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Lahainaluna High School Class of 2020 to graduate on Sunday

By Staff | May 21, 2020

The “Papa 2020 o ke Kula Kaiapuni ‘o Lahainaluna” are, from left, Enoka O La’i Phillips, Daelisa Kaiwi Westbrooks, Nainoa Kulukulualani-Sales, Josephine Leihuanani Fraser and Kaliakeanukoakilakilaoka’imiloa Chance McCabe.

LAHAINA – Lahainaluna High School’s graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 24, will mark a milestone for the historic school and focal point of the West Maui community.

The first five seniors – Enoka O La’i Phillips, Daelisa Kaiwi Westbrooks, Nainoa Kulukulualani-Sales, Josephine Leihuanani Fraser and Kaliakeanukoakilakilaoka’imiloa Chance McCabe – will graduate from the Hawaiian language immersion program Kula Kaiapuni ‘o Lahainaluna.

The commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 will be held on Sunday evening (see sidebar).

The Class of 2020 is led by an impressive group of 14 Valedictorians with Academic Honors: Rory Delaney, Eddymar Ben Cabading, Sukaryo Heilscher, Hailey Bogar, Ryli Cherry, Veronica Lara Jacobo, Deolian Domawa, Nalu Ho, Kailee Badua, Ciana Lins, Shanel Nae Mangaoang, Anjanette Patricia Aveno, James Fujii and Challys Pascual.

For teacher Kauilikoleialoha Spitalsky, the first Kula Kaiapuni ‘o Lahainaluna graduating class marks the return of Hawaiian language instruction at the historic school.

“Honoring the five students as our very first graduating class of Kula Kaiapuni ‘o Lahainaluna is indeed a historical moment for all of Hawai’i nei,” she noted.

Known as the “oldest school west of the Rocky Mountains” and founded in 1831, Lahainaluna originally taught all of its subjects through the medium of Hawaiian language, graduating some of the most prestigious Hawaiian scholars and politicians, Spitalsky explained.

“It was here that our very first printing press at Hale Pa’i published our newspapers and stories in the Hawaiian language that are currently implemented in kaiapuni programs across the state,” she added.

“These five students represent the achievement of a lahui and a community who persevered to return Hawaiian language instruction to this historical school of Lahainaluna. The graduating kaiapuni Class of 2020 are affirmation of our school’s motto, ”O keia ke kukui pio ‘ole i ka makani ‘o Kaua’ula,’ that we are the everlasting flame of enlightenment.”

Spitalsky holds these students close to her heart, as they were her very first class she taught when she moved here in 2013.

They were in the sixth grade at that time at Kula Kaiapuni ‘o Nahi’ena’ena. This was the first and only year Princess Nahi’ena’ena Elementary School offered sixth grade immersion instruction, as these students continued on to the kaiapuni program at Lahaina Intermediate School in the following year.

At LIS, the parents and teachers pushed to offer a kaiapuni program for grades 6-8, and they continued planning to open the program at Lahainaluna with this special class as the frontiers.

“As the students and I were reunited in 2016, now at the high school, we all knew that there was much work to be done. We needed to increase their cultural and Hawaiian language knowledge as well as increase their proficiency in English to be college-ready,” the kumu explained.

“The students and I began our very first week to create our program goals together. It was evident that their achievements and struggles would set precedence for upcoming kaiapuni classes. Therefore, I believed in the history of Lahainaluna School and strived to teach as many subjects as possible through the medium of Hawaiian language, only sending the students out to English classes for math and one elective,” she continued.

“It was a brand new experience for all of us, including the school, as I met with school administration and staff for many hours to create the program from scratch.”

As the only kumu kaiapuni at this school for three years, Spitalsky said these five students played an imperative role.

She had to teach all subjects, except for math and one elective, to two, then three, grade levels.

“We had to be creative and understanding, as these five students were pushed to leaders and role models to the underclassmen without having peer leaders to lead them,” she noted.

“I countlessly relied on them to help me and guide the underclassmen; as ‘hiapo,’ or the oldest child of the household, they had a lot of ‘kuleana.’ The experience has definitely allowed me to learn, especially from them, to be innovative and open-minded in order to achieve our academic, cultural and Hawaiian language goals.”

Spitalsky was humbled to be recognized as the “Teacher of the Year” for the Canoe Complex (Lahaina, Hana, Lana’i and Moloka’i), acknowledging the demanding work of a kaiapuni teacher.

“Through this journey, the students and I grew together, and our relationships and roles as kumu to haumana sometimes get mixed-up, and sometimes I get referred to as aunty, counselor or friend. No matter what, we are definitely ‘ohana, and our experiences together, including this quarantine, is something that we will always share,” Spitalsky commented.

Kaiapuni graduation is focused on the cultural traditions of ceremony, so it is usually separate from the high school’s graduation commencement exercises.

Spitalsky and the students have been meeting virtually for the past four weeks to decide how they can fulfill ceremonial traditions in light of the quarantine.

The five students have been very clear that they want to do something together as a whole.

Lahainaluna’s seniors are collaborating with sister school Kula Kaiapuni ‘o Kekaulike to honor all the kaiapuni graduates of Maui at an event called Puni Ka Mauli o Maui on June 20.

“We are excited for this ceremony, as it is planned for June 20th, 2020, ka Mauiki’iki’i, or summer solstice, the longest day of the summer. This is symbolically influential, as kaiapuni educators look to the sun as being in the era of enlightenment. In fact, we usually hold ceremonies of ascension or rites of passage at high noon, or kaulolo, when the sun is directly overhead and no shadows are seen,” she said.

Lahainaluna’s haumana and makua also expressed their wish to honor the school, feeding schools and community of Lahaina, so they are still committed to hold a ceremony at Lahainaluna High School.

Likely to be held when school reopens in August, the event will include all the haumana, kumu and ‘ohana of Na Kula Kaiapuni ‘o Lahaina.

There are 22 students currently enrolled in Kula Kaiapuni ‘o Lahainaluna from grades 9-12.

They expect eight kaiapuni students to enter from Lahaina Intermediate School in the 2020-21 school year, as well as kaiapuni students from other schools who intend on enrolling in the LHS boarding program.

Helped by Advisors Andrew Huesinkvelt and Cornilio Ancheta, the Senior Class Officers are President Jayden Paz, Vice President Marc Huliganga, Secretary Jonah Cordova, Treasurer Alexander Rodriguez and Malia Kaufononga (Leadership).

The 2019-20 LHS Senior Boarding Department Officers are President Shannon Aguinaido, Vice President Leilani Esperanza and Girls’ Captain Abigail Sandi.

Seniors graduating with Academic Honors Recognition Certificates include David Paul S. Advincula, Alexis K. Anderson, Anjanette Patricia L. Aveno, Hailey R. Bogar, William K. Bookland, Eddymar Ben Cabading, Ryli R. Cherry, Chiarra J. Clark, Shaleena Cole, Makena L. Cowan, Rory A. Delaney, Deolian Domawa, Nanea Estrella, Neysha Fuentes, James M. Fujii, Marichris Guerrero, Sukaryo R. Heilscher, Nalu Ho, Keoni Y. Jimenez, Lily A. Kamaunu, Alana P. Koa, Veronica Lara Jacobo, Ciana Lins, Bohemian Mhay Lunes, Shanel Nae Mangaoang, Dominic A. Manzano, Challys C. Pascual, Jayden Marc Paz, Nalani E. Sampson, Venus J. Schlauch, Khyle Marie N. Simon, Althea M. Tejero and Isabella M. Theobald.

Seniors graduating with Summa Cum Laude honors are David Paul S. Advincula, Anjanette Patricia L. Aveno, Kailee Badua, Hailey R. Bogar, William K. Bookland, Brianna Joy D. Burgos, Eddymar Ben Cabading, Ryli R. Cherry, Makena L. Cowan, Rory A. Delaney, Deolian Domawa, Matt Jess Domingo, Leilani C. Esperanza, Neysha Fuentes, James M. Fujii, Halohna Gaoiran, Marichris Guerrero, Sukaryo R. Heilscher, Nalu Ho, Aedrian T. Ingan, Keoni Y. Jimenez, Veronica Lara Jacobo, Ciana Lins, Shanel Nae Mangaoang, Dominic A. Manzano, Jeremiah McCall, Aulvin Moats, Challys C. Pascual, Jayden Marc Paz, Kesha M. Pierson, Sherlin Mae B. Ravida, Brian G. Sandoval, Venus J. Schlauch, Khyle Marie N. Simon, Calvin Jay Supnet, Althea M. Tejero and Isabella M. Theobald.

Class of 2020 members graduating with Magna Cum Laude honors include Jireh Alega, Noa D. Bauchman, Kaleb M. Borromeo, Sierra L. Carney, Melody A. Casco De Leon, Jonah Mae Cordova, Kim Jazzlyn P. Daulong, Nicole Dela Cruz, Lorieanne Domingo, Nanea Estrella, Samiuela A. Fifita, Jayelyn K. Finn-Imamoto, Jaylani M. Fujita, Asher Erwin I. Garcia, Hector Garcilazo, Kaiana Kahahane-Barker, Lily A. Kamaunu, Nikolas Kron, Ryan A. Matias, Justice Perreira-Aquino, Sierra Shaw, Alexis C. Tamayo, Kaiulani A. Tanner and Owen C. Wegner.

Seniors graduating with Cum Laude honors include Kailee M. Aickin, Kenneth Romlen B. Alba, Alexis K. Anderson, Marvie Bandayrel, Fe Clarydhel Basug, Rysher Royce P. Belen, Jake K. Bell, Vince P. Buenafe, Melanie Cailao, Kekailoa I. Cajudoy, Chelsea Clarion, Chiarra J. Clark, Shaleena Cole, Caitlin Lyrics Concepcion, Kristin L. Costa-Dizon, Kaya A. Emeson, Sandra Esparza, Renee Mae F. Estillore, Johann A. Flores, Jasmin M. Fujita, Shaelyn A. Gamit-Nava, Taylor Ganer, Logan E. Hanohano, Ryan Incillo, Malino V. Jacinto, Kayla A. Juan, Shayla M. Kanemitsu, Malia V. Kaufononga, Alana P. Koa, Tuipulotu Lai, Siranny J. Lopez, Bohemian Mhay Lunes, Kaliakeanukoakilakilaoka’imiloa C. McCabe, Maximus B. McKay, Kapuaimilia Nakoa, Malia Paulino, Aaron J. Peneyra II, Vai S. Pua, Czerny Joy Pulido, Jayson Isaiah P. Pulido, Anjenette Rabe, Matthew R. Rabino, Nicole Salvatera, Nalani E. Sampson, Abigail L. Sandi, Keahi K. Shim, Sophia R. Sobel, Izaiah K. Stephens, Joshua Tihada, Razel Joy V. Tique, Willa Regina M. Varquez, Angel Lynn Yabo and Via Nyra G. Yabo.

Seniors graduating with a Seal of Biliteracy include Anjanette Patricia L. Aveno, Kim Jazzlyn P. Daulong, Deolian Domawa, Neysha Fuentes, Siranny J. Lopez, Kaliakeanukoakilakilaoka’imiloa C. McCabe, Czerny Joy Pulido, Anjenette Rabe, Brian G. Sandoval, Khyle Marie N. Simon, Althea M. Tejero and Razel Joy V. Tique.

Class of 2020 National Honor Society members include David Advincula (Treasurer), Anjanette Aveno, Hailey Bogar, Eddy Cabading (President), Ryli Cherry, Makena Cowan, Nicole Dela Cruz (Secretary), Deolian Domawa, Veronica Lara (Vice President), Ciana Lins, Shanel Mangaoang (Historian), Challys Pascual, Jayden Paz, Alexis Tamayo, Althea Tejero and Isabella Theobald.