Class of ’53 Alum Returns to Address 2017 Grads

Frances H. Kakugawa
Published with Permission

Editor’s note: Pähoa School alum and Hawai‘i Herald columnist Frances Kakugawa was invited to deliver the commencement address for her alma mater’s Class of 2017 graduating class. The school graduated about 75 students in ceremonies held May 21 at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo. Frances shared the text of her speech with me and, with her permission, I am sharing it with you.

Ah, Thomas Wolfe, you can go home again.

Sixty-three years ago, I sat in the bleachers in the old Pähoa School gym to receive my diploma. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be standing here. Class of 2017 . . . thank you for this honor and for bringing me home again.

To you, the graduating class, to parents, grandparents, families and friends, teachers and staff of Pähoa School and to our distinguished guests, it’s a privilege to be addressing you today.

I’m feeling very close to my years at Pähoa School, so instead of the usual commencement speeches on how this is the first day of the rest of your life kind of talk, I’m going to tell you about all the dumb and stupid things I did and how they became the most important lessons. They were the ones that really took me down the road I’ve traveled since my high school years.

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