Categorized | Education, Featured

Ka‘u High School Class of 2011

Senior Class President Daryn Galigo. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7 by Julia Neal)

Special to Hawaii 24/7 by Julia Neal | The Ka‘u Calendar

Sixty-two students made up the 2011 graduating class of Ka‘u High School, and most of them made the walk to receive their diplomas Friday night at Ka‘u High School Gym.

Principal Sharon Beck said graduates received $250,000 in scholarships, and 47 of them are going on to higher education, a growing percentage over years past.

Valedictorian Dakota Walker and his grandmother. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7 by Julia Neal)

She also noted the girls volleyball and wrestling teams went to state finals, and the musical group One Journey won the statewide Brown Bags to Stardom competition, a David over Goliath achievement from one of the smallest schools in the state.

Beck said the Class of 2011 has brought “leadership, energy, a great deal of laughter and yes – some stress, to the school. Parents, you have much to be proud of.”

Senior Class President Daryn Galigo said, “We have learned to endure and overcome whatever tribulations come our way. It is time to show the world what we are capable of and give back to those who sacrificed to get us here.”

Salutatorian Jaeneise Cuison thanked teachers, coaches and family members for helping her overcome the fear of being a freshman and to become an adult. She said all the seniors contributed “blood, sweat and energy.”

Sen. Daniel Akaka sent a letter saying “graduation is a milestone that allows us to reflect on past achievement and contemplate the future.” He urged students to “take an active part to make this a better Hawaii.”

Valedictorian Dakota Walker won a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University. He gave credit to his family and to teachers and coaches who, despite pay cuts and poor access to resources, “managed to make four years at Ka‘u High School anything but a waste of time.”

He said that no expensive private school provides the kind of love, understanding “and sheer effectiveness that you find at our school.”

Keynote speaker Kurt Dela Cruz talked about his kid days in Ka‘u when he was known as “Swingy,” living behind Matsumoto store in Naalehu. He now works as a freshman counselor at University of Hawaii in Hilo but still considers Ka‘u as home.

He urged the graduates not to “be shame” of their accomplishments. “Shame is when you steal,” he said, “not when you achieve. Shame is when you get your name in the paper – abuse of household member.”

He urged students to always be proud of being from Ka‘u and said there is a glow, something special about everyone from the place. It can be seen in everyone from Navy commanders to attorneys and others who graduate from Ka‘u High.

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