The Class of 2018 celebrated its commencement ceremony on June 3 in The Cathedral of St. Andrew. The 26 young women wore white mu'umu'u and were adorned in haku and maile lei. 'Ohana, friends, faculty and staff, alumnae and clergy members packed the cathedral to witness the women receive their diplomas and become high school graduates.
Keeping with modern times, the Class of 2018 – affectionally nicknamed "Finding Seniors" – made several references to the movie "Finding Nemo" in speeches. The seniors choose "I'll Always Remember You" written by Mitch Allan and Jessica Alexander for their class song and the motto came from the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" – "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
The Class of 2018 also honored the past by celebrating Queen Emma Kaleleonālani, the school's founder, and made connections to its Episcopalian roots. The women sang "The Queen's Prayer" by Queen Lili'uokalani in honor of Queen Emma and her guiding vision for the school.
The evening opened with two oli and an invocation led by Rev. Annalise Pasalo, St. Andrew's chaplain. Jordan Jones gave the senior class president address, followed by Aliyah Abanes giving the outstanding senior scholar address.
"Through perseverance, each of us has found our calling after high school and we are very different people than we were at the beginning of this year," Jones said. "We went from drowning in an ocean of uncertainty to surfing on the waves of opportunity. Thank you to everyone who has poured into our lives and guided us through this amazing journey, including our families, friends, trustees, alumni, teachers and staff. Mahalo St. Andrew's for everything you have done for our class and for the many lessons we have learned here."
"While The Priory has cultivated the minds of our class, it has also enriched our souls and granted us a strong moral compass," Abanes said. "The vision of the school is 'to help children learn and grow, to be their personal best, engaged in the world and inspired to making it more humane and just.' We will never forget the friendships we have made here and The Priory will remain in our hearts.
"A strong moral compass and the willingness to follow it, as well as a generous heart is what defines a Priory grad in the real world. The Class of 2018's academic prowess in addition to Queen Emma's vision, which lives in our hearts and will go on to make the world a better place."
The graduating class then sang it's Hawaiian song, "Ka Wailele 'o Nu'uau" written by Jay Kauka. Ruth Fletcher, head of school – assisted by Nicole Field, upper school principal – gave her address to the Class of 2018. The two women read a personalized message for each graduate, highlighting their unique personalities and special strengths and talents. Fletcher also read a special congratulatory message from Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, a member of the Class of 1969.
"You are an extraordinary class," Fletcher told the graduates. "You are strong, capable and confident young women. You cheer for each other's successes and help each other when things get tough. We are proud of your integrity, your moral courage and your compassionate leadership.
"Our wish for you is that you live a rich life of faith, love, inquiry and service. That through your leadership, you guide humanity in the years to come."
Diplomas were then awarded and after the last was presented, the crowd erupted in jubilant cheers, praise and excitement. The seniors exited the cathedral and made their way to The Anderson Fountain to partake in the tradition of singing a final song while holding hands. The chosen song – "Count on Me" written by Bruno Mars – was enjoyed by the crowd before the women made their way to their designated area to receive congratulatory wishes from their guests and be adorned with floral and candy lei, headdresses and decorative items.
Congratulations, Class of 2018!