WAIMEA — Joyce Evens, mistress of ceremonies for the Waimea High School Class of 2016, welcomed nearly 200 graduates to a new class Friday night at the school’s front lawn.
The announcement capped an evening of what Principal Mahina Anguay described as a “celebration of achievement” as the graduates received their high school diploma and honor awards before a sea of well-wishers that overflowed the campus onto the athletic field.
“Extraordinary” is the term used by Anguay who outlined the numerous accomplishments earned by the members of the Class of 2016. Waimea graduates earned five of the six Grove Farm scholarships presented over the past two years, and 22 students — the largest number in Waimea’s recent history — were accepted into the Waialeale scholarship which allows students an opportunity at higher education.
“Everyone who works at Waimea High School is a ship builder,” she said. “Tonight we launch our canoes. Come back home and help build a sustainable Westside community. One day, you will be the supporters.”
Dr. Randy Hirokawa of the University of Hawaii-Hilo was one such supporter, graduating Waimea High School 45 years ago as an “average, not-the-most-popular, not-the-best-looking, not-so-athletic” person.
“I have no bucket list,” Hirokawa said. “But if I did, coming back here to speak with you would be at the top of the list. When I graduated, I was pretty average. No one even dreamed that I would go on to earn a Ph.D., or become a professor at a university — let alone be here addressing you.”
Hirokawa said he is where he is because of the four lessons — have the right priorities; work hard; be humble; and be honest — he learned at Waimea High School.
“This is real,” said Athena Abadilla, the class president. “This leap year is indicative of the leap we are about to take. Through all the time we were students at Waimea High School, the one thing they never taught us was how to say goodbye.”