Monthly Archives: August 2013

Inaugural Alumni Association Newsletter

The first edition of the King Kekaulike High School Alumni Association Newsletter is here! Check it out!


Here are a few of the features:
– Launching Our Alumni Association
– SAVE THE DATE: Homecoming 2013
– Alumni Spotlight: Garrett Yamada
– Inside Kekaulike: Joebelle Bonete
– New Auditorium for Campus
– Welcome Class of 2017
– Alumni to Watch: Kreig Kihara
– Class of 2013 Factoids

Ka Leo o Na Alii_Edition 1_Final-1

New auditorium for campus

The Hawaii State Legislature during its 2013 session allocated $14,491,000 for the design and construction of a new King Kekaulike auditorium.  The auditorium has been part of King Kekaulike’s master plan since the school opened in 1995 and will serve as a learning center for visual and performing arts.  The facility will be located on what is now an open area north of the main entrance, between the administration building and football field.

The estimated cost of the project is $29 million for phase-one and $13 million for phase-two.  Phase one includes a 400-seat, 22,000 square-foot performance facility with a lobby, house, stage and back-of-house support functions.  The second calls for building a nearly 12,300-square-foot “black box” space for free-form performances, instructional areas and administrative offices.

Funding for the project must be “released” by the governor.  In hopes to move the project forward, the alumni association will be lobbying Governor Abercrombie, requesting his consideration for the funding to be released. Design funds of approximately $600,000 already have been allocated for initial design of the project’s first phase.


Alumni Spotlight: Garrett Yamada, DPT, OCS


As a member of the Class of 1999, Garrett Yamada has a unique connection to the King Kekaulike campus.  He was a part of many firsts, from being the first to enter campus, a member of the first junior varsity and varsity football and baseball teams, first to eat in the cafeteria, a member of the first graduating class, and is one of Kekaulike’s first doctors.

Shaping the way for Kekaulike and its traditions was not always easy but there was always a sense of camaraderie.  “It was easy to get to know and interact closely with a good core of people – everyone would watch over one another,” explains Yamada.

That first year was exceptionally memorable but not because of the new facilities.  Yamada got particularly close to one of his fellow classmates and jokingly reminisces, “I met this hot chick in freshman year, copied her homework, and eventually made her my wife.”  Lynn Kajihara was that classmate, who today, has returned to her alma mater as a science teacher.

As they selected where to attend college they received some good advice.  “Our parents influenced us to leave Maui and grow up.  So we did,” said Yamada.  They both attended Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon and amazingly, both majored in exercise science.  After Garrett received his undergraduate degree, he decided to become a physical therapist and credits his experiences at Kekaulike with his career choice.  “It was during a football injury in high school that introduced me to physical therapy and sparked my interest in the subject,” he said.  Yamada selected the University of Puget Sound in Washington State to continue his studies and graduated in 2006 with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy.

After graduation, Garrett and Lynn decided to return home to Maui and wed in 2006, over 12 years after first meeting on campus.  Yamada, in his usual fun manner continues, “I am now a doctor and am smarter than her [Lynn], for real, which is confirmed by my degree,” as he laughs.

Yamada has come a long way since his days of high school homework.  He is now a full-time therapist at Elite Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine in Makawao, and recently became an Orthopedic Certified Specialist.

Garrett and Lynn have two children, Cade (5) and Kendyll (3), and together have become important fixtures in the King Kekaulike community.  Crediting a combination of KKHS faculty, parental guidance, and strong community support for his achievements, Yamada is now doing his part to help perpetuate the success of Kekaulike students.   He spends countless hours giving back by mentoring students, helping to form the KKHS Alumni Association, judging senior projects, and allowing students interested in physical therapy to shadow him in action.

Yamada continues to lead the way of Kekaulike firsts and before we know it, his entire family of four may be the first to proudly call themselves all Kekaulike alumni.

Alumni to Watch: Architect Kreig Kihara

Kreig KiharaKing Kekaulike can add another doctor to its list of notable alumnus. Kreig Kihara, a 2006 graduate, received his Doctorate in Architecture from the University of Hawaii at Manoa this past spring. The journey however, was not an easy one.

An architectural degree takes seven long years along with an internship and final thesis. Kihara, always looking for an adventure, decided to complete his required internship with an architectural firm in Shanghai, China. “For five months, I learned a ton about architecture, but it can’t compare to what I gained outside the office,” Kihara shared. He traveled to multiple cities, and worked through the complexity of the Chinese language. Jokingly he states, “when I first moved to China, I had the language equivalency of ordering at Panda Express.” He quickly learned the nuances of the language and continued to joke, “I do pride myself in acquiring enough Chinese language skills that I can now fluently order at Dragon Dragon…that’s a big upgrade.”

Studying abroad proved to be one of the most humbling and eye-opening experiences for Kihara, “I felt very fortunate to have the opportunity of living in an environment so different from Hawaii.” He experienced many aspects of China’s unique culture and his time spent aboard will no doubt help him to become a global minded architect.

With his official schooling behind him, Kihara is now eager for a change of pace. “I am enjoying not having to worry about homework or exams for pretty much the first time in my life.”

But, the constant studying and long-hours will not end anytime soon. Kihara was recently hired at a Honolulu-based architecture firm as an architectural designer, working on many exciting, up and coming projects. His job will help him to prepare for a seven-part examination that now stands between him and the official title of architect.

The process may sound daunting, but going the extra mile is something Kihara has come to expect. Whether working behind the counter at his family run store in Keokea, in the classroom, on the soccer field or even now at his current job, Kihara credits KKHS with instilling within him important values that has led him to success.

“There will always be homework, tests, strict teachers, and if you’re lucky like us, chicken for lunch. Yet what set KKHS apart, in addition to a solid educational foundation, was the emphasis placed on the value of hard work.” Kihara learned at KKHS that there aren’t many things that can replace the outcome of diligence, focus, and perseverance.

Inside Kekaulike: Spotlight on Joebelle Bonete

Reading about Joebelle Bonete’s involvement in the King Kekaulike community can easily make you exhausted.  This senior currently serves as King Kekaulike’s Student Body President, National Honor Society Secretary, a varsity Track and Field co-captain, the Treasurer for Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), an Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) tutor, a Maui District Student Council member, and Interact Club Sergeant-at-Arms.

Although Bonete has immersed herself in countless activities, student government has become a true passion.  She credits advisor and Student Activities Coordinator, Janina Kennedy for helping to expand and prosper her breadth of leadership skills and capabilities.  “She [Kennedy] deserves so much credit than what she bargains for in return, but that is what I love about her the most,” said Bonete.

As she looks to her future, Bonete’s plans include attending a private college on the east coast and majoring in biology.  Her athletic pursuits are also top of mind.  “I hope to continue competing in the triple jump event in the NAIA or in a Division III athletic program,” she said. Most importantly, if all goes to plan, her hopes include one day entering medical school to pursue a career as an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon).

With her passion and drive, it is very likely that we will see a Dr. Bonete in the near future.


SAVE THE DATE: Homecoming 2013

Homecoming this fall will be held on Friday, September 27, 2013 at the King Kekaulike Stadium.

The theme is, “It is Time to Come Home”.  According to Student Activities Coordinator Janina Kennedy, “KKHS is a relatively young school and since the alumni are slowly returning to Maui to give back to their community, we felt it to be a particularly fitting theme for this year.”

Each class will design a float that represents various states that KKHS students might have gone off to for schooling and will conclude with a large float representing Hawai‘i, our “home”.

Following tradition, the court will be presented and the King Kekaulike band will play musical pieces that represent different states, and will conclude with the song, “Take Me Home, Country Road” by Braddah IZ Kamakawiwo‘ole.

Alumni are encouraged to get involved in this important event to support our school.  Here are a few ways:

1.  Attend the pre-game alumni kick-off party in the KKHS gym lobby from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.  Reminisce with a few of your favorite teachers.  Those who are invited include: Mrs. Matsushita, Mr. Pisciotto, Ms. Grimley, Mrs. Ayotte (Ms. Miyagawa), and Mr. Paa.  In addition catch up with a few new teachers and alums, Mrs. Lynn (Kajihara) Yamada – ’99, Mr. Dain Shimabuku – ’03, Ms. Ronnie Kihara – ’03, Mr. Ryan Arakawa – ’00.  The event is free.  Please RSVP at and check for the latest information on the event.

2.  Buy an alumni t-shirt!  Available for purchase at the alumni kick-off or at the homecoming game.

3.  Assist the ASKK Executive Council with the Hawai‘i float.  The goal is to include beach scenery and lu’au decorations.  Float construction will begin 2 weeks before homecoming.  Contact Janaina Kennedy if you are able to assist at or donate any items for the float at Janina_Kennedy/KEKAULIKE/

4.  Participate in the Homecoming Parade starting immediately following the Junior Varsity Game ends.  Meet down by the track at 6:00 p.m. to participate in the parade.

If you have any questions, on homecoming, please e-mail or check our website at for up to date information.


Class of 2003 Reunion Information

The Class of 2003 has announced its 10 year reunion will be held between September 27-29, 2013 in connection with Homecoming 2013.

Locations and times of events are forthcoming. If you are 2003 graduate, please send your contact information to Details and invites will be e-mailed.

Class of 2003

Launching our Alumni Association

Aloha Na Ali’i Alumni,

Many of you reading this may be wondering what exactly the King Kekaulike High School Alumni Association is about. What is the purpose? Who is behind it? How can I get involved?

Let us preface these answers by rightfully acknowledging that this has been a vision of a few King Kekaulike H.S. administrators and alumni who wanted to bring the concept of an alumni association to fruition. Mahalo for the gentle nudge and we hope this vision will become a successful and beneficial relationship between alumni, current King Kekaulike High School students and the surrounding community.

The formation of our alumni association is in its infancy. We have met once a quarter to get a feel of the type of organization we would like to become. Creating an association from the ground-up has its challenges. Creating a solid foundation to build upon is critical and is one of the reasons we have taken our time in developing a framework that will allow for growth. In our meetings it has been easy to get lost in conversations, talking about all the impactful things we would like to participate in and how we can help today’s students in varying capacities. Out of those creative (and sometimes meandering) conversations, we managed to form an executive board, draft a set of governing by-laws, and participate in our first service project (working the food booth at King Kekaulike’s graduation).

The mission of the King Kekaulike Alumni Association is to engage, connect and celebrate the alumni and friends of King Kekaulike High School and work to build lifelong relationships that support the future of our high school.

Aside from the building of relationships between the alumni association and current high school students, the alumni association aims to re-connect with our own alumni and create events to gather and socialize. King Kekaulike has now graduated 14 classes, translating to thousands of alumni. If we can come together for not only good company, but to be a piece of a greater whole, the impact we can have is great. One of the most important things we can do is provide scholarships for students entering various forms of post high school education. The ability to help someone pursue their dreams in today’s challenging environment is powerful and necessary.

Those of us that have volunteered our time and energy to build this association have all come from a variety of graduating classes and fields of work. From teachers to politics to construction, our diversity is our strength. We look forward to expanding this association, adding varying perspectives and creative thinking. What has brought us together thus far is a shared belief that our alma mater is a good school. King Kekaulike has a quality administration, caring and capable educators and faculty, and a bright student body. We have come together to reconnect with all of you, as well as champion the successes of the students and faculty and become another pillar of support for those who seek it.

If you are interested in joining the King Kekaulike High School Alumni Association please visit our website at and like our Facebook page