March 25, 2021
Dear Hilo High Senior Class & Parents,
The time has finally come where seniors are preparing for one of the most momentous occasions in their personal lives. Of course, I am referring to graduation from high school! Earning a Hilo High School diploma is an individual right that belongs to a senior when they have earned the required 24 credits.
In the meantime, it is important to understand that the commencement exercises, which if attended, is a privilege, not a right for the senior. For seniors to be eligible to participate in commencement exercises, they must have accomplished the following: (1) met the requirements for a diploma or certificate; (2) have fulfilled their financial obligations; and (3) have met other conditions established by the Department of Education.
Hilo High School wishes to ensure that our commencement exercises are safe, secure and disciplined so as to preserve the dignity of the occasion for the graduating seniors and their families. To this end, the Hawaii Department of Education Regulations 4540 allow administrators to revoke a student’s privilege of participating in the commencement exercises after determining that a Chapter 19 offense was committed by the student during the fourth quarter of the senior year. That is, a student in the fourth quarter of their senior year must not commit a Class A or B offense or multiple Class C or D offenses. (Refer to the Parent Handbook for definitions)
Seniors are advised and encouraged to Finish Strong, and to end their high school careers in a positive manner, by meeting all the requirements in order to participate in commencement exercises.
At the end of the third quarter, the Department of Education released guidelines for hosting in-person commencement programs during the Covid-19 Pandemic Crisis. Student and faculty leaders discussed the options that could work for Hilo High School, given the guidelines, covid-19 regulations, and the venue options that are available to us. Via google survey, senior students were asked to consider two clear options to provide their voice in the determination process. Within the survey and in conversation with seniors, it is apparent that there are three critical areas students feel are important to them for their commencement: (1) They want their families to be there to witness the milestone of receiving their Hilo High School diploma. (2) They want their teachers to be able to celebrate the momentous occasion with them. 3) They want to “walk the line” as many proud Viking Alumni have done over the last 112 years.
After careful consideration, it has been decided that Hilo High School’s Class of 2021 Commencement Ceremony will take place on Friday, May 21, 2021. The celebration will be an elaborate Drive Through event, with a Commemorative Virtual Program to premiere later that day via social media and other media outlets.
Students who serve on our Commencement Committee and Class Council, along with their dedicated advisors and our Viking Faculty and Staff, are committed to hosting an event that will honor the wishes of our seniors. With the selection of a modified Drive Through, students will be able to “walk the line” with a car-full of their closest loved ones by their side. Our dedicated Schoolwide Communications Club, KVIKS, has pledged their support in the creation of a virtual commencement “program” that will have the feels and components of a traditional in-person ceremony. Lastly, the event will be filled with our loving Teachers and Staff, who have cared for and supported our students throughout their journey as Hilo High School Vikings.
We know that this decision will not be the news some of you wanted, and I feel heartbroken for the students who have had the end of their junior year, and the entirety of their senior year taken away from them. However, it is my hope and wish that all of our eligible seniors will participate in the planned events, and will celebrate as students one final time together, as the Mighty Panthers of Hilo High School’s Class of 2021!
Further details are forthcoming and will be communicated with all seniors and parents in the near future.
With Great Viking Pride,