LIHUE — Over the past 24 years, Charles Fulks has seen countless students graduate from Kauai High School and go off to do great things. But the counselor said the Class of 2017 stands out.
And for all the right reasons.
“This is the first time we’ve had so many students get into top-level schools,” he said.
Fulks said he can’t take much credit for helping the seniors get into colleges, as they did most of the work.
“I knew these students were a great bunch early on, but I didn’t expect them to get as many scholarships as they did and get into so many of the top-tier schools,” Fulks said. “Ivy League schools are so hard to get into.”
The Class of 2017 has 12 valedictorians.
Jeffrey Peterson, who will be going on a two-year church mission in Australia before enrolling at Brigham Young University, intends to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering program on a scholarship, which covers half his tuition for two semesters.
Peterson is grateful for the opportunities at Kauai High.
“This year had a lot of work but I managed to balance my social life a little more which was good,” Peterson said.
Ava Wagner said she really made an effort to challenge herself beyond the work she was doing in the classroom.
“High school was really interesting for me. It was a good experience to push myself more because I wasn’t always challenged. It was kind of up to me to challenge myself,” Wagner said.
With straight As, Wagner will be delivering a valedictory speech later this month. She is one of many Kauai High seniors who have received local scholarships, such as the Hawaii Rotary Youth Foundation and Kauai High School Foundation scholarship.
“Obviously, tuition is very high, but I’m very grateful to get those because every penny helps,” she said.
The Kauai High School Foundation handed out 12 scholarships this year, for a total of $23,500.
“The foundation has been awesome,” said Principal Anne Kane. “They help the school year after year and provide multiple scholarships.”
Kane said the foundation doesn’t just help out with scholarships.
“The foundation also provides the athletic department with $10,000 a year for things that our budget doesn’t cover,” Kane said. “They supported us when our students were going to science fair, they supported us when we had students going to a national event in Florida, they help us with all the academic things, not only scholarships. When we ask, they’re always there.”
Trevor Passmore, another valedictorian in this year’s graduating class, wasn’t awarded a scholarship despite his perfect grade-point average. But he was shocked when he got accepted into Yale to study cognitive sciences this fall.
“But I enjoyed coming here every day and getting to hang out and talk with people,” he said. “I had a fun time in high school.”
Another outstanding student is Danica Ola, who received the Star Advertiser Citizenship Award.
Ola never expected to get anything in return for being active in the community.
“All of the work I’ve done — I’ve done a lot of suicide prevention work for the state — hasn’t been for recognition,’ said Ola, who will be attending Mills College. “I truly just wanted to do work to help other people.”
Kauai High School’s commencement ceremony is on Friday.