Wearing grins plastered across their faces as they made their way to their seats, the Kapa‘a High School class of 2008 could barely contain themselves. Screams and shouts from the students punctuated the air as the opening notes to “Pomp and Circumstance” came through the loudspeakers.
This year’s commencement exercises were held for the second time at the New Town Park in Kapa‘a. Family and friends carried signs, balloons, and bags of lei to hand out after the ceremony to their loved ones.
For Roger DeCamp of Kapa‘a, graduation night is nothing new. Carrying a box of lei for his graduating daughter Tiare and her friends, DeCamp said this was his last kid to leave the nest.
“I’m a little sad, a little happy,” DeCamp said with a laugh.
Tiare’s grandmother, Jacquelyn Ramos said she has many more kids to see through graduation.
“I still have great-grandchildren in elementary school,” Ramos said. “I’ll be here when they graduate.”
Another grandmother said her grandson, Jackson Teves, was a “super grandson” as she strained to seek him out while he stood in line.
The grandmother explained that she had written her grandson a love letter that will be given to him, along with other letters written by family members at the post-grad party after the students graduate.
“It’s just a wonderful custom,” she said.
Kapa‘a High alumnus Mayor Bryan Baptiste was in attendance for the ceremony, along with Sen. Gary Hooser, Kaua‘i County Councilmembers Jay Furfaro, Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, Tim Bynum and JoAnn Yukimura. Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, keynote speaker for the evening, was also in attendance.
Speaking through tears, student body president Alicia Higa told her fellow students to never forget their past.
“The good times are just beginning,” Higa said. “Anything is possible. I wish you good health, success and happiness.”
Class president Hilary Fernandes also choked back tears while addressing her peers.
“To the graduating class of 2008, I think we can all agree it wasn’t easy with the changes we went through,” Fernandes said. “Overall, the changes we went through were the real lessons learned.”
Gilmore Youn, principal of Kapa‘a High, said the class of 2008 was an outstanding class that did well academically and athletically.
“They will leave our school having made a lasting positive impact,” Youn said. “I have nothing bad to say about this class.”