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Six valedictorians lead LHS Class of 2016

By Staff | May 26, 2016

Graduation this year was moved from Boarders' Field to the new Sue D. Cooley Stadium on the Lahainaluna High School campus. PHOTO BY GLEN PASCUAL.

LAHAINA – The common thread at the core of the graduating Lahainaluna High School Class of 2016, and in the stones set in the pathway to the future of these young adults, is deep emotional reference to “we the community.” The heartfelt message resounds through the decades of graduates from the historic setting at the foothills of Pu’u Pa’u Pa’u, Mount Ball, as the glorious “L” along with the gravesite of David Malo – one of Lahainaluna’s first graduates and community leaders – rests as a guardian beam above the campus.

The six valedictorians of the Class of 2016’s 185 graduates, who walked the line Sunday evening to receive their diplomas for the first time in Lahainaluna’s sparkling new Sue D. Cooley Stadium on campus (the ceremony was traditionally held on Boarders’ Field), expressed their emotions on attending the oldest public high school west of the Rocky Mountains.

“When I moved here seven years ago from the Philippines, I was scared of having to adjust to a new life and having to meet new people. Going to Lahainaluna, I didn’t just meet new friends, I was able to become a part of a new family – a family that ensured our future. A family that made sure I was doing everything the best that I could do. A family that helped me go through all the ups and downs of high school,” said Christian Mae Yagyagan.

“When I was in elementary school, I had the opportunity to move to a different country to finish my development. At only eight years old, I identified Lahaina as my home and Lahainaluna as the school I wanted to be a part of. It has truly been an honor to attend this loving, historic school and soon to be called alumni,” said Anis Bel.

“My family has always been a part of Lahainaluna High School. So, going here isn’t just anything. It means passing on a legacy from my mom, several uncles and aunties, and many cousins – ultimately bringing us together at this place that’s shaped and instilled values in a good part of the beginning of our lives,” said Jasmyn Swangel.

“Lahaina has been my home for the past 18 years, and it is such an honor to be named one of Lahainaluna’s valedictorians. Nowhere in the world can compare to this town from its sports, school, community and people. I will take this spirit of Lahaina wherever life may take me in the future,” said Kaylee Harmon.

“Attending Lahainaluna has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today. The endless support from my classmates, teachers and the community has always encouraged me to strive for excellence and inspired me to give back to the community. It has provided me with countless opportunities and connections that will be a great help in the future. Graduating from Lahainaluna would mean that I have been instilled with values, beliefs and the spirit from a special community with a rich history and people who have close ties with one another. To be able to graduate from this school is a privilege, and I am proud to say I am a graduate of Lahainaluna High School,” said Kathleen Joy Yagyagan.

“Going to Lahainaluna has been an unforgettable experience to say the least. Nestled in Lahaina, our school has always been the beneficiary of continuous community support, which helped us all grow as better people and community members. Whether it was through community service, or mentorships, or scholarships, our community has always been there for us. By graduating, we not only celebrate our own personal achievements, but also the achievements of those who have gotten us to where we want to be. Graduating from Lahainaluna means that we have put in the work, and now will continue Lahainaluna’s long history for striving for higher education,” said Mike Nguyen.

These six valedictorians will lead the Lahainaluna Class of 2016’s Honor Roll graduates – 82 strong – into a promising future in higher education. Several others will continue on into careers in the military, trade schools and local industry positions.

In all, this graduating class will receive just under $2,000,000 in scholarship aid.

Academic Honors Certificate recipients in the Class of 2016 are Joanna Aceret, Jaric Carlin Balmores, Anis Bel, Dylan Michael Berzabal, Blaine Casil, Bridgette Cuaresma, Michael Doan, Yochabel Domingo, Kamal-Craig Golaube, August Guest, Sharmaine Gutierrez, Ericson Lago, Emerald Lynch, Calen Matsuda, Mike Nguyen, Dean Omura, Haylee Patch, Fritz Ruiz Jr., Michael Serafica, Jasmyn Swangel, Caylyn Villatora, Kathleen Joy Yagyagan and Christian Mae Yagyagan.

Class advisor Laura Jones bid farewell to the graduates in saying, “Congratulations on graduating, and I know you will do great things in the next chapter of your lives. Continue to make good choices and make Lahainaluna proud to call you their Class of 2016.”