Category Archives: Features

2015 Alumni of the Year: April Uyehara – ’99

Zooming down a zip line for the first time can be an exhilarating experience. The wind in your hair, the lift under your feet, and the excitement in your stomach. “I felt like I was flying,” exclaims a young child with a big smile who has been confined to a wheelchair due to a medical condition.

In moments like these, you know that a rare and in many cases, life changing experience is taking place.

For thousands of youngsters, April Uyehara, a King Kekaulike High School Class of 1999 graduate, has been doing just that – creating life changing opportunities through an organization called, The Painted Turtle. A non-profit residential camp, The Painted Turtle encourages children and their family to reach beyond their serious illness and discover joy, confidence and a new world of possibilities.

Uyehara first volunteered for the organization in 2001 while still attending college and for five summers worked at a sister camp in Florida. In 2007, after receiving her graduate degree, she began year-round work for The Painted Turtle.

Today, she serves as the Director of Programs and Initiatives, a leadership position for the camp located in Southern California.

Founded by Paul Newman, the camp is part of SeriousFun Children’s Network, a worldwide network of camps and programs serving children with serious medical conditions.

The camp provides on-site medical support that allows The Painted Turtle to provide a unique and safe camp experience to children with special medical needs. They serve over 30 medical condition groups through their family weekend and summer camp sessions.

At the camp, there are all the traditional camp activities: woodshop, arts and crafts, horseback riding, teambuilding games, creative arts programming, fishing, boating, swimming, campfires, the high ropes course and zip lining.

According to Uyehara, life outside of camp for many of their campers may mean a series of medical procedures, hospital stays, and isolation from their peers.

“When kids are at camp they connect with other children who take the same medicines, have the same scars, and share similar experiences,” she said.

The Painted Turtle strives to provide an environment that is physically and emotionally safe, uplifting, fun, a place where they can sing, dance, develop important friendships and be a place where campers are free to be themselves.

“After seeing what their child accomplishes at camp, parents have gone to their child’s school to advocate for their child and changed their child’s IEP, this time with a new goal to graduate from high school,” said Uyehara.

“Painted Turtle campers overcome a great deal in their lives. And when they’re at camp, believe me, they are kids in the purest form,” she said.

Working at The Painted Turtle was a natural fit, according to Trisha Grimley, former KKHS Student Activities coordinator, “April has always been a compassionate, service oriented person, in high school, in college, in her personal life and in her career,” she said.

“April is passionate about her job and seeks to offer the best experiences for the hundreds of children who attend the week long camps,” said Grimley.

Uyehara graduated from Perpperdine University in 2003 with a Bachelors of Arts in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Elementary Education. She went on to receive a Master of Arts Degree in Education with a concentration in Child Life from Mills College in 2006.

She credits Kekaulike for preparing her well for college.

“Throughout high school, my teachers were supportive and empowering, showing me that hard work pays off,” says Uyehara.

“I tried a lot of things in high school – classes, sports teams, clubs – I found a few things I loved and was pretty good at and other activities where I was not nearly as good, but in everything that I participated in, I was encouraged and accepted,” she said.

She noted that the KKHS not only allowed her to identify passions in life, but it also taught her how to face and overcome challenges.

“My KKHS education gave me such a strong foundation going into college, my career and the community, which has helped shape me to be the best version of myself,” she said.

In keeping with her spirit of helping others, in 2010, Uyehara began a journey to document an act of kindness, service, or highlight an organization for every single day of the year on her blog, Twelve months later on November 24, 2011 she accomplished her goal of posting 365 entries, one for each day of the year.

At the conclusion of her project she wrote, “I’ve been inspired by each organization, each individual, and every story. And, most of all, I’ve learned that if you look for service, you will see it around you every single day. It can be as simple as a Snuggie or as strong as standing up for a survivor. It can be something huge someone does around the world or it can be in your neighborhood or in your good thoughts. You can help save the planet or sing. Use your passion to make a difference.”

“If you look for it, if you listen for it, service is all around you,” Uyehara concluded.

It is because of this passion for serving others and making a difference one small step at a time, that King Kekaulike Alumni Association is proud to name April Uyehara as our 2015 Alumni of the Year.

2014 Alumna of the Year: Dallas Nagata White

Since opening its doors, King Kekaulike has educated thousands of students who have gone on to make unique achievements throughout our community, both here at home and afar. Many go unrecognized, but the successes of Kekaulike alumni are quite amazing and are important to share.

Class of 2014 student, Joebelle Bonete, wanted this to become a reality and decided that the best way of memorializing achievements of alumni and sharing it with the Kekaulike community was through an alumni award. Yearly awards already exist for a Kekaulike Teacher of the Year, Class of the Year, and Student of the Year and an Alumni of the Year award seemed only natural.

Bonete took on the award as her senior project and laid the foundational components for the award, which focuses on recognizing individuals who have demonstrated unique accomplishments following graduation from Kekaulike.

Her hope was that the Alumni of the Year would not only inspire up and coming students to think big in what they can accomplish in their future, but also showcase the value of a Kekaulike education.

Nominations were sought and an alumni award panel vetted each applicant with one finalist being awarded the recognition per year.

In 2014, Dallas Nagata White, a class of 2004 graduate, was awarded the distinction of being named the first recipient of the Alumni of the Year Award.


Dallas Nagata White.


Nagata White, a professional photographer, is well known for her vibrant photos that grace the covers of publications such as National Geographic, Vogue, Huffington Post, Honolulu Magazine, and other renowned publications both locally and internationally.

Most recently, she had the privilege of taking the official photo of newly elected Governor David Ige in his Executive Chambers in front of the seal of Hawaii.


Official photo of Governor David Ige by Dallas Nagata White.

This however, is only one of many of her adventures. In 2012, one of Nagata White’s photos went viral, as she captured the “Hottest Kiss Ever by Active Lava Flow.” The photo even landed her in the Huffington Post, which showcased the photo and reported the background of the photo. The story goes that when she and her husband were visiting the Kilauea lava flow on the Big Island, they decided to snap a quick photograph. Using a DSLR, tripod and wireless flash system, Nagata White’s photo got an added something special when her husband, ever the romantic, dipped her into a dramatic kiss as the rain started falling.

The photo is quite breathtaking and is only one of many that you can find in her dramatic collection.


Although much of her talent was built up from experience, Nagata White holds a bachelor’s degree in studio art with an emphasis in painting and photography from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

She was born and raised on Maui but currently resides in Honolulu with her husband Ed. With her newfound reputation, she is now more selective in her projects and considers herself an editorial and commercial photographer.


Ed White and Dallas Nagata White.

When asked about her being a Kekaulike graduate, she stated that, “I’m proud because it was one of the newer public school in the State of Hawaii but we know we went to good one,” she said.

“It was a good place to come out of and there has been a lot of successful people to come from our school,” said Nagata White.

Despite all her success, Nagata White understands that although getting work done is important, you still need to set aside time for fun.

Her advice for those looking for success is to, “work hard and get your work done. Learning to work hard early really pays off in the long run,” she said.


“Having the discipline to keep working hard and goof off is good but don’t forget to schedule time to goof off because you’ll need that for a full life and a good experience.”

A collection of Nagata White’s photos can be found online at

Nominations for the 2015 Na Ali‘i Alumni of the Year is currently open until Wednesday, April 8. Criteria and the application can be found HERE.

Alumni Spotlight: Sam Cyr – Professional Golfer

Living out of a suitcase and traveling to places such as Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand within a matter of weeks sounds like a once in a lifetime college backpacking trip, but for Sam Cyr, a class of 2005 graduate, it is just another day at the office.

Cyr is a professional golfer on the Asian Tour, the principal men’s professional golf tour in Asia.  Host countries include India, Myanmar, Philippines, and South Korea just to name a few.

“The Asian Tour has been a good opportunity, it’s definitely opened up some doors,” said Cyr, who has flown more than 100,000 miles over the past two years.

Although Cyr is living his childhood dreams, it hasn’t always been what he exactly imagined.  “My path has been different in the sense that I had a dream to play collegiate and professional golf,” said Cyr.  He just never pictured how it would look like.

ISPS Handa Singapore Classic - Day One

Courtesy of the Asian Tour

“I thought I would be playing in the United States, but I am so blessed looking back at the experiences that I have had over the last few years playing on the Asian Tour.  I am traveling the world and learning so much. …It’s been a crazy road for me for sure, but it’s been awesome,” he said.

As a Kekaulike student, Cyr was known for his golfing skills, winning the Maui Interscholastic League individual boys golf championship title during his senior year.  His talents also helped to lead the KKHS golf team to win three MIL championships during his high school career.

He attended Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California, earning a business administration degree and playing on the men’s golf team.  While in college, Cyr was a four-time All-American, won 12 tournaments and two NAIA national championships (2008 and 2009).

Cyr’s first pro win came at the 2010 Mid-Pacific Open, by two shots over PGA Tour winner Dean Wilson. His second and third came the next year, at the Hawaii State and Maui opens.

During the 2013 season, Cyr made $97,271 in tournament earnings, ranking him 39th in the Order of Merit, a ranking of player winnings for the Asian Tour.

Courtesy of the Asian Tour

Courtesy of the Asian Tour

Reflecting back on high school, Cyr gives practical advice about success, “I think that the decisions we make each day do influence our tomorrow. High school is a great time to set your future up and make your goals for the upcoming years,” he said.

Still single, Cyr is adapting to his increasingly busy life, “ I am learning how to balance my life with travel and business obligations,” he said.

Cyr’s ultimate dream is to one-day play on the coveted PGA Tour and with his track record of achievement, he is well on his way of making his dreams a reality.

Cyr was recently featured in a Star Advertiser Sports Feature.  Check it out at:

Alumni Profile: Will Weston, Entrepreneur

Will Weston, a class of 2002 graduate, has traveled quite a bit in the 11 years since graduating from King Kekaulike.  Western Europe, China, New Zealand, Japan, and Vietnam; these are a handful of the countries where he has ventured.  He attributes his love for travel from the fortune and limitation that came from growing up in Hawai‘i.

“We were lucky, yes, and people will remind us that for the rest of our lives every time they ask us where we came from, but it was also challenging to feel as though we were connected to or knew anything about how the rest of the world worked,” he said.

His journey thus far has been filled with balancing conventional decisions about his continued education, with growth and exploration through travel and music.  Choosing to attend the University of Colorado and briefly studying abroad in Europe, he earned his BA in English with a focus on creative writing.  After graduation he traveled across the United States by train and bicycle before settling down in San Francisco to acquire his Masters of Fine Arts with a focus in creative writing.

Will Weston, the traveler.

Will Weston, the traveler.

“It should be said that I really stayed in school more to give myself more time to think about what I realistically wanted to do than to follow a specific career track in writing.”

Since completing his formal education, Will has gone on to pursue a new adventure. This adventure requires more grit, fearlessness and determination than his travels across the globe – entrepreneurialism.

“I made the right connections with the right people and ended up in the right place at the right time working for an older guy who was ready to retire and sell his place,” said Weston.

“I formed a partnership with three other guys, took out the loans, and bought the place. We’ve run it for a year and a half now, and turned it into one of the more interesting, eccentric small live music venues in downtown San Francisco.”

His profession is also closely intertwined with his passion, music.  Having pursued music in various degrees of seriousness since childhood, his current occupation has allowed for continued creative growth.  “I’ve chosen a career path that allows me the freedom to create my own schedule in the hopes of pursuing things like this with as much heart as I have for it.”

Weston released his debut album “Quiet Sirens” in 2012 and has utilized his formal education in creative writing to compose rock/funk/blues/jazz inspired songs with great lyrics.

Will Weston is the owner of Café Royale on the corner of Post & Leavenworth in downtown San Francisco.

Will Weston is the owner of Café Royale on the corner of Post & Leavenworth in downtown San Francisco.

When asked about his years at King Kekaulike High School he says that although it now seems a lifetime ago, he remembers it very fondly.  He speaks kindly of retired teacher Mrs. Weeks. Expressing that she, “held people accountable” and “was definitely an extremely valuable asset to a number of people in our graduating class.”

Like many, the details of high school are now obscure, but he recalls fights across the street and playing in his band for pep rallies. The sort of memories many hold on to about that time of adolescence.  Not a lot of particular detail, but memories that speak to those wonderful childhood freedoms.

With combined conventional, as well as real life knowledge, it wasn’t a surprise that he offered a few words of advice for current students to consider.

“Have patience, and not to emphasize too much importance on what transpires in those insanely confusing developmental years. There is so much more comfort in the years ahead, as you learn about who you truly are and who you want to be in the world.  If you’re kind to people, if your intentions are good, it’s rare that you won’t be rewarded in some greater sense in the long run,” he said.

If you would like to hear and purchase some of Will Weston’s music, please visit, or if you so happen to be in the downtown San Francisco area, stop in to Café Royale, on the corner of Post & Leavenworth, he’ll gladly extend a kama‘āina discount to fellow King Kekaulike alums!

Retired KKHS teachers hold gathering

Thought you were happy at graduation when your years at KKHS were coming to an end?  Take a look at the smiles on this gathering of retired teachers from King Kekaulike who met together for lunch last November.  Eleven of the 15 teachers/counselors/administration who have retired from our high school met together with principal Susan Scofield at the Bistro Casanova in Kahului.

As teachers are prone to do, they talked the entire time catching up on each other’s whereabouts since leaving KKHS.

Seated:  Marilyn Nomura, Susan Scofield, Janie King  Standing:  Ed Enomoto, Warren Liu, Carolyn Johnson, David Fukuda, Ron Pisciotto, Dennis Dias, Trisha Grimley, Cary Honda, Kurtis Saiki.

Seated: Marilyn Nomura, Susan Scofield, Janie King Standing: Ed Enomoto, Warren Liu, Carolyn Johnson, David Fukuda, Ron Pisciotto, Dennis Dias, Trisha Grimley, Cary Honda, Kurtis Saiki.

Ron Piscotto expressed concern that all the stories had been told and there would nothing to say at the next gathering.  Then he realized at this group’s age, everyone would probably forget everything they heard by the January get together.


Winter 2014 Alumni Association Photos

Alumni Association members at the Kekaulike Karnival.  David Quedding - ‘03, Troy Hashimoto - ‘05, Joe Wilkinson, David Tanaka - ‘02, Kalo DeLeon - ‘ 02, Ronnie Kihara - ‘03.

Alumni Association members at the Kekaulike Karnival. David Quedding – ‘03, Troy Hashimoto – ‘05, Joe Wilkinson, David Tanaka – ‘02, Kalo DeLeon – ‘ 02, Ronnie Kihara – ‘03.

Alumni Association Booth at the Kekaulike Karnival.

Alumni Association Booth at the Kekaulike Karnival.

ASKK President Joebelle Bonete and Student Activities Coordinator Janina Kennedy at the Kekaulike Karnival.

ASKK President Joebelle Bonete and Student Activities Coordinator Janina Kennedy at the Kekaulike Karnival.

2013 Kekaulike Karnival Santa station.

2013 Kekaulike Karnival Santa station.


Winter 2014 Alumni Updates

  • Ashley Arendale (Class of 2001) was married to Roshan Baum on August, 2013 in Littleton, Colorado.  She is currently working as an auditor in Denver.  She graduated in 2005 from Southern Methodist University with a Master’s Degree in Accounting.
  • Kaymie Arendale (Class of 2002) graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2011 with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing.  She is currently working at Maui Memorial Hospital in the acute care unit.
  • Lisa Kajihara (Class of 2003) graduated in December from the University of Florida Hough Hall Graduate School of Business with a Masters of Business Administration.
  • Gary Kanamori (Class of 2004) was married to Miki Shimada in June 2013.
  • Nick Pisciotto (Class of 2004) got engaged to Malia Chiemi in August 2013.
  • Ben Massenburg (Class of 2007) had his first article published in the Sept. 17 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  The article was based on research he did with the Department of Pharmacology and System Therapeutics at New York’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and is titled “ERK regulation of phosphodiesterase 4 enhances dopamine-stimulated AMPA receptor membrane insertion.”  He is in his second year at the medical school.
  • Michelle Painchard (Class of 2009) is publishing her first  young adult novel On Becoming Erica in 2014 through Viking/Penguin Press.

Class of 2004 & Class of 2005 Reunion Updates

  • The Class of 2004 has announced its 10 year reunion will be held on July 26, 2014.  Exact locations and times are being announced to members of the class.  Reservations are required to attend this event.  For more information please send your contact information to event coordinator Danielle Fujii-Doe at  Further information and details will be e-mailed.
  • The Class of 2005 is in the beginning stages of planning its 10 year reunion.  Class members are being encouraged to join the King Kekaulike Class of 2005 Facebook Group to receive updates and to join the planning committee.  The link to the group is:

Mahalo, Arigato, Gracias, Thank you…

A special thank you to the following individuals for making contributions to the KKHS Alumni Association in the Fall of 2013:

  • Ronald Pisciotto
  • Susan and Tracy Scofield
  • David & Judith Fukuda
  • Dr. Ted Kanamori, DDS
  • Trisha Grimley
  • Councilmember Mike White
  • Maui Rents
  • Lynn Beauchamp
  • D&D Party Rentals


“This is just the start” – Alumni Association

The King Kekaulike Alumni Association hosted its first annual reception prior to the homecoming football game in the KKHS gym on Friday, September 27, 2013. Current, retired and previous teachers along with alums representing various classes attended the informal meet and greet.

“This is the just the start,” said Alumni Association President Troy Hashimoto – ‘05. “ We hope this event will continue to grow and we will hold many more events that can bring together the Kekaulike community,” he said.

Working for over a year, the Alumni Association Board has been working to establish a strong foundation with goals that include raising funds for future scholarships, assisting with class reunion events and most importantly, supporting the broader Kekaulike community.

Attendees of the 2013 King Kekaulike Homecoming meeting and greet.

Attendees of the 2013 King Kekaulike Homecoming meeting and greet.

One of Association’s most recent steps was to start giving alumni an identity. With the assistance of Kekaulike graphics teacher and board member, Ryan Arakawa – ‘00 along with Crivello Designs, the Association has started the sale of alumni t-shirts for $15. They can be purchased online at and pick-up can be arranged.

The Association has also been participating in various Kekaulike events, including the Homecoming pre-game parade, Kekaulike Matsuri and Kekaulike Karnival. Board member Kalo DeLeon – ’02, employed his crafty wood working skills and impressively built a beanbag tossing game that will be used at various alumni fundraising events. His board has already been successfully used both at both the Matsuri and the Karnival.


A new award for alumni is also now taking nominations. Through the work of Kekaulike Senior, Joebelle Bonete, an “Alumni of the Year” award has been launched.  As part of her senior project, Bonete has been consulting with the Alumni Association to develop criteria for this new honor. An extension of the student, teacher and class of the year awards, her goal is to feature alumni who have made accomplishments that can inspire the Kekaulike community. Nominations for the inaugural award are closed for this year, but be sure to look out for the nomination period next year. 


Looking forward to the next few months, the Alumni Association is seeking sponsorships for a possible alumni scholarship and is also encouraging alumni to become judges for Kekaulike Senior projects, which will be held on Friday, March 14, 2014. Please consider participating.

The Alumni Association is continaully looking for new ideas. If you have any thoughts on what the Association should be doing or have any ideas for this newsletter, please do not hesitate to send an e-mail at Thanks for reading!