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Contrades, Kurz get their high school diploma from MCSA

LIHU‘E — Gage Contrades, 18, and Jayda Kurz, 17, both of Anahola, were set on buying their Christmas tree on Monday.

But, not before making a stop at the McKinley Community School for Adults, Kaua‘i, to pick up their high school diploma.

Michael Callahan, the Transition Coordinator for the MCSA Kaua‘i said both students were enrolled at Kamehameha Schools when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools.

“Gage came in at the height of the pandemic,” Callahan said. “Jayda followed. They were the youngest students in the school where the minimum age must be 18 or older to be eligible for enrollment. Jayda was 16 years old when she entered. She would be a senior graduating with the Class of 2023, but she’s already done it. They even took their final tests, together.”

Jayda said her father graduated with a GED when he was 16 years old, so she decided to do some reading on the MCSA program while waiting for the pandemic to pass.

“I was in Advanced Placement,” Jayda said. “And with the regular schedule of classes, it was a long day in school. And, that’s not counting the homework. My dad took his GED test that took almost the entire day for the four tests, involved. Luckily, they streamlined the process so everything moves smoothly, today.”

Gage said he would’ve graduated last year, but with the COVID-19 coming into play, was doubtful that would’ve happened.

He is grateful for the support he got from Jayda who negotiated the courses with him to finish, together.

“We’re ready for the next step,” Jayda said. “But first, we have to get the Christmas tree, and lunch!”

Jayda is currently employed as a personal assistant, and at the candy shop located at Kilohana where they have samples of the several types of carmel they vend.

Gage works with the Kilohana Railroad, and is a fire knife dancer with Luau Kalamaku at Kilohana.

Currently, the McKinley Community School for Adults have about 40 students all working remotely toward their high school diploma.

“Some people come in just to take the GED test,” said Cailee Estes of MCSA Kaua‘i. “Others enroll in the pre-GED test preparation course, or enroll in the full curriculum. We don’t have a full class graduating all at one time. Once they are successful with the GED, they leave and others come in.”

Working remotely means the teacher is on campus and the students tune in remotely.

“Having Gage and Jayda here is not only an opportunity to recognize their achievement, but it’s nice to be able to tell people, ‘We’re still here!’” Callahan said, reminding the graduation pair that lunch was on him on Monday.

McKinley Community School for Adults, with campuses located at McKinley, Farrington, Moanalua, Maui, and Kaua‘i, has a mission of providing basic, remedial, and continuing educational opportunities, including information technology, for the adults and community population of Hawai‘i.



Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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