KAPA‘A — There was no shortage of pomp and circumstance at the Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex on Friday evening, as the Kapa‘a High School Class of 2023 prepared to receive their 228 diplomas — a 100 percent graduation rate.
Equipped with handmade signs, lei, airhorns and cowbells, families and friends of the students filled the stands, ready to cheer on the soon-to-be graduates.
The crowd was even treated to a flower drop, as Jack Harter Helicopters sprinkled the stadium with petals ahead of the event.
During the ceremony, Ernest Cate Abadicio — the top valedictorian — reflected on his educational journey, noting how he used to stare through the door to Kapa‘a High School when he attended Kapa‘a Elementary, wondering what it was like on the other side.
“At this graduation, we all face similar situations as we stare into the doorway of new jobs, colleges or other futures,” he said.
“Unlike our younger selves, who could only gaze at the door, we have the opportunity to be brave and step in, take the time to explore. And when you find a path that is not meant for you, do not be afraid to take a step back — there are people behind you to catch you if you falter. Be grateful to them.”
Principal Tommy John Cox also spoke to the graduating class, emphasizing the unique challenges of attending high school through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This class has probably had the most challenging and frustrating, yet interesting and unique, four years of high school. The fourth quarter of your ninth grade year was canceled. You stayed at home and did distance learning your 10th grade year,” he told the students.
”We came back to campus as juniors wearing masks and social distancing. And then, all of a sudden, it was senior year, and things were supposed to be normal. However, everything wasn’t normal — how we do school had changed, how you learn had changed, and you had changed as an individual.”
He continued, championing the class’s 100 percent graduation rate, as well as the 30 valedictorians, students who had earned nurse aide certifications and student athletes who brought state championships home to Kaua‘i.
“Each of you did what you had to do to get to this point,” he said. “Each of you overcame personal obstacles, and many of you used those obstacles as an opportunity to learn and grow. I personally commend each student in the Class of 2023 for getting to this point.”
The hardships of attending high school through the pandemic weren’t lost on Kapa‘a High 2022-23 student body president Kodie Kaina either, as she emphasized the difficulties that came with the class’s unique circumstances.
“It definitely wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies — there were some thunders and lightnings, too,” she said. “But that only makes this moment sweeter to my class.”
Kaina closed her speech by leaving the graduating class with a series of lessons to take with them as they move onto the next chapter of their lives.
“Wherever your future may take you, don’t be afraid to chase your dreams. No dreams are too big or too small,” she said.
”Don’t be frightened by the risk and opportunity life might throw at you. There is no such thing as failure, only learning and results. Sometimes you’ll learn what doesn’t work, and that’s OK. Just don’t give up, because you might be surprised by the end result.”
Jackson Healy, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-4966 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Garden Island
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