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Pa`ina in Paradise

Molokai celebrates class of 2008 graduates.

By Brandon Roberts

Graduation is known as a commencement ceremony because it is a new beginning rather than an end. Melodious laughter echoed throughout the ceremonies, and graduates adorned gowns and grins.

Molokai High School (MHIS) and Ho`omana Hou held their graduations the last week of May in the company of friends and `ohana. Mother’s wept with joy and fathers, with pride in their eyes, were unable to contain their emotions.

It is a moment of emotional irony, with students entering adulthood – embracing their new freedom with a hint of anxiety. In the same moment, parents admire the growth of their children into young adults and hope they are prepared for work, college, or whatever the next step is.

Roughly 100 people gathered at the Kulana `Oiwi halau to celebrate Ho`omana Hou’s graduation May 30, and nearly 700 more attended the MHIS graduation the afternoon of May 31.

“I am struck by the way the island comes together,” said Senator J. Kalani English, who represents Molokai, Lanai and East Maui. “Look how everyone is here to support the grads.” The Senator has participated in the Molokai graduation five of the past six years, and feels blessed by the generosity of na pa`ina `ohana.

Ekolu Leialoha Ali`i Kaauwai Ah Yee gave the Ho`omana Hou Senior’s address, where he talked of the intimate school setting, graduating with four other students – Kameron Kaimalu Arinoki, Fumiko Darnelle Kawaikapu English, Shantell Kalei Anela Mahealani Pu and Johnathan Kainoa Isidra Sanchez.

Ah Yee spoke of the new world that awaits them and of the challenges they have already tackled. He gave inspiration to the under classes, and awed the attendants with a beautiful Hawaiian mele. The small setting allowed the Ho`omana Hou graduates to hold hands with family and faculty, singing and swaying to Hawaii Aloha.

“Take a deep breath with me, here comes the rest of our lives,” said Ayla Bicoy, MHIS co-valedictorian. “Only people who have taken risks have the freedom to live.” Bicoy, along with Tierra Madani, Kelsy Takashima and Kristan Forsberg, all graduated summa cum laude as proud Farmers.

Their message to peers and parents was one of reassurance, acknowledging their capacity to succeed, their willingness to work, and that none can forget the pride they have in where they come from.

With tassels turned from right to left, it was time to gather hugs, to hope the leis of candy and flowers are heavy enough to keep their feet on the ground so the numerous balloons can not carry them off.

Congratulations class of 2008, and remember Bicoy’s wisdom, take the chances and enjoy the freedom that is life.


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