LIHU‘E — While the state Department of Education considers what to do about the upcoming Class of 2020 graduation, several students voiced disappointment that they won’t be walking the traditional aisle for their commencement.
“I feel as it is a disappointment to most of the seniors,” said Kaylee Alapa‘i, a senior at Kaua‘i High School. “Our whole schooling life we’ve been working towards this moment of walking across that stage and getting our diploma, getting cheered on by our friends and family, and now we won’t be able to do that.”
Class of 2020 members were set to be the stars of the traditional graduation ceremonies next month, along with all of the attached celebrations, words of wisdom, flower lei and proud ‘ohana by their sides. Social-distancing precautions that come along with the COVID-19 pandemic, however, have led to the cancellation of the traditional ceremonies.
“We will be the first class that won’t be having a physical countdown to graduation,” Alapa‘i said. “We also had a missed prom and a missed opportunity to say goodbye to our friends and teachers we cherished the most. It’s just sad to know that we’ve worked so hard (only) to get all of these special events taken from our hands so quickly.”
She continued: “But on the other hand, we are a different generation, and now we have a different style of graduating compared to the traditional graduation ceremony, and all we can do is accept it for what is it and cherish the most out of it.”
Alapai, 18, said her future consists of living the military life in the U.S. Air Force.
Mikaele Brown, 17, also a senior at Kaua‘i High School, has already enrolled in Kaua‘i Community College’s carpentry technology program, and was looking forward to his own graduation celebration before taking that next step.
“Honestly, I’m bummed, like I worked hard for nothing,” Brown said. “Even though I’m graduating, it’s not the same ‘cause there’s no graduation and celebration with my friends.”
While seniors lament and wait for direction from their schools, DOE Communication Director Lindsay Chambers said officials are considering alternative graduation options and plan to make an announcement sometime this week.
“Graduation is considered a major milestone in any academic journey,” said Dr. Christina Kishimoto, DOE superintendent.
”In Hawai‘i these celebrations are uniquely special, with a long-standing tradition of families coming together to celebrate, giving towering amounts of lei, and enjoying each other’s company — something we are all missing during this time,” Kishimoto said.
“The department has faced tough decisions throughout this unprecedented situation, especially around commencement ceremonies. We’ve looked for innovative solutions to support and celebrate our seniors who deserve this recognition.”
Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.