LIHUE — Kauai High School’s Class of 2017 bid farewell to their high school careers and officially entered the world of adulthood during their commencement ceremony at Vidinha Stadium Friday evening.
Two hundred and thirty-four of Kauai High’s brightest minds graced the stage and accepted their high school diplomas before friends and families. This year’s senior class was special, said Principal Anne Kane, with 12 valedictorians and dozens of other students receiving prestigious scholarships and acceptance letters into elite universities across the nation.
Senior class president Kailee Arakaki said she’ll reflect on her high school experience as a nonstop thrill ride of emotions.
“These past few years have been a roller coaster for all of us. We went through four principals, the numerous change of teachers halfway through the year and the ever-changing bell schedule. But we did it,” Arakaki said in her speech.
Sharae Cua wanted to use her time on stage to let her classmates know that even though life after high school may be challenging, they have prepared themselves for the long road ahead.
“There is always going to be times in which life sucks. It happens. High school has taught me that the best thing that can be done to bad moments is to turn them into great memories,” she said.
Elizabeth Makizuru echoed Cua’s sentiments.
“Some of ya’ll may think that from here on out, it’s smooth sailing. But it’s not. We’ll have to face adult responsibilities like taxes and bills, not to mention the interesting political situation we’ll be in for the next four years. So yes, we should enjoy the time we have and have fun. But be aware of the imminent responsibilities to come.”
Fellow valedictorian Jaya-Lynne Ruiz-Acantilado made the audience laugh with her one-minute speech, as time permitted for the 12 valedictorians, indicating that she hadn’t put much thought into her graduation speech ahead of time.
“To be honest with you all, I wrote this in the backseat of my dad’s truck the day before it was due. My mom told me to just write something down, as if it was the easiest thing in the world,” she said. “She tends to give me advice like that. I’m going to miss our weird mother-daughter dynamic when I go to college, which is exactly 4,947 miles from here.”
Sydney Brady had two opportunities on stage to speak as the student body president and as a valedictorian, but elected to keep her speech short and sweet.
“We are becoming adults in a time of change, climate and otherwise, political turmoil, and civil unrest. With so many voices competing to be heard, making our statement becomes a more daunting task than ever,” Brady said. “If anyone is concerned about our personal futures, they haven’t spent enough time with the Kauai High School Class of 2017.”