Members of this year’s graduating class received their diplomas Saturday at UH’s Stan Sheriff Center in a lively Commencement celebration. The evening was filled with uplifting speeches, a beautiful hula and joyous music performed by students.
The ceremony was last held at Stan Sheriff in 2019. For the past two years, seniors were celebrated on campus to accommodate pandemic restrictions.
Senior Class President Tate Goodman ’22 delivered a warm parting speech to classmates, telling them, “the connections we have made and the memories we will carry with us and cherish forever mean it’s not truly goodbye. You see, the time we’ve shared is what binds us, no matter where we venture in the world.”
Academy Principal Emily McCarren highlighted the incredible strength of the class in her address, sharing how the seniors managed to express gratitude even in the face of challenges. “These students, over and over again, showed us how much there is to learn – and how to find joy – in challenge and hardship,” she said. “The last few years have presented enough challenges for a lifetime, and this was just high school for them. They have known no other reality and they have come out of these years hardened, and strong.” It was a wonderful farewell to the class before McCarren departs Punahou to head Keystone Academy in Beijing.
President Mike Latham ’86 offered valuable advice for the class as they head off to college, encouraging them to deepen their sense of empathy and accountability. “Take advantage of the college setting to get to know people with backgrounds and experiences very different than your own,” he said. “You will be surprised what you might discover you have in common. Expose yourself to challenging ideas and arguments, including those that you disagree with or find hard to understand. You may not change what you believe, but you may gain a better sense of why others think as they do, and ultimately find a shared language or common vocabulary for understanding.”
After the speeches, Deans Christine David and Jonah Ka‘akua ’97 presented the Class of 2022, with each member walking up on stage to receive their diploma.
The ceremony ended with the class singing “O‘ahu a” followed up by a spirited “Strawberry Shortcake.” In a heartwarming moment, seniors gave lei and hugs to their family members who were seated in the audience, before exiting to greet guests outside.
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