LIHUE — The Kauai High School Class of 2019 graduated Friday.
“It’s been a long four years,” Taynan Tani said, standing in a red robe among his classmates behind the grandstand at Vidinha Stadium on Friday afternoon. “Even though we’re leaving each other, we’re all gonna be together in our hearts and in our minds.”
Tani, who plans to attend Orange Coast College in California in the fall, waited for the ceremony to start alongside his friend Raiden Pagatpatan, a future student of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.
“It’s all mental,” Pagatpatan said when asked if he wanted to say something for the newspaper. “Just put, ‘it’s all mental,’ and then put my name.”
Class President Emily Morden said she hasn’t decided which college to go to yet. She graduated magna cum laude, earning academic and educational honors, and received acceptance letters from four different universities. Morden said she has narrowed her future down to University of Portland or University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Morden said she wasn’t nervous about making a speech because she rehearsed so many times in front of family and friends.
“I wish you the best of luck,” she said to all her fellow classmates.
“Congratulations 2019!” said Class Historian Tiffany Sagucio, who is heading to University of Hawaii at Manoa to study journalism. “We all made it!”
The ceremony, which was supposed to start at 5:30 p.m., didn’t really get underway until about a half hour later. Rain clouds started to gather as the Class of 2019 walked onto the field. Cheers from the crowd grew louder as the procession continued.
“Yeah, you did it! We love you,” yelled a man in the back, as one of his loved ones made their way to the stage.
The ceremony started with an introduction from Leslie Acoba and Brandon Marcos, two members of the graduating class who acted as the masters of ceremonies. After some brief opening remarks by school Principal Marlene Leary, state Board of Education member Margaret Cox gave the keynote address.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our public schools,” she said, pointing out all the advantages Kauai students have been given by the staff and faculty. She closed with a few words of encouragement.
“From today on, if you believe in yourself, and work really hard, you can achieve anything you work toward,” she said.
Next, the members of the Class of 2019 who received a combined total of $3.5 million in college scholarships were recognized, followed by those who participated in early-college-credit programs.
“Isn’t it amazing that Kauai High has given these students an advantage before they even went to college?” asked Lindsey Lee-Hornstine, the 12th-grade counselor. “These students will enter college with three, six, or even 18 credits.”
Leary then presented a special award, the Seal of Biliteracy.
“We have one student who has received this special honor,” she said. “And that is Takeshi Komar.”
Komar is the valedictorian. Next year he will attend Texas A&M University, and has already received over $20,000 in scholarships.
The Na Lima Kokua Award was then given to the top 10% of the graduating class, followed by awards for outstanding athletes: Kehela Ventura, who is going to Bard College on a $60,000 scholarship, and Whitney Lugo, who earned $9,000 toward his tuition at Eastern Washington University.
Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or email@example.com.