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Graduate Presents Gift of Aloha to Her Classmates at 2018 Commencement

June 03, 2018
By Susan Trower

The class of 2018 in the staging room before graduation - Espen Swanson photoThe West Sound Academy community - faculty, friends and family of the Class of 2018 - came to the House of Awakened Culture in Suquamish on May 25 to celebrate the school's 17th annual commencement. The graduates represented a diverse group: international student graduates from China, Vietnam and France, and some domestic students who had lived in other states before settling in Kitsap: Pennsylvania, Texas, Hawaii. All of these students, representing such different cultures and backgrounds, were thrilled to be at this celebration and acknowledgement of their achievements.

Jenna-lin Tabisola giving leis to her classmates, assisted by WSA Head of School Barrie Hillman - Espen Swanson photoJenna-lin Tabisola, originally from Hawaii, began the evening's ceremonies with a presentation of gifts from her family to each of her fellow classmate: fabric leis, in West Sound Academy's school colors. Tabisola's mother, Jennifer Komatsu, made the leis from "yards and yards of satin"; the entire project took several months to complete. Tabisola explained the significance of the gift.

Jenna-lin Tabisola giving a lei to her classmate, Yanli Zhang - Espen Swanson photo    "The Hawaiian word "Aloha" means love, mercy, compassion, hello and goodbye. It is a word that has to do with deep feelings and emotions. Giving a lei as a gift expresses the same meaning as "Aloha". A lei traditionally shows honor and love and is an extra special gift, as it carries not only a blessing and tangible beauty, but also represents the giving of time. We give these to the graduates to show our feelings of love and appreciation and in recognition for their hard work. Like a ring, a lei has no beginning or end, symbolizing your part of the West Sound experience. [West Sound] is a place you can always call home and a place that will always welcome you back."

Barrie Hillman, West Sound Academy's Head of School, gave assistance as Tabisola gave each of the graduates a lei. Then Randy Komatsu, the graduate's father, came up to the dais carrying his younger daughter Rielly so that the little girl could give a matching lei to her sister.


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Posted in Special Events