KAPPA — Tears of joy and sadness filled Kapaa New Town Park as Kapaa High School seniors graduated Friday night.
As the sun set, 227 students moved their tassels to the left side of their cap, signaling the end of their high school careers.
“These were the best, worst, craziest, weirdest, most stressful times of our lives,” said Bylyn Aiwhoi, senior class president. “It seems like yesterday that we were playing tether-ball in elementary school or that we were sitting in the cover court in middle school, hoping we’d get excused to class first. Before we knew it, we were entering the big dog’s house: high school.”
The Class of 2016 is a talented group, Aiwhoi added.
“We’ve got athletes, brainiacs, singers, dancers, actors, surfers and artists,” she said. “As we go on to the real world, use your talents to pursue all you want in your life. I know with this class, nothing is impossible. We are warriors, ready to conquer in the battlefield and ready to take on our future endeavours.”
This was the first year that three types of honors diplomas were awarded to students at KHS.
Those diplomas recognized students who excelled in career technical education; the Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, program; and the academic honors program.
During the ceremony, those students were recognized for their accomplishments in maintaining a 3.0 GPA in their respective programs. Eight students were recognized for enrolling in the Kauai Community College Jump Start program, which allows seniors to enroll in a full-time program in career and technical education.
Twenty valedictorians and salutatorians were honored, along with their parents, who gave their children a medal of recognition.
“I’m only 17, what do I know? My life experience is short, so I will not be giving words of advice in this speech,” said Braden Andrews, one of the valedictorians. “Instead, I will focus on the things I learned during my four years at Kapaa High School.”
During his speech, he spoke of life lessons — perseverance, problem solving and deadlines — his teachers taught him along the way.
“But most importantly I learned that the friends and connections you make along the way will get you through the tough times,” he said. “In the fall, many of us will leave this small rock we call home and venture far and wide into the unknown. But uncertainty is just another word for opportunity, and it’s what we do with those opportunities that will determine their success.”