Fueling Project Grad

NAWILIWILI — Kauai High School Kaori Kaya juggled between the pages of her notebook and stints on the sidewalk, waving “Thank You” signs in front of the Lihue McDonald’s Wednesday night.

“The tests go on,” Kaya said while working with Taylor Ragsac in comparing notes in preparation for a test. “Graduation is getting closer, so there’re no breaks from the tests.”

Kaya and Ragsac are among the 250 seniors from Kauai High School expected to participate in the school’s Project Grad following commencement exercises in May.

They join an anticipated 130 seniors from Waimea High School and more than 200 seniors from Kapaa High School in an all-night alcohol-, smoke-, and drug-free celebration with entertainment and fellowship among their graduating peers.

The McNight fundraising celebration is one of the ways each school earns funds to enable their respective programs to continue.

Earlier in the afternoon, Matson Navigation added to that fundraising effort by contributing $750 to each school’s Project Grad program.

“We are once again thrilled to be able to support Project Grad programs for Waimea, Kauai, and Kapaa high schools,” said Patrick Ono, Matson Kauai district manager. “We feel that having a save, smoke-free, alcohol-free, and drug-free event following graduating ceremonies is an outstanding way to celebrate a great year. We congratulate our 2017 graduating seniors and send our very best wishes for continued success as they each begin their next chapter in life.”

Laurie Yoshida, one of the Kauai High School Project Grad co-chairs, said it costs tabout $200 per student to host the annual event.

“Students help pay for part of this, but that amounts to less than half of what it costs,” Yoshida said. “We have a larger amount of students than the other schools and that allows us to stretch our resources farther.”

Waimea Project Grad chair Lynne Tamashiro said it costs the Waimea program about $250 per student.

“We appreciate all of the help we get from the community,” said Malia Napoleon, Kapaa Project Grad chairperson. “Especially the McNight events coordinated through the McDonald’s restaurants. We have all sorts of celebrities coming out when we have our event at the Waipouli McDonald’s.”

Dereck Kawakami, a Kauai County Council member, said he has to help at the McNights.

“My daughter attends Kapaa High School,” he said. “But I’m a graduate of Kauai High School so I have to participate in both events.”

He worked the drive-thru window Wednesday.

“Can you check your order? I’m an amateur at this. I’m just volunteering,” he said to a customer.

Yoshida said Kauai High School will host a final McNight event prior to graduation — April 12 at the Lihue McDonald’s.

“We have a laulau plate, Feb 11, when the Waimea Alumni and Friends Foundation host the annual Waimea Carnival Feb. 10 and 11 at the school’s campus from 6 to 10:30 p.m.,” Tamashiro said. “Our turn is on Feb. 11. We also have a golf tournament coming up March. 4.”

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