WAIMEA — Sherwin Sagucio said his son, Sherwin Jr., did not play sports so there were no stories written about him.
“He no play sports, so no more any stories of him,” the elder Sagucio said Friday night. “But he graduated tonight. I was hoping he would go to college, but he said he like work in culinary like me. Maybe I can train him if he comes to work with me.”
Sherwin Jr. was one of the 124 students at Waimea High School who celebrated commencement Friday night before a sprawling audience of several hundred people under the lights of the school’s front lawn.
“He go,” Sherwin Jr. said, his head buried in piles of congratulatory lei. “It was challenging. It wasn’t easy. But I overcame.”
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), delivering the keynote address for the sea of celebrating people, including many alumni, said “Real life starts now.”
“It seems like I graduated only yesterday,” Schatz said. “But I graduated 25 years ago, and it’s been a wild ride ever since. Every ride is different, and I can only suggest six pieces of advice including the fact you are the luckiest people on the planet for being from Waimea.”
Shatz continued with his list, which also included advice like “Kindness is the most important thing,” “Don’t listen to negative people,” “Be relentlessly positive,” “Always say ‘Thank you,’” and “Live to purpose.”
Those pieces of advice did not fall on deaf ears. Graduate Mckenna Pascua, sharing a congratulatory moment with Sera Shimomura, said she is planning on enrolling in culinary arts at Kauai Community College.
“But I’m participating in the 2015 Miss Kauai Filipina pageant first,” Pascua said. “We have our judges interview Sunday.”
Henry Delos Reyes, a standout from the recent track and field season, is also firm on his road.
“I’m heading to Colorado to study physical therapy,” Delos Reyes said.
Mahina Anguay, the Waimea principal, described the class as extraordinary. Anguay cited outstanding student accomplishments such as Kayla Ishida being appointed to the United States Coast Guard Academy, and the fact that Ishida and two other Waimea students received Grove Farm Foundation Scholarships, the first time in the scholarship’s history that all three recipients came from one school.
Melia Takakusagi, joining Ishida as a Grove Farm Scholar, was one of two Waimea students, including Harley Broyles, who were awarded the Regents Scholarship to the University of Hawaii-Hilo, Anguay said.
“When the UH-Hilo representative announced the awards at the Senior Luau, he said there were only 12 of these awards made in the state,” said Anguay, whose grandmother was also a principal at Waimea High School. “These Regent Scholarships are open to all seniors, and to be awarded one is outstanding. To be awarded two is extraordinary.”
The students were also congratulated by Hawaii Sen. Ron Kouchi, a Class of 1975 alumni; Rep. Dee Morikawa; and Board of Education representative Nancy Budd.
Valedictorians included Emily Evans; Class President Lauryn Fleming, also a Grove Farm Scholar; Jeishabel Galano; Cristina McLaughlin; and Jaeda Rohner; as well as Ishida and Takakusagi.
Anguay challenged the graduates to “sail farther and harder in their canoes, and while on the journey, to remember their roots — come home and help build a strong, sustainable Westside community.”