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33 seniors graduated from Island School

PUHI — Island School’s 33 graduating seniors said goodbye to high school during their commencement ceremony on Saturday morning, May 27, 2023, as family members and friends filled the school’s Wilcox Gymnasium to watch the Class of 2023 deliver heartfelt presentations and receive their diplomas.

Island School, a private, college-preparatory school, was started in 1977 by a group of women that was looking for an alternative to Kaua‘i public schools. The school serves students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, and has a total enrollment of 492, including 186 high school students, according to information on the school’s website.

During the graduation ceremony, nearly every student in the graduating Class of 2023 came up to the mic to share a personal speech, taking the opportunity to reflect on their high school experience and thank family members and faculty.

“Congratulations Class of 2023. We did it!” said Echo Rohner, who plans on studying psychology and performing arts at Hawai‘i Pacific University.

Rohner joked that, as a child, all her knowledge about high school came from the 2006 Disney movie “High School Musical.”

“This year was definitely not like that movie at all,” she said. Even though it didn’t compare to “High School Musical,” Rohner said she wouldn’t “change any part of it for the world.”

Daniela Earl, who has been attending the school for three years, shared how she found friendship, community and a sense of self after enrolling at Island School.

“Growing up, we moved from school to school, friend to friend, and I dealt with many hardships on the way. But Island School is where that all changed,” said Earl, through tears, who will head to Georgia in the fall to attend the Savannah College of Art &Design, where she plans on double majoring in fashion design and business.

“Island School has really opened up my eyes to understand what I want to do in my life and how hard I was willing to work to get there.”

Eivin Huss Eriksson shared his journey of moving to Kaua‘i from Denmark in 2019 for his mom’s new job. He related his experience of adjusting to life on the island and making new friends to the 2002 Disney movie “Lilo and Stitch,” where Lilo teaches Stitch, who comes to Kaua‘i from a faraway planet, “the ways of the aloha lifestyle.”

“I’ve made lifelong friendships. I’ve made experiences and more memories than I could have imagined,” he said. “My journey to Kaua‘i is something that I’ll forever be grateful for, and I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” said Eriksson, who plans on returning to Denmark for a gap year at Aalborg Sports School before applying to the University of Copenhagen.

Bradley Pratt shared a thoughtful and artistic short film reflecting on having grown up at Island School, edited together using voice-over, music and video footage from his early childhood and teen years. Pratt, who has been a student at the school since pre-kindergarten, plans on attending the University of Colorado at Boulder in the fall to study film and media production.

Sienna Temme, who is also set to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder, was one of many graduates to thank family members and school teachers during her speech.

“Thank you for being more than just teachers, but mentors, role models and friends as well. You have made a profound impact on my life,” she said.

The ceremony also included a class performance of the school’s anthem and a rendition of the song “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars, as well as a solo by Rayna Shafter. Shafter, who performed an original song about saying goodbye, plans on studying psychology and vocal performance at the University of San Diego.

Island School’s 2023 graduating class also includes Julia Barzilai, Melela‘i Beck, Talia Beebe, Bentley Burger, Ella Carter, Madison Choi, Liliana DeSouza, Liko Edwards, Anika Evanoff, Tanner Hadley, Liam Hall, Zachary Hermanns, Kali Ilnickij, Kianalei Kamalani, Manoa Knight, Bodie Lanini, Mia Laver, Jared Laydon Louis, Nathan Maczka, Thatcher Magoun, Lucas McSweeny, Lukas Myers, Stefanie Netto, Noémie Sánchez, Kai Spindt, Skylar Stewart and Reyn Wells.

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Emma Grunwald, reporter, can be reached 808-652-0638 or egrunwald@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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