Sharing Mana‘o

Graduation season is here, and even those of us who aren’t directly involved with the Class of 2019 can sense the excitement in the air. In the next few weeks, we’ll see congratulatory messages scrawled on car windows as each of the local high schools hold commencement exercises. I’ve noticed a new trend this year: banners, looking much like election campaign signs, posted on fences alongside neighborhood streets to proclaim the achievements of individual students.

It’s hard for me to believe, much less accept, that my own high school graduation was 45 years ago. I keep thinking that I must have miscalculated; after all, math was never my strong suit. Sadly, I received an email a few weeks ago that confirmed the accuracy of my arithmetic. The Baldwin High School Class of ’74 is holding its 45th year reunion this summer.

Didn’t we just have our 25th reunion? In fact, it seems like only a few years have passed since we marched to “Pomp and Circumstance” in our maroon caps and gowns.

Our ceremony in the War Memorial Stadium began at sunset with a gentle breeze and a light drizzle. By the time we were seated before the open stage, the football field and spectator stands were drenched with “Hawaiian blessings.”

Honolulu newscaster Bob Sevey, revered as “Hawaii’s Walter Cronkite,” was our keynote speaker, and he elevated himself even further in our esteem as he gamely delivered his remarks in the downpour. Perhaps he shortened his speech, I don’t know, but he stayed on stage with BHS and DOE officials to present each of us our diplomas. I can still see his grandfatherly smile as he shook my hand and congratulated me, water dripping off the bridge of his nose like a leaky faucet.

The irony of our chosen song, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” was not lost on us as we began singing,

“When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high…”

We did indeed hold our heads high, as we were lucky to have our mortarboards to deflect the splattering raindrops. Our gowns and party outfits beneath were soaked, however, and our waterlogged sandals and shoes squirted with each step.

“Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain,

Though your dreams be tossed and blown…

In 45 years, I’ve walked through a lot more storms, fulfilled many of my dreams and weathered a few nightmares. I’m sure my classmates will have similar tales to tell when the Class of ’74 reunites on Saturday, June 1, at the King Kamehameha Golf Club. The reunion is being held in conjunction with Deja Vu 15, the old school dance party featuring two bands from our teen years: Asian Blend and the Shamroks.

The sign-up deadline passed a few days ago, but if any of my Baldwin classmates would like to attend, email me at the address listed at the end of this column and I’ll put you in touch with the planners. Don’t bother looking for a Facebook page; there are dozens of BHS and Baldwin High 45th reunion pages, and none of them is the right one.

I’ll be there in spirit, but the rest of me will be in Michigan to see my eldest granddaughter graduate from high school. Apparently, Union City HS also holds commencement exercises outdoors, on its football field. I’m told not to worry, that Michigan weather is quite pleasant in late May. But just in case, alongside the lei and li hing mui candies, I’m packing an umbrella.

Congratulations to all 2019 graduates and their loved ones!

* Kathy Collins is a radio personality (The Buzz 107.5 FM), storyteller, actress, emcee and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is kcmaui913@gmail.com.