Friday, May 27, 2022 |
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LIHU‘E — Marilyn Silva was not at Tuesday evening’s commencement exercises, but her words were.
Fred Rose, principal of the Kaua‘i Community School for Adults, said Silva was in a hospital bed battling for her life with cancer as 33 participants of the 90 graduates of the Life-Long Learning Commencement Exercises were receiving their high school diploma at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall.
“She passed her final exams and credits just a little after we had our graduation last year, and we thought she could make it to this year’s exercises,” Rose said. “But she sent her thoughts.”
Silva, 62, lost her job of 20 years.
“At first I was upset,” Rose read the words from the recent graduate. “But as time went by, I felt better because losing my long-time job pushed me to go back to school.”
Silva said she was happy she took that important step.
“Look at me, here, graduating from the Kaua‘i Community School for Adults,” her words blanketed the convention hall filled with family, friends, and supporters. “I am lucky to have great friends who believe in me and care about what happens to me. Most of all, the greatest mom in the world who is proud of her girl, that I took this most important step in my life — this step to get my high school diploma.”
Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., delivering the keynote speech, said he’s been to many graduations, but none had the significance of this one.
“You stepped up to the plate because you wanted to, not because you had to,” Carvalho said. “You had the motivation to succeed, and you did.”
Carvalho said each of the graduates took the lesser-traveled road, but demonstrated creativity, courage and the ability to think outside the box by doing things differently.
“By graduating today, you have made a pioneering step in forward thinking,” he said, closing his address with lyrics from “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” “Ask yourself, what will I do today that will matter tomorrow.”
Arendji Takata, a student speaker, said she always wanted to graduate with her class, but could not.
“When my class graduated, I cried,” she said. “My mom ran a small shop and my dad worked. When I was a freshman, my dad pulled me out of school to run the shop after my mom broke her neck. I always knew I had to graduate to get a good job.”
Kaua‘i Area Complex Superintendant William Arakaki said the graduates reflect a wide range of ages and cultures, but each graduate had to overcome challenges leading to Tuesday night’s graduation.
“Each graduate has a story of the journey of accomplishment,” Arakaki said. “To quote Henry Ford, when a person stops learning, he becomes old. When a person learns, he stays young. Tonight marks the start of Life-Long journey of Learning for each one of you.”
Nancy Budd, recently appointed to the State Board of Education, encouraged students to be curious and keep on learning, driven by their personal curiosity.
“Tonight opens doors and options you did not have yesterday,” Budd said. “Don’t let fear interfere with your life.”
Silva, who rebounded from the rut of not being able to advance, offered advice.
“I’ve found it’s never too late to start a new path in life,” she said. “I just finished my last class and I can’t wait to start down a new road in my life. To all you high school kids, I have three words to say to you — Stay in School!”
The staff of the Kaua‘i Community School for Adults includes Rose, Elyson Perry, Iris Mano‘i, Gordon Shibao, Claudia Dresser and instructors Eric Anderson, Andrea Bell, Ray Carvalho, Dennis Dresser, Bernie Enrique, Russ Josephson, Oriente Naka‘ahiki, Ray Paler and Edwin Sawyer.
Visit adulted.kauaipublicschools.us for more information, or call 274-3390.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.
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