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Class of ’09 made an impact on Lahainaluna

By Staff | Jun 11, 2009

LAHAINA — The expressions of congratulations to the Lahainaluna High School Class of 2009 are visibly more pronounced this year than ever before. Mostly done up in the Lunas’ red and white, signs stretch from the old Pioneer Mill smokestack at the bottom of Lahainaluna Road all the way up to the historic campus on both sides of the street.

It is the community paying tribute to 225 teenagers for accomplishing the momentous goal of crossing the bridge into adulthood with a high school diploma in hand. The days leading up to graduation day, climaxed by the commencement exercises and the lighting of the "L" above the school last Sunday, reflect the sharing of joy that manifests the cultural community bond of Lahaina.

Lahainaluna Vice Principal and Senior Class Advisor Joanne Dennis characterized this year’s graduates as a wonderful group that made a positive impact on the school.

"I have grown extremely fond of these kids in being with them since their freshman year. They are talented in so many areas — academics, student government, sports — but also they are good natured and sincerely like one another," she said.

"We didn’t have very many disciplinary problems with this class, as they are a very sweet and respectful — yet playful — bunch that excelled in school spirit," Dennis continued. "I know that many of them will go on to make Lahainaluna proud, as they have very high academic aspirations. I have become very attached to this class, and we will certainly miss them."

Three shining stars from the Lahainaluna Class of 2009 that exemplify these high aspirations are Valedictorians Hailey Gill, Elizabeth Lagbas and Jackie Owens. All three are headed to top universities — the University of Southern California, the University of Washington, and Washington State University, respectively — after excelling academically and athletically here, and all three underscored the rich tradition and values of Lahainaluna High School.

"Lahainaluna High School is more than just an institution of leaning; it is a beautiful home filled with love, spirit and history. The time I have experienced at Lahainaluna could not have been matched at any other school. The students, teachers, counselors and staff members all share a common reverence for this special school, and I feel unbelievably lucky to be a part of this family. As I go off to the University of Southern California, I will always remain a Luna at Heart. I hope to make my home proud," said Hailey.

"Attending Lahainaluna High School has meant a great deal to me. The people I have met and the knowledge I have gained helped me strive to reach my goals. Lahainaluna has such a rich history here in West Maui. I feel that being a part of this history and a part of our West Maui community has instilled important values in me that I will take with me to the University of Washington. It has been an honor to follow in the footsteps of all my family members before me who have attended Lahainaluna," Lagbas said.
"These past four years at Lahainaluna High School will be a time in my life that I will never forget. The friendships that I have made, the life lessons that I have learned, and the support that I received will be the things that I will remember for the rest of my life. I have learned so much from this school, and I know that this knowledge will assist me in my future endeavors. Our school spirit at Lahainaluna is really special and has definitely contributed to our success. This spirit is what makes our school so unique and is something that I will take with me. I am so thankful for our great support network at Lahainaluna that includes all of our amazing teachers and staff, and of course our incredible community. I have no doubt that the lessons that our class has learned over these past four years will enable each and every one of us to reach our goals and more," said Owens.

Vice Principal Dennis noted that of the Lahainaluna graduates of 2009, 99 percent plan to go on to college, trade schools or military service.

"They also won over $260,000 in scholarships and are the last class to meet the No Child Left Behind benchmarks, reached in testing during their sophomore year, to meet the AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) requirements for the school," she concluded.

Congratulations to the Class of 2009!