Hawaii Community College — Palamanui holds drive-through graduation

  • Matthew Buss turns his tassel after receiving his diploma at Hawaii Community College Palamanui’s drive-through graduation Saturday at the North Kona campus.

  • Raynette Kalei Haleamau-Kam, Interim Director, right, announces Sarah Brandt at Hawaii Community College Palamanui’s drive-through graduation Saturday at the North Kona campus. (Photos by Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Geninna Marie Caspillo turns her tassel at Hawaii Community College Palamanui’s drive-through graduation Saturday at the North Kona campus.

  • Evelyn Vences is surrounded by family at Saturday’s drive-through graduation at Hawaii Community College Palamanui. See more photos on page 10A. (Photos by Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Vehicles line the road as graduates wait to receive their diploma or certificate at the Hawaii Community College commencement ceremony Saturday.

  • Kapua Kaulia, and her daughter Loea finally get to attend graduation at Hawaii Community College Palamanui’s drive-through commencement ceremony on Saturday.

Hawaii Community College — Palamanui graduated 102 students this school year, with associate degrees and certificates in Hawaiian studies, natural science, culinary arts and other academic programs. But due to COVID-19, the in-person commencement ceremony that traditionally occurs in May was canceled.

On Saturday, about 30 students got the chance to don their caps and gowns for a drive-through ceremony.

Among this year’s graduates were four high school students from Kealakehe High School who earned their associate degrees through the early college program, which means they earned a college degree at the same time they earned their high school diploma. In addition, 12 high school students from Ehunuikaimalino, Kealakehe and Konawaena schools graduated with their Hawaii Lifestyles Academic Subject Certificates.

Interim director Raynette “Kalei” Haleamau-Kam said it was important to find a way to honor the students’ achievements, and do so safely.

“There is nothing more rewarding than having the opportunity to congratulate and honor our students at graduation,” said Haleamau-Kam. “I personally know how that feels, and I want nothing more than for our college graduates to receive the recognition and honor they deserve. On behalf of the Hawaii Community College administration, faculty and staff, we commend you for your resilience and perseverance through these challenging times.”

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