Graduation time

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Congratulatory signs on the fence at Kapa‘a Beach Park es across the island signal the start of graduation season.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Congratulatory signs are popping up in communities across the island, here on Kuhio and Kaumuali‘i highways at the Rice Street intersection in Lihu‘e, signaling the start of graduation season.

LIHU‘E — Nearly 700 students from the three public high schools will be celebrating their educational milestone May 21 when graduation exercises take place for Kaua‘i, Kapa‘a and Waimea.

“We are so proud of our Class of 2021 graduates for their scholarship, student leadership and resilience during this very difficult COVID-19 period,” state Department of Education Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said in the DOE graduation announcement.

“Our high schools across the islands have been working with graduates, parents and families to plan the best possible celebrations while adhering to social-distancing requirements and other health and safety guidelines. We thank our school communities and partners who have been working to make these events truly special.”

This is the highlight of the graduation season on Kaua‘i that starts Friday when Kaua‘i Community College celebrates commencement exercises when its students receive their appropriate degrees, awards and certificates. The private and public charter schools also have their own graduation ceremonies, joining the number of other schools, including elementary schools and nursery schools.

Operating under the COVID-19 pandemic health and safety rules and the recently-invoked Tier 3 rules, graduation will take place with limited attendance and heavy dependence on live streams.

At KCC, commencement will be a drive-thru ceremony with the college’s Marketing Department doing photographs of graduates and their households in front of their parked vehicles in the Daniel K. Inouye Electronics Building parking lot, states a release from the University of Hawai‘i with information that was updated on May 5.

All participants must wear face coverings and maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from other participants.

Once the ceremony starts, graduates will drive to the front of the KCC Performing Arts Center and remain in their vehicles while receiving their degrees, awards and certificates from Chancellor Joseph Daisy.

The DOE announced the graduation-alternative ceremonies for Kaua‘i’s Class of 2021 that limit guest access in compliance with COVID-19 and Tier 3 rules and guidelines.

All three of Kaua‘i’s public high schools will celebrate graduation on May 21, with Kapa‘a High having 240 participating senior students on the school’s campus, in-person with limited guests and vehicles and live streaming.

Kaua‘i High will host 290 participating seniors at the Vidinha Stadium in Lihu‘e with limited guests, and live stream provided.

State DOE Kaua‘i Complex Area Superintendent Paul Zina, in a recent conversation on graduation, said Kaua‘i DOE officials have been in communication with the Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency and other governmental agencies in ensuring the proper protocol is approved.

Kaua‘i High graduating seniors will be socially-distanced on the Vidinha Stadium field (with face masks being worn), and guests being admitted into the stadium will also be socially-distanced in compliance with the current approved graduation protocols.

Waimea High returns to its campus front lawn, with approximately 135 graduating seniors, for an in-person ceremony with limited guests and live stream.

Because of the dynamic condititions brought on by the pandemic, individuals seeking more detailed information on a graduation ceremony should contact the institution directly.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or

  1. RGLadder37 May 11, 2021 12:20 am Reply

    Hello. I used to be from Waimea High School. I graduated from the class of 1977. Waimea High School Menehunes. While I was in school, pop warner and high school was really big. The smaller players played pop warner and the bigger players played high school and both
    ways. But pop warner was really big too. Hanapepe field. In school we saw everything. The pop warner players taking pride in their community. And the high school players taking pride in their school. However way you look at it, they all had to pass one big test. That is the school’s exams for graduation. In the end, pop warner failed like the high school players. Only the high school players had their yearbook to show for, while pop warner had other pictures from their sports memoirs to recollect on. The main point I’m making is that high school was a passing phase. Only the honor roll students made it out of their classes with passing grades and an acceptable future jobs. All the others were stuck in low paying jobs or just getting ends meet. If this sound like part of your story graduation, well take heart, virtual or not, graduation in high school blends everyone into one to form one graduating class. That is the whole story about graduation.

  2. RGLadder37 May 11, 2021 12:46 am Reply

    One more story to tell. You know how everyone in high school took pride in their school and they had something to show for. Some had their diplomas. Some had their football jerseys. Some had their pop warner jerseys, and their diplomas. But crying. The class of 1977 Waimea High School, I had a teacher named Mrs. Doi. She taught Geometry. I think she died already. Sophomore year, 1975 for me. Anyway, Mrs. Doi left me one legacy. Her true love of Geometry gave me, the class of 1977 the necessary skills in math to be like what most football players go through. But never see things through fruition. To this day, I give Mrs. Doi credit for making it possible for me to remember math and enjoy it. I used it to my own reward. To this day, we go to Honolulu International Airports on a nice sunset day on Saturday, just to fly my own model airplane. Home made. I give Mrs. Doi, that love of math, and transferred this to making my own model airplane to fly. It’s a hobby. It’s all about what you love. Mrs. Doi had that added edge to leave that math, and I carried this over into making a flying model airplanes in Honolulu. And to think I used to play pop warner football. 1976 was my last year senior bantum league at Hanapepe field. I think it may be an inspiration to some. If you like hobbies, find something to do, and maybe it just might relate to an old teacher you had. Just one thought about graduation.

  3. Lora May 11, 2021 3:17 am Reply

    Congratulations to all the Kauai students graduating!
    I find it very sad that all democratic states are still mandating mask, this is a very special day for these very young adults and their smiles should be showing, not hidden behind a mask that has not done any thing but, cause skin irritation and other issues, plus breathing problems due to breathing in their own carbon… FREE OUR FACE…. SHOW YOUR SMILE

  4. jake May 11, 2021 7:24 am Reply

    What’s really sad here isn’t the pandemic, but that more than half of these kids are being graduated with the reading level of 4th graders.

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