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Lahainaluna Class of 2011 known for its unique unity

By Staff | May 26, 2011

From left, Lahainaluna High School Principal Emily DeCosta and Vice Principals Keola Rogat and Joanne Dennis led the graduation processional for the Class of 2011 on Sunday evening on campus. There were 225 students in DeCosta’s first graduating class at Lahainaluna. The seniors received $1.4 million in scholarships. Photo by Walter Chihara.

LAHAINA — A delighted throng of family, friends, administrators, teachers and staff joined together with the Lahainaluna High School Class of 2011 to celebrate commencement exercises at the picturesque setting of Boarders’ Field in the heart of the hillside campus last Sunday evening.

The tree shaded, grassy knoll that is forever graced by the warmth of the filtered setting sun served as the ideal venue to bid farewell to this class of over 200 candidates for graduation. Among the Class of 2011 were some 100 academic honorees that wore gold, silver or purple cords to signify Summa Cum Laude (3.8 and above grade point average), Magna Cum Laude (3.5-3.8 GPA) or Cum Laude (3.0-3.5 GPA) achievement.

Also recognized were the National Honor Society members who wore the organization’s stole, as well as scholarship recipients.

Prominent among the graduates were the nine Valedictorians who wore the Balfour medallions in recognition of the highest class honor. They include Stephen Adolfson, Emna Baccar, Hija Mae Bautista, Chantal Charkas, Chaney Countryman, Kristen Fuller, Koral Gill, Brynne Johnson and Kaila Nip.

Asked to describe what it meant to attend Lahainaluna High School, Fuller replied, “As a member of the Lahaina community, you can see that there’s something special about Lahainaluna High School. But as a student, I have experienced enough to feel what it is that makes this school so special.

“Lahainaluna is different from other schools on the island because from the moment you set foot on the campus, you’re treated like family. It has meant so much to me to be able to be a part of this for the last four years. I feel so blessed to be able to graduate from this school knowing that I will always be able to come back and be welcomed with open arms. Whether it was cheering our athletes on at sporting events or participating in Homecoming, the Lahaina community has never failed to amaze me with their unwavering support and dedication for the students at Lahainaluna.

“This school has built me into the person I am today, and I can’t think of anywhere I would be more proud to graduate from. I would like to thank everyone who has helped make my high school career as a student and as an athlete the best years of my life.”

Adolfson added, “It was a blessing to attend Lahainaluna. I had the chance of a lifetime to not only live in one of the prettiest places in the world, but to be educated shaped from such unique cultures.

“Teachers at Lahainaluna take pride in their profession and are dedicated to helping students make the next step in their lives. The teachers are not the only ones that are looking out for the students; the West Maui community contributes to our success also. Every Luna is a ‘Luna for Life,’ and even after graduating they are still a part of the Lahainaluna family.

“Attending Lahainaluna was one of the most important decisions that my family could’ve made for me. Lahainaluna has driven me to do my best, and I am very thankful to the community and Lahainaluna for helping me attain my coal of attending college.”

Language Arts teacher Anne Goff, who has been a part of the high school lives of Lahainaluna graduates for 22 years and counting, offered this salute to the current class from her perspective as their advisor: “It has been my pleasure to work with this class of so many outstanding individuals who excelled in so many ways, including academic and athletic achievement.

“They continued the proud tradition of the Lahainaluna spirit and exemplified a unique relationship, as the whole class got along well with one another. I feel as an educator that they are ready for the change into the next step of their lives. Their parents and family should be proud of them.

Joanne Dennis has been the senior class administrator and, as a Lahainaluna vice principal, has seen tremendous growth and maturity within this class.

“It has surely been an adventure of growth over the last four years. From troubled ninth-graders, they have blossomed into wonderful seniors. Many have found their niche in life and discovered the talents that will take them through the next phase of their lives,” Dennis concluded.