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Class of 2017 Shows Academic and Athletic Excellence

Seventy-four students proudly marched between balloons and streamers, in front of family and friends, to receive their diplomas from Molokai High School last Saturday. With seven valedictorians — signifying the class’ highest grade point average — and one salutatorian, or second highest GPA — the class exemplified both academic and athletic excellence.

Principal Stan Hao remarked that the Class of 2017 boasts five Maui Interscholastic League athletic championships, and 36 students from have already completed college classes.

“The Class of 2017 has to be the most accomplished in college and career readiness,” he said.

Senior Class President Kananiokeaolani Ah Van called her class independent, loud and hard working, with a lot of natural talent. The audience heard their talent on display as the class joined together in a musical selection during the ceremony.

“As your time at Molokai High School comes to an end, it is my hope that you will continue to build on all that you have learned,” said Sen. Brian Schatz in a message to this year’s graduates read on his behalf. “While you pursue your passions… I encourage you to use them to find ways to give back to your community. We need you now, more than ever, to… stand up for what is right.”

Salutatorian Jarron Boswell echoed Schatz’s words in his own speech to his classmates.

“We’ve ben blessed to be raised on this island,” he said. “… Go out and do great things.”

“Inspiration is everywhere,” Valedictorian Sonja Angst reminded her fellow graduates. Calling out to ask them if they are ready for what’s next, her classmates responded with enthusiasm. “The Class of 2017 is ready!” she announced to the gathered crowd. “Are you ready for us?”

Valedictorian Erik Svetin commented on the many accomplishments his classmates have achieved.

“We defy all odds as one of the smallest schools in Hawaii,” he said. “All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Other valedictorians of the Class of 2017 are Lily Jenkins, Jershon Kaalekahi, Sebastian Naehu-Ramos and Ida Pongmulee.

Middle School robotics coaches Kaho`iwai and Ka`eo Kawa`a, who have lead teams to world robotics championships, gave this year’s commencement address.

“My advice to you [is to] find something that you love…” advised Kaho`iwai Kawa`a. “If you love what you’re doing, everything falls into place.”

Kae`o Kawa`a added that the Class of 2017 comprised the “first wave” of Molokai students for the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs that have laid the foundation for many of the school’s state, national and international successes in STEM fields.

Amid the cheers, photo taking, smiles and tears of family and friends, members of the Class of 2017 triumphantly left The Barn to begin the next step of their lives.

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