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MHS Scholarship Award Ceremony

By Dr. Caryl Hitchcock, Project Ho’oku’i and Associate Professor, UH Manoa

It was a beautiful sunny day in Ho‘olehua when students and families gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the MHS scholarship awardees from the graduating class of 2023. It was the first in-person meeting for a while and everyone was happy to see students, family and community members together again in the high school library. Ms. Sonni Han and Ms. Ku’ulei Simon (Mistresses of Ceremonies) skillfully facilitated the list of presenters for 2023’s scholarships from generous donors. The love and support from the community for the students was evident in the mana (spirit) in the room. Miki’ala Pescaia recounted the mo‘olelo of Ha‘eha‘eku the giant of Waikolu to remind us of our duty to take care of our island and each other. It was a proud moment for the families in the audience to have their sons’ and daughters’ (and the parents’) hard work recognized and to receive the support from the scholarships to help them on their career pathways both professional and technical. We wish them well on their journey and look forward to their return to this island that is home. This awards ceremony instilled renewed hope for the future.

A special mention goes to three MHS students who are on track to graduate from high school this year with their associate’s degrees. This took planning, sacrifice, hard work and dedication. These students are Mahealani Bright-Wilhelm, Kailani Bicoy and Kahakuhailoa Poepoe.

Project Ho‘oku‘i, funded by a series of Native Hawaiian education grants, has been a proud supporter of MHS students since 2011 and many students at the event were members of  the project. In addition to providing mentoring and financial support for early college classes (tuition, fees, books, and transportation), for the first time this year, two competitive $12,000 scholarships were awarded to MHS graduates to attend UH Manoa in the fall of 2023. Congratulations to Kahenawai Hirata and Tenley Akutagawa! 

Next year there will be more scholarships available for UH Manoa and work is underway to add scholarships to attend UH Hilo and Hawaii Community College CTE programs as well as continued support for early college classes. Please contact Earl Nakamura at MHS for information and how to apply.


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