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Class of 2013 grew from ‘rascals’ to mature, distinguished group

By Staff | May 23, 2013

Congratulations to the Lahainaluna High School Class of 2013, which graduated on Sunday evening. Here, senior Kapualani Lum performs an opening oli. Turn to pages 14-17 for pictures of the class.

LAHAINA – There will be no doubt that the rich tradition of Lahainaluna High School will be carried forth by the graduating Class of 2013. The unmistakable spirit – the torch of brightness that was lit in 1831 – shone through as never before as the 225 strong walked the line in the sunset hues that embraced the campus’ Boarder’s Field last Sunday, May 19.

High school graduation in Hawaii carries with it an emotional affection unique to the cultural and ethnic blend of these islands, and on Maui – particularly at Lahainaluna – this aloha, this breath of love, brings forth a shared warmth and tenderness that indeed manifests the heart and soul of the West Side community and beyond.

The 225 of 2013 that walked in the glorious breezes of twilight at the base of Pu’u Pa’u Pa’u, or Mount Ball, overlooked by the giant “L” on the hillside blessed with the spiritual grave site of one of the school’s first graduates and Hawaiian patriot icon, David Malo, thus received their diplomas to join the rite of passage of their predecessors to pay forward the character of Lahainaluna.

Nearly half of them will attend colleges or universities, pursue technical career training or join the military. According to Lahainaluna Career and College Guidance Counselor Kristy Arakawa, they will be bolstered by the generosity and foresight of organizations and businesses that will give the graduating class a record amount of $2.3 million in scholarships and grants to further their education, to indeed pay forward the torch of excellence of Lahainaluna.

This ethic of virtue is perhaps most evident in the comments of Class of 2013 Valedictorians Vincent Magno, Haley Robb, Julian Bel-Robert, Makenna Stockham and Bailey Pendergast.

“By attending Lahainaluna, I have created lifelong friendships and received the guidance and education to mature into a diligent individual,” Magno said.

“The bonds I have formed with the students and staff have uncovered unfathomable opportunities that have made impacting and unforgettable impressions, lessons and memories. I truly feel blessed for the knowledge and experiences I have gained through attending this prestigious school. Because of Lahainaluna, because of the obstacles I have faced with my loving fellow peers, and because of the supportive staff and administration, I am where I stand today,” he continued.

The memories I have made, the hardships I have endured and the compassionate love I have received from Lahainaluna has molded me into the finest scholar I could possibly be. Lahainaluna created an environment that motivated me to persevere through my hardships and enjoy my surroundings, altering my overall attitude and perception on life. Its environment is phenomenally positive and high-spirited, allowing students to express their individuality. Graduating from Lahainaluna has made me realize that I have been blessed with the opportunity of attending what I believe is the greatest school on Earth. Thank you to the students, staff and administration of Lahainaluna for the love, support and commitment you have displayed throughout my four years of high school.”

“Lahainaluna High School is filled with tradition, culture, school spirit, but most of all, this school has an abundance of pride. I haven’t met anyone who takes more pride in their school than the staff, students and alumni of Lahainaluna. We are a community with a long history and strong tradition. Lahainaluna also serves as a support system in which we lean on each other and help one another accomplish our goals. Although we only spend four years here, we will always be a part of the Lahainaluna community. There is a sense of nostalgia as we depart this terrific school. It has given so much to me, and I am proud to be a student of Lahainaluna,” Robb commented.

“Lahainaluna has provided me with opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. This year, I was able to contribute to real research, a luxury reserved for college students. Through my advanced biotechnology class under Mr. Cornell, I worked with the Whale Trust Organization to analyze whale blubber samples. Since these procedures took longer than the average class period, I would stay after school or come up on weekends. Mr. Cornell, like most teachers at Lahainaluna, gave his extra time and effort to provide me with this incredible experience. To make this happen, Dr. Valkirs and Makana Aloha Foundation donated our lab equipment. This is just one example where community members who are not directly affiliated with Lahainaluna see the value of our school and generously contribute to it. The staff and community members just want to see us succeed, and I hope we can make them proud this graduation,” Robb concluded.

“Attending Lahainaluna created four years of awesome memories. I spent it with amazing people, bright teachers, and at a historic school. I consider myself lucky to now be a Lahainaluna alum. Going to Lahainaluna meant that I went to a school where pride is everything. Whenever asked where I attended high school, I’ll be proud to answer Lahainaluna,” Bel-Robert said.

“Lahainaluna created a strong sense of pride that I don’t think I feel about anything else. The spirit of the school has washed over me, and I don’t know where else this pride or spirit exists. It overflows into the town of Lahaina, where everyone is affiliated and proud. This indelible feeling is something special that I could never possibly lose.”

“Attending Lahainaluna High School means everything to me. I am so very fortunate to have ended up in such a unique place filled with history and spirited people. I will never forget all the memories I’ve made, the lessons I’ve learned and all the amazing opportunities that have come from attending this school,” Stockham said.

“Through the ups and downs, attending Lahainaluna has shaped me as a person. My senior project made me more passionate about flight. My AP classes made me excited about college and all the classes I have yet to take. My involvement with leadership activities made me more confident and better at public speaking. I have to work for it. And, most of all, attending Lahainaluna taught me to seize every opportunity I’m given, no matter how small. Attending Lahainaluna has changed me for the better, and I wouldn’t be where I am in life if it weren’t for this one-of-a-kind high school.”

“To many, Lahainaluna High School is just that: a high school. However, to those who have attended it, past and present, it is so much more. To sum up the entirety of the Lahainaluna experience in one word is near impossible, but if one must, the word that comes to mind is ‘community.’ Community is as ingrained into the very fiber of Lahainaluna, just as one family sticks together as one ohana, and it is this sense of togetherness that sets our school apart from all others. We all stand or we all fall, and we’ve been standing since 1831. That is what Lahainaluna has always represented to me; it’s been a home to share with all my classmates and peers – a place where I could learn under the benevolent gaze of my community,” said Pendergast.

“Attending Lahainaluna has been one of the most significant events of my life. It has forever changed the way I go throughout my life. I see the world around me now in terms of service, and how I can be of help to the surrounding community. Attending Lahainaluna has opened my eyes to cultures and people that have now become an integral part of my character. I am stronger knowing the people I know and having learned the material I’ve been taught. With an education from Lahainaluna under my belt, I’m not afraid to face the impending doom of the ‘real world,’ because I know that I will always have my family back at Lahainaluna and the surrounding community to fall back on for support. That means the world to me; to know that I have the full support of my community. Lahainaluna has gifted that to me. I am grateful to all the teachers and staff on behalf of the Class of 2013, for they taught us well and made our graduation possible,” Pendergast concluded.

Vice Principal Joanne Dennis, a senior class advisor, was left with an impression of marked maturity within the Class of 2013.

“These kids grew in all aspects of their high school life in these four years here at Lahainaluna. They were rascals as freshmen and sophomores, but grew as individuals to become strong and talented as a united class. They matured so much and distinguished themselves academically, athletically and in many state competitions. Of the 225 graduates, 145 of them completed career pathway programs, 11 earned grade point averages above 4.0, 11 had 4.0 GPAs, and 30 had a GPA of 3.5 to 3.9. We wish them all the best and want them to know we are very proud of them,” Dennis said.