PUEO Scholars Celebrate Graduation

Torrential rain and epic entryway waterfalls did nothing to dampen the high spirits of the scholars from The Clarence T.C. Ching PUEO Program Class of 2024 who gathered at the President’s Pavilion on May 16 to celebrate their graduation from high school and announce their college destinations. Scholars received PUEO certificates and many were also awarded scholarships from the Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation and Rev. Abraham Akaka Ministries Foundation.

President Mike Latham ’86; PUEO director Kehau Kealoha-Scullion ’80; representatives from The Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation, Takitani Foundation and Akaka Foundation; PUEO faculty, as well as friends and parents, attended the event to honor the graduates. 

The Clarence T. C. Ching PUEO Program (Partnerships in Unlimited Educational Opportunities) offers public school students with a seven-year scholarship that provides academic and enrichment classes for five weeks during the summer and at selected meetings during the school year.

A program expansion in 2023 and 2024 to include grades 4 and 5 will extend the program to nine summers and bring the number of students each summer to 250 in grades 4 –12 representing more than 60 public and private schools. PUEO launched in 2005, graduating its first class in 2012. Since then, more than 500 students have graduated from the program.

Most of the students in the class of 2024 have been with the program for the full seven years, and though representing schools all over the island, they share a close bond. Amid the hugs, haku and lei, they shared their stories of surviving the virtual and hybrid challenges of the pandemic, and maintaining a focus on their college aspirations and their commitment to PUEO. 

Sky Louch from Halau Ku Mana Charter School represented his class of ’24 classmates in thanking PUEO for the summer experiences. The students gathered following the ceremony to reprise their class anthem – “Lean On Me” – as the evening ended in bittersweet farewells. 

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