Different Graduation, Same Heart

Hawaii is our home

Hawaii is Our Home

Different Graduation, Same Heart

Graduations are a special time of the year, as hard-working students finally get to celebrate the milestone that they’ve been working for years to achieve.

Graduations are a special time of the year, as hard-working students finally get to celebrate the milestone that they’ve been working for years to achieve. In Hawai‘i, the occasion is typically marked with a mountain of lei, massive posters and signs, balloons and an entire cheering squad waiting for the moment that they can shout a hearty, “Chee Hoo!!!” in honor of their graduate. Following the ceremony, classmates and family members are seen carrying armfuls of lei to give away, leaving every student adorned up to their faces (and sometimes, eyes!) with layers of hand-made ribbon lei, colorful lei po‘o (lei for the head), candy lei and just about every type of flower lei that you can think of. It’s quite the sight to see.

And while graduation season may look a little different this year, the excitement and well-deserved accomplishment can still be celebrated with just as much passion and energy as the years before. We may be used to showering our grads with physical lei, but this year, we’re showering them with words of encouragement and digital lei (try out our filter on Instagram or Facebook!). An example of this comes from Hawaiian Airlines employee Lori Joy Watanabe, who shares some uplifting words with her daughter, a graduating high school senior:

Dear Mia,
When you entered kindergarten at ‘Iolani, the Class of 2020 graduation seemed like an eternity away. Yet time has flown by quickly and here we are now, days away from this monumental moment. Being my first-born, I had visions of what it would be like raising a little girl, only to realize quickly that you had dreams and visions of your own journey. And while parenting a young girl who was extremely self-assured in her responses has been my greatest challenge, the reward could not be sweeter than it is today, as I look at you with so much admiration for the young woman you have become.

You pursued an academic schedule far more advanced than anything I could’ve imagined, committed yourself to chasing your collegiate soccer dream and seeing the fruits of your labor blossom, and unwaveringly leaned on your Faith to remain steadfast to your “self” through it all. Despite the shortage of lei at your graduation, there is no shortage of pride, respect, joy and happiness we share with you in celebration of receiving your high school diploma and for all the accomplishments it stands for! Congratulations, Mia!

Left photo by Rae Marshall Photography

The heartfelt note above is just one of the many ways Lori Joy will be celebrating Mia’s tremendous accomplishment. For those also looking to make graduation extra special this year, but aren’t sure how (given the current situation), we’ve put together a few ideas that you can try:

  • Give a digital lei to your grad by sharing our graduation lei filter, available on Instagram and Facebook.
  • Compile a video of fun clips from family and friends congratulating the graduate on their accomplishment.
  • Write a heartfelt message and include a digital Hawaiian Airlines Gift Card for the gift of future travel (that doesn’t expire!). Plus, from now through May 27, you can earn five HawaiianMiles for every dollar spent on a digital gift card. Click here for details.
  • Coordinate a car parade of family and friends, complete with signs, balloons and music. Make it a game and have visitors try to toss a lei onto the graduate as they drive by!

However you choose to celebrate graduation this year, we know it will be one to remember.

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2020!

Story By Nicky Texeira,

May 20, 2020