Matson honors high school seniors

NAWILIWILI — There is just a little more than 30 days remaining before public high school seniors take their graduation walk, said Neil Pigao, Project Grad coordinator for Waimea High School.

“Project Grad is the biggest night of their life together,” Pigao said. “When the day ends, all the classmates no longer will have the relationship they’ve got now. In the future, they will only be acquaintances.”

Pigao, along with coordinators from Kapaa High School, Leona Sa McDermott, and Kauai High School, Anita Applegate, were on hand Wednesday afternoon at the Matson offices in Nawiliwili to accept grants of $750 each for their respective Project Grad programs.

“I remember my Project Grad,” said Kerri Anne Kanahele, an alumnus of Waimea High School. “That was the first year we had a live band.”

Patrick Ono, Matson district island manager, said Matson honors Kauai’s teachers, counselors and volunteers because the work they all do helps guide and inspire the island’s youth each day.

“Graduation is a life moment,” Ono said. “In preparation for their next step toward their goals and dreams, on behalf of the Matson Foundation and all of the employees here in our Nawiliwili offices, we would like to present Kapaa, Kauai, and Waimea high schools each with a check for $750 — to help make this a safe and enjoyable evening they will never forget.”

Applegate said Kauai High School, in its fundraising efforts for the final night seniors have together in a safe, drug- and alcohol-free atmosphere, always sets aside scholarship funds so graduating seniors who want to attend but do not have the financial means to afford the night, are able to do so.

“We want as many kids to be able to enjoy their big night,” Applegate said. “That is why we set up the scholarship program.”

Ono said after hearing this, it is motivation for Matson to stay active in the community.

“The seniors are ready to grow,” he said. “We need to stay active because they’ll need things to come back to.”

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