KAPAA — Graduating seniors from the Kapaa High School Class of 2015 whooped and hollered as they walked down the aisle on Friday night.
It was time to celebrate.
“It seems like such a long time ago that we set off rockets into the blazing sun,” said Bryson Baligad, student body president and valedictorian, reflecting back on a past school project.
The imagery of rockets going into the sun was one of many metaphors about life transitions into adulthood made by the graduates. Spirits were high and there was plenty of laughter and humor mixed into student speeches. Several students finished their speeches proudly, in honor of their school mascot: “Once a Warrior always a Warrior!”
Hazel-Lyn Jarquio, class president and valedictorian, was teary-eyed as she spoke at the Brian J. Baptiste Sports Complex.
“Where did the time go? I remember the last days of eighth grade,” she said. “Before we knew it, we were entering high school, and the seniors seemed so intimidating.”
She smiled as she said, “Now I understand what it’s like.”
Valedictorian John “Colby” Sargent, 18 of Haena, thanked his teachers, family, friends, and proudly put in a word for his community: “I’d like to start by saying: North Shore!” he said.
School counselor Robyn Kiawe said early college preparation helped the graduating class of 232 succeed.
The class was the first group of sophomores to participate in Kapaa High School’s new “smaller learning community” program, which focused on teaching students to decide what degrees they want to pursue in college, and the best means for attaining those goals.
“We’ve noticed a big difference in their attitudes, and their focus,” Kiawe said.
Kapaa High School Principal Daniel Hamada said 137 students, 73 percent of the graduates, have already been accepted to two- or four-year colleges.