PUHI — “The clouds parted so we could see the eclipse,” said Sherry Amimoto of Kauai Community College Administrative Services Monday. “We had a bunch of people who came so it was lucky the clouds opened up so we could see something. There was an eclipse cake and everything.”
Dr. Michael Hannawald, KCC physics and chemistry instructor, was excited about having the eclipse take place on the opening day of classes for KCC’s fall semester.
“We had clouds to start, but it cleared so we had about an hour of viewing,” he said. “We had the Island School physics class here, and some faculty and their family. It was a nice crowd.”
KCC opened its doors to 1,303 students Monday, a 3 percent increase from last fall semester.
“I’m pleased to be able to say we at Kauai Community College have an increase in enrollment,” said KCC Chancellor Helen Cox.
Maui Community College reported a 1 percent increase.
Although students increased, the number of semester hours showed a decrease of 0.4 percent from the previous year. Monday’s census showed 10,594 semester hours, compared to the 10,632 semester hours for the 2016 fall semester.
Brandon Makua, a graduate of Kailua High School, was enjoying the first day of college.
“Kauai is a small island,” Makua said. “It’s easier to communicate with people and have people communicate with you. I’ve been out of school for a few years, so it’s time to move forward.”
Isaiah Ka‘auwai, vice chancellor of student affairs, said the college has been offering the Early College program to high schools, wherein most prep students take just one class.
KCC is offering late registration for the remainder of the week.
Imaikalani Sussman, a pre-nursing student, said following a life-changing experience with a family member, it was time to get back to school.
“My mother was 40 when she went back to school,” Sussman said. “If she can do it, so can I.”
Cami Matsumoto, KCC community relations director, said the Language Arts and Humanities multi-purpose building is expected to be completed in September.
Lea Blum just graduated from Kapaa High School, and came to school with her dream of owning a bakery.
“Being here is an interesting experience compared to high school,” she said.
Demetrio Castillo, a Kauai High School Carpentry Academy graduate, said the vibe is different from high school.
“It’s different in a good way,” said Isaiah Jarom, a Kauai High School graduate enjoying his first college experience.
Crystal Cruz, an instructor with the Carpentry Academy, said she was proud the three students — Castillo, Jarom and Darius Tabalbag — were accepted as Waialeale Project students, a program funded by an anonymous donor and geared toward Native Hawaiians and other first-time college students who would not have considered college following high school.
“I’m so proud of these boys,” said Glenn Taba, another Carpetry Academy instructor.
“Now, they have to graduate because there are the jobs waiting for them.”