LAHAINA - Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in Lahaina was full to overflowing with pride last week Wednesday (May 21) during the Eighth Grade Sacred Hearts School graduation of Brandon Barreno, Krizhna Bayudan, James Caputo, Chanel Charbonnier, David Coulombe, Max Easler, James (JP) Hill, Summer Macedo, Nicole Slusser, Carter Stockham and Erin Tsue.
Before the standout Class of 2014 walked down the aisle to collect their diplomas, the motivating message of their passage has been about the journey and not the destination.
It's not surprising, as the eighth grade teacher at Sacred Hearts School is Mary Anna Enriquez, with her love of sailing as deep as her commitment to teaching.
Enriquez is one of 20 teachers statewide chosen to participate in the A'o Hawaii program in support of the World Wide Voyage (Malama Honua) of the Hawaiian double-hulled sailing canoes Hokule'a and Hikianalia; and her students are following a bold new tack of sharing knowledge.
As the sister ships embarked on their 36-month trek across the oceans of this planet last week, so did the wayfinders of Sacred Hearts School witnessed by family, friends, faculty and administrators.
In keeping with the course the students have steered the past two years, Pa'anaakala (Kala) Baybayan was selected as the guest speaker of the commemoration.
Baybayan is unassuming and immensely proud. She is the apprentice navigator on the first leg of Malama Honua aboard the Hikianalia.
"There will be calm days, there will be beautiful days, there will be days of storms, squalls and rogue waves on your journey - for me to Tahiti, and for you guys, you have your own Tahiti. So with your eye on the destination, don't forget about the voyage itself," she advised.
Remember, Baybayan continued, "the weight of the voyage is in the preparation."
Her roots are deeply embedded on the West Side and at Maria Lanakila Church.
She was "born and raised until second grade in Lahaina, Maui, and then moved to Kona, Big Island," she told the Lahaina News.
Both she and her son were baptized at the historic church on Wainee Street.
Her grandmother, Lillian Kalepa, attended King Kamehameha Elementary School, and she was baptized at Maria Lanakila in 1936.
Her father is Chad Kalepa Baybayan, graduate of Sacred Hearts School and Lahainaluna High School (Class of 1974).
He was recognized last Wednesday night and received the SHS Distinguished Alumnus Award.
He was unable, however, to attend the ceremonies, as his duties as master navigator aboard Hokule'a supersede all others.
Kalepa's credentials are impressive. He has his Master's Degree in Education and currently serves as the navigator-in-residence at the 'Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii. Kalepa has logged thousands of nautical miles aboard the Hokule'a since 1975.
Kala exclaimed, "It's been a lifelong dream. My father has been sailing since before I was born. I guess I was born into it."
She encouraged others to reach for their dreams - no matter how challenging or time-consuming.
"We have been preparing for this voyage since 2007. This is 2014, so we are ready to go; we are ready to depart. As you folks continue on to high school, your voyaging has just begun," the navigator initiate observed, imparting these words of wisdom, "Don't be afraid to talk and ask for help."
It's a long crossing before these West Side youth, but the message is clear. The mission of the World Wide Voyage and graduates of SHS is intricately interconnected: "The navigators must continue to sail in order to bring home gifts to the islands."