Graduation Journey – Before, During, After



On May 21, McKinley High School held a commencement ceremony for the graduating class of 2023. As air horns cried and balloons soared on that hot, sunny day—the small, yet mighty class consisting of 309 seniors crossed the oval. 

The ceremony started with the pledge of allegiance and the singing of Hawai’i Pono’i, led by song leader, Gene Yamashita. 

Throughout the ceremony, there were three speeches given. The topics of each speech were Past, Present and Future. Every year, the commencement ceremony follows this prompt tradition. 

The first speech, Past, was given by Kiana Lovie Hung, the senior class Vice President. 

“Well, the past is history,” Hung said. “What’s behind us can also be the people who literally stood behind us with us every step of the way.”

The second speech, Present, was given by Reece Lapas, the student body’s first Vice President. 

“It’s really easy for me to tell you that the most important day of our lives right here is something that you should pay attention to,” Lapas said. “There’s a lot of noise sometimes in our lives. That takes a lot of effort to cut through. So humor me for a second, let’s try to ground ourselves. Let’s do it together.”

The last speech, Future, was given by Desiree Leigh Agustin, the student body President.

“And while I want to say that our futures are set in stone, they aren’t,” Agustin said. “Our past four years will inform us of our future, and that has been anything but ordinary.”

In between the three speeches, the senior class sang two songs. It is tradition for the graduating class to sing as they are accompanied by the band. The senior class chose these two songs to represent their four years of high school.

The first song, “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers was led by song leader Theresa McMurray. The second song, “Today My Life Begins” by Bruno Mars was led by song leader Puipui Faletoi, Jr.

Every year to give back to McKinley High School, the senior class presents a gift dedicated to the school. This year the class decided to give the Student Activity Center a lock and storage unit. Senior class Vice President Hung presented this gift.

So to extend the storage space from only in SAC, we decided to give a storage unit and lock so the student government can continue to create and build deep-rooted memories with the entire student body”

The senior class President, Nyler Acasio, led the tassel-turning ceremony. This was then followed by their last singing of Black and Gold, led by song leader Serena Perey Ratonel, and Alma Mater, led by song leader Abcdee Gauthreaux. 

The traditional tiger chant was led by Nyler Acasio and Jaena Velasco. In unison, they roared their graduating year and the words “Tiger Pride.”

After four years of high school, the graduating class of 2023 was awarded their diplomas and finally crossed the oval.

Their class vision is, “Through spirited energy and active participation, the class of 2023 will build deep-rooted memories.”