Days before graduation, Damien Memorial School cancels its virtual ceremony

Published: May. 18, 2020 at 10:54 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Damien Memorial School sent an email to seniors and their parents Monday afternoon saying Sunday’s virtual graduation ceremony is cancelled.

Caps and gowns were supposed to be delivered to 91 seniors on Tuesday. That has been canceled as well.

Despite many attempts, Hawaii News Now could not get in touch with the school President Brother Brian Walsh for a response and neither could upset parents.

"It's unreasonable to change plans to this degree this late in the game," said Matthew Mason.

Mason’s son is a senior at the school. He said he has been planning for his son’s graduation for years.

"I don't think they even anticipated the number of people they're effecting by this announcement. People have made travel plans, flight plans, leis, food, celebrations," Mason said.

The email said it was a response to a letter sent to by a minority group of students to the administration who asked for a physical graduation instead.

“As a class, we have come together to create a ceremony that we feel will be most optimal for us. We ask that the Damien Field be open to us for a designated date in July or early August,” the letter states.

It was signed by 42 seniors.

"We don't want a virtual graduation. We want to have a physical one, an in-person one. So, we gave ideas. We can have it on the field, we can have it on our gym, still practicing social distancing rules,” said senior Ramon Hernando.

Jordan Donahue said he was looking forward to Sunday’s ceremony and the email came as a surprise to him.

"It sucks for me and my classmates who worked hard for this moment," Donahue said. "We've worked hard for four years to try and get this moment, and for it to get taken away, I think it could have been handled a little bit better.”

Monday’s email states, “Graduation is a School event not an event held by parents or by students. It is an event held for parents and for students but not by parents or by students.”

It also states, “As mentioned in the letter the students will have a ceremony in July or August on the field.”

However, some are skeptical if that will even happen.

“It's a little unclear,” said Ramon’s father Robert. “The Damien administration has to make it clear that they'll support it, the diplomas will he handed out at the ceremony and to lay out more details concerning the ceremony."

Even if the summer ceremony on the field happens, some students and parents believe many graduates will be gone and already off to college.

“That just robs all of our children from all of their achievements they’ve been working on through the years. None of the kids did anything wrong to not earn this graduation. Yet the school is literally robbing them of that,” said Mason.

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