18 Kaʻū High School Students Awarded Certificates From Hawaiʻi Community College

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Photo courtesy of Hawaiʻi Executive Collaborative

Eighteen students from Kaʻū High School who were part of an agriculture entrepreneurship program received certificates of achievement from Hawaiʻi Community College on Friday, May 13, during the college’s 81st commencement ceremony.

The students earned the certificates through the Academy for Agri-preneurship at Kaʻū High and Pāhala Elementary School. The academy is part of the Kaʻū Global Learning Lab, a school-centered strategy to revitalize the Ka‘ū area, preparing students to be environmentally responsible community members and independent entrepreneurs who practice mālama ‘āina and contribute to the socio-economic resiliency of Ka’ū and the world.

“As a former teacher, I’ve witnessed firsthand how access to practical, hands-on education can change the life of a student,” Hawaiʻi first lady Dawn Amano-Ige, chairperson of Kaʻū Dream’s community advisory committee, said in a press release. “Supporting our youth is the first step in revitalizing Kaʻū because empowered students are foundational to the success of their community. Today, we celebrate the accomplishments of these students and what their achievements mean to the community at large.”


Kaʻū Dream is a community-driven initiative committed to transforming Kaʻū into a vibrant place to live, work and play while keeping the authenticity of its people and culture.

Certificates of Competence in Agriculture/Landscaping (12 credits) were awarded to:

  • Stephen Adler
  • Laci Ah Yee
  • Elaina Akiu
  • Jinia Jackson
  • Fred Kauwe
  • Kamamalu Kauwe
  • Eline Ling
  • Charlotte Ross
  • Joaquin Ross
  • Stephen Throne
  • Trinity Torres
  • Kamalani Tuifagu
  • Kainalu Wanzer

Certificates of Achievement in Agriculture (24 credits) were awarded to:

  • Cody Ah Yee
  • Cyrus Eder
  • Kelson Gallano
  • Collin Hanshew
  • Amelia Uribe Bounos

“I never thought I could get a college certificate while still in high school and it makes me feel really good that I already have credits that I can use towards a college degree,” Cody Ah Yee, graduating senior from Kaʻū High, said in the press release. “My sister is in the program too and she’s also getting a certificate today. My mom is really happy that both of us have college credits now.”

The Kaʻū Global Learning Lab was created through a community revitalization project known as Kaʻū Dream, a community resiliency model aimed at building a vibrant, thriving and sustainable Kaʻū through education and economic development. Students as young as 14 are able to earn college credits and certificates of competence in agriculture, entrepreneurship, creative media and culinary arts through the Academy for Agri-preneurship.

Prior to attending the commencement ceremony Friday, the 18 Kaʻū students and their families attended a celebratory luncheon and received gift bags, enjoyed live music from 14-time Nā Hōkū Hanohano award winner Mark Yamanaka and heard a keynote address from Derek Kurisu, executive vice president of KTA Superstores.


“At the Kaʻū Global Learning Lab, our youth are thriving at the intersection of education, agriculture, sustainability, and the Hawaiian value of mālama ʻāina,” ʻĀina Akamu, teacher and director of the Kaʻū Global Learning Lab, said in the press release. “Not only is the academy providing students with the skills and knowledge they need to achieve career success, but it’s also fostering community resiliency by addressing food insecurity in Kaʻū. Our vision is bold – we’re here to transform our entire community for the better.”

“The accomplishments of these young people are a testament to the hard work of the teachers, parents and community members who have come together to make dreams into reality,” Kurisu said in the press release.

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