Kamehameha Schools Seniors Host Veterans Prom
Residents of Hilo’s Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home enjoyed an evening of music, dancing, pūpū and refreshments during a masquerade ball planned especially for them as a way to give back to and honor the elderly population.
The Masquerade Ball was hosted on Wednesday, Oct. 19, by Ronelle Kahanuolaikealomahina Valera, a senior at Kamehameha Schools on Hawai‘i Island, as a legacy project.
“I always knew from a very young age that I wanted to work in the medical field because I love to help people,” said Valera. “My goal is to create a fun and social event for our seniors because I feel they need a day that’s all about them. All they really want is to be spoken to. So I thought what a better way that to throw them their own masquerade ball?”
Valera said she previously visited the veterans home.
“They don’t want much, just attention,” explained the 17-year-old, adding that when it came time for her senior legacy project, she knew where she wanted to focus.
Valera noticed not many other students were doing projects for senior citizens.
“They more than deserve it,” Valera said.
High school seniors volunteered their time, entertaining our residents, providing activities and serving as dance partners for the veterans.
The seniors also provided the veterans with prom attire for those who never had a chance to attend their own prom.
Performances included a duet by Ho‘onani McClung and Noah AhChong, hula by Keane Guiteras, Miss Teen Lehua Hawai‘i, hip-hop by Faydee “Faith” Picar, Young Miss Lehua Hawai‘i, vocals by Young Miss Lehua Hawai‘i First Princess Kilinahe Arquero, a duet by Ka‘imilani and Maile Kipapa and singing by International Junior Miss Aloha State Teen Kylyn Rapoza.
Yukio Okutsu residents Patrick Purgatorio and Harry Mederios both said the ball was “very nice.”
When asked which performance they enjoyed most, Purgatorio said with a smile, “All of them.”
A highlight of the evening was the crowning of the king and queen.
Yukio Okutsu residents Betty Araujo and Ramon Abong were crowned prom queen king.
Upon receiving her crown, Araujo said, “You all are over-kind.”
Abong gave a small speech of gratitude and appreciation for the experience, concluding, “I am so, so happy.”
Both Valera and Lopez hope that another student will carry on this legacy, making the masquerade an annual event.
Yukio Okutsu Recreation Director Stacyn Lopez shared the night was an opportunity to, “bring the generations together and provide them a night just for them.”
Lopez noted the morning after the ball, it was apparent that the residents had enjoyed themselves. They were smiling as they congratulated the king and queen.
“Just seeing the smiles on their faces from last night brings great joy to our day,” said Lopez.
“Their smiles melted my heart,” said Valera.