Members of Waianae High School’s class of 2016 are getting ready to take the next big step in life by accepting their diplomas Friday night.
Valedictorians are students with the highest academic rank in their class, and there can be more than one per school.
This year, Mililani High School had 56 valedictorians, Kalani High School 42, and Campbell High School 18.
There are 19 valedictorians graduating from Waianae, the most the school has ever had according to the Department of Education.
They’re finishing their four years of high school at the top of their class and are ready to take on the world.
Kylee-Ray is one of the top three students in the class.
“We worked so hard and we earned this privilege and honor to represent our school and show that we care about not only our grades, but our futures as well,” she said.
To be a valedictorian you have to have a grade point average of 4.0 or above not just for your senior year, but for all four years combined, and you have to pass an honors program.
Jamie Sanidad has the highest GPA among her peers. She plans to go to the University of Hawaii at Manoa and become an environmental scientist, but she wants to teach first.
“This means a lot for my family,” she said. “They are so proud of me. I kept telling them I’m not going to be ranked one, no there are so many other people who are super smart at this high school.”
These students are driven, hard-working and give back to their communities. Many of them took early college and advanced placement classes to get ahead.
Crystal Cebeto has a full ride to Menlo College, a private university in Silicon Valley.
“I think what motivated me was definitely the community. I feel like this community has definitely saved me, despite what everybody else thinks about it. You have so many great students here,” Cebeto said.
Class adviser Leeann Manuel has seen these students thrive over these last four years, and considers them young adults who didn’t let distractions cloud their path.
“These kids are the driving force and they want to get out there and they want to do better things,” Manuel said.
What motivates them to be so successful?
“I feel like my family provides a good foundation for myself,” Kylee-Ray said. “They are very supportive, encouraging and they just really want me to pursue these goals that I have.”