you had just done? Or would you be proud?”

Student body president Tyson Chihara, one of eight co-valedictorians, had earlier warmed up the crowd with his trademark campaign slogan, “We are like Skittles, each a little different but great together.”

Nicole Gaetjens, Nalani Haviland, Michael Julian, Randall Machado, Elizabeth Schiller, Mary Tausend and Marisa Valenciano also achieved 4.0 grade point averages and earned the right to address their classmates.

Haviland spoke about the hardships she had to endure as a child with Type I diabetes. Football star Julian relived his experience playing at Aloha Stadium. Other speeches were what Lingle described as “irreverant,” occasionally criticizing school administration and policies.

Graduating students were awarded $2.5 million in collegiate scholarships and will attend universities as far away as Montana, Oregon, California and Arizona.

About a half-hour before the ceremony began, Lingle arrived in a white SUV and emerged to adolescent female shreiks not unlike what a pop singer might hear. She sat on the stage throughout the proceedings, occasionally whispering to veteran principal Linda Smith.

“It is an accomplishment,” said a man who asked to only be identified as graduate Sage Silverman’s uncle Richard. “Do you remember when you graduated? Wasn’t it a blast?”

When asked what he planned on telling his nephew, Richard replied, “Look to the future and do whatever you want to do.”

Monica Mira, proud aunt of graduate Kyle Mira, imparted some advice of her own:

“Go show the world what you’re made of.”

• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached via e-mail at


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