|Small town, big venue at the Robert Herkes Kaʻū District Gym for high school graduation last Friday. Photo by Julia Neal|
|Principal Sharon Beck presents the diplomas. Photo by Julia Neal|
Valedictorian Tayler Rasmussen's speech also captured this strength of Kaʻū people.
Beck explained the meaning of the Hawaiian words. 'A'ali'i is a native plant and ku makani means strong wind. The words "historically allude to the tough, independent nature of the people of Kaʻū and the beautiful tough land,"
|Family and friends portraits after|
the graduation. Photo by Julia Neal
"Graduates be proud of being from Kaʻū and be proud of the skills and resilience you have developed over the years. With the hard work of our teachers and staff, our students have had some amazing opportunities." Beck described the Career in Technical Education as a program that gives students’ real world 21st century skills in Arts and Communication, Business, Health Services, Industrial & Engineering Technology, Natural Resources and Public and Human Services. She noted that the state Department of Education "has a Goal for schools to have 68% of their graduation class to have completed a CTE program. Kaʻū High has surpassed that goal and has 77% of the class of 2023 completing a program."
Beck also explained the HOSA Future Health Professionals program at the school. It is a nationwide, student-led organization supported by the U.S. Department of Education and the Health Science Education Division of the Association for Career & Technical Education. "We have 16 seniors who are members with nine participating in the HOSA Competitions. Five made States and three not only qualified for States but qualified for the National Competition. HOSA students were able to complete the OSHA health certification, CPR
|Families and friends joined the graduates outside of the|
gym for the lei and balloons festivities. Photo by Julia Neal
Beck recognized students who have excelled in the visual arts. Kaira Pensula won an Honorable Mention for the youth division in this year's Hawai'i Nei exhibition, in addition to a Silver Key award in this year's Scholastics Art & Writing Competition. Crystal Quigley won one Gold Key and 2 Silver Key awards in this year's Scholastic Art & Writing Competition, and was awarded a scholarship by the Windward Artists Guild for these artworks. "Both Kaira and Crystal were also honored by the House of Representatives for their awards and exhibition in the Scholastic Art & Writing Competition by State Rep.
|Zane Rodriques and family after graduation.|
Photo by Julia Neal
The Principal noted that "Athletics is an important way for students to learn teamwork, goal setting, and how to manage their time to ensure they are keeping their grades in good standing. Thirty-four of our graduates are athletes." Athletic Director Jaime Guerpo announced the following awards: Male Scholar Athlete - Patrick Riehle, Male Senior Award - Collin Hanshew and Female Senior Award - Hulali HU La Lee Baji. Beck said that KHPES esports club provides students a safe environment to compete against other high school teams at the state and national level in competitive video games, such as League of Legends, Overwatch, Valorant, Rocket League, and Super Smash Brothers. Senior members include:Patrick Riehle, Marcky Tamayo, Ivan Ramos, Rylan Perlata, and Chloe Gabini. Together, they came in second place in the Vanta Hawai'i State High School Valorant Championships, losing to Castle High after defeating Iolani and Keaau in the
Future Farmers of America has been re- established at Kaʻū High this year, noted the Principal. "They were able to raise $5,000 in their fundraising to take students on three field trips and to the District and State Convention. Three seniors have completed a range of projects on our school farm. Kaʻū's chapter also secured a $500 scholarship for one of our seniors." She named standouts Collin Hanshew, ShaniaLee Silva, and Pomai.
|Graduates Alexis and Gabriel Miranda with their grandpa,|
who came to the U.S. years ago from El Salvador to seek
the American dream. The family has become successful
in Kaʻū Coffee farming and retail. Photo by Anita Miranda
Beck also noted an an agreement and partnership with Hawai'i Community College, Kaʻū High students are able to concurrently earn dual high school and college credits through the Dual Credit Program. Students enrolled in Spring 2023 courses were Caius Jenson, Crystal Quigley, ShalniaLee Silva, Kaira Pensula, Kawai Smith, Riley-Ann Brown, Hulali Baji, Catherine Quigley and Rutha Lamille.
Another component of education at the school is The Kaʻū Global Learning Lab Internship Program that Beck described as "internships/work-based learning with an expert mentor in a field of the student's interest; students complete an authentic experience that benefits both the student and the mentor's worksite." She pointed to four Student Interns, two Student Ag Workers, and Five Afterschool Student Tutors. She named Riley-Ann Brown, Caius Jenson, Candace Keohuloa, ShanaiLee Silva, Janice Kajiwara-Ke, Sean Ancheta, Rutha lamille, Catherine Quigley and Crystal Quigley.
Beck also announced two recipients of the new $800 Hawaii Civic Club of Kaʻū Memorial Scholarship in memory of Kupuna Jeanette Kaualani Akiu Howard. They are Candace Keoholua and Kawai Smith.
The Principal pointed to more student accomplishments and proclaimed to the class of 73 graduates, "Kaʻū High and Pāhala Elementary may be small but we are mighty."
Hawai‘i Police Department’s Traffic Services Section reviewed all updated crashes and found 327 major collisions so far this year compared with 297 during the same period last year, an increase of 10.1 percent.
To date, there have been eight fatal crashes, resulting in 9 fatalities, (one of which had multiple deaths); compared with 13 fatal crashes, resulting in 15 fatalities (one of which had multiple deaths) for the same time last year. This represents a decrease of 38.5 percent for fatal crashes, and 40 percent for fatalities.
DUI roadblocks and patrols will continue island wide, promises HPD.
On May 31 there will be a two- hour dance party from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Bring a dish to share. Bottled water, sodas and snacks will provided. Suggested donation of $10 per person for dancers, watchers, judges, photographers, eaters.