The Kahuku Highschool Graduation had 202 seniors graduate as part of the class of 2017 at the Cannon Activities Center on Thursday, May 18. The seniors were seated on the south end of the CAC on the pulled out bleachers. The girls were seated in every other row wearing white with boys filling in between with red.
As the graduate’s names were called, cheers and screams filled the air from families and community members despite the administration’s request in the programs not to “use kazoos, party horns, other noisemakers or yell.”
One community member made a scene when they threw several bundles of cash high into the air over the stage. Some of the students used the piles of cash sitting on the stage as props to spice up their walk to receive their diplomas. One graduate made a snow angel motion in the pile of dollars, to which the audience laughed. The administrators and students continued the procession with very little pause.
“Watching my friends graduate and walk was fun,” said Celeste Christiansen, a freshman at Kahuku from Laie. “I’m excited for my own graduation now.”
Following the presentation of diplomas, the graduating class performed a senior medley, a longtime Kahuku tradition according to Laie’s Courtney Palmer, a Class of 1993 Kahuku graduate.
“The senior medley was originally a bunch of homecoming football game cheers and then the performance of some popular songs we felt represented us. It’s a great tradition. I still remember the alma mater and sang along.”
This year’s medley included popular tunes such as Bruno Mars’ “24k Magic” and “That’s What I Like.” The students added some Red Raider flare to each of the songs with original lyrics and the infamous Kahuku tomahawk chop. The students also sang “We Are the World,” which has been sung in many of the past graduations, according to Palmer.
While the students appeared to enjoy sharing their modern culture and identity in their performance, the crowd of community and family gave the biggest applause and cheers for the students as they performed a traditional haka.
Aioteren Makekau, a graduating high school senior originally from New Zealand, enjoyed the opportunity to perform a haka with his classmates. “As a Maori I feel proud of my heritage and to share it with the community and to share tautoko (support) with my classmates.”
At the conclusion of the medley, the students exited the CAC into the BYUH Big Circle and surrounding lawns filling the area from the tennis courts to the Lorenzo Snow Building. Parents and siblings awaited the graduates with large posters and banners. Members of the community flowed from student to student giving gifts of leis, both decorative and edible, along with well wishes for the graduates.
Nane, a community member from Tonga, sold leis for graduation at the Kulanui St. and Naniloa Loop intersection. She said in Tonga she never saw the graduation leis, but since she moved to Laie she had come to appreciate the significance of the tradition.
“When you give a lei to someone, you show to someone you appreciate that person. We appreciate this graduating class and their efforts to make our families and community proud.”
NOTE: This story's online publishing was delayed because it was being considered to be feature in the June 2017 print issue.