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Last dance


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POSTED: Saturday, May 09, 2009

Wailupe Valley Elementary School held its last May Day program and celebrated its 50th anniversary yesterday in what was more like a reunion and a farewell party for generations of staff, parents and students.

Classes will no longer be held at the school as of June 8 because of declining enrollment and government cost-cutting. The school has 70 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The Royal Hawaiian Band made sure the students went out in style by accompanying their performances. Henry Kapono led everyone in singing the hit song “;Friends.”;

Principal Susan Okano told the crowd, “;All of you helped to make this a very special school. Nestled in this green valley, and to be able to see the ocean, it is close to heaven.”;

Angela Church, who taught some 12 years ago, came with her daughter, Kacy, a former student.

“;The May Day program was always a special thing. We had to come see the last one. I see a lot of kids I recognize. One student comes back every single year to the program,”; Church said.

May Day queen Jordyn Cresanto, who has attended the school since kindergarten, was preceded by her mother, three older siblings and an aunt, some of whom came for the program.

“;I felt at home here. I used to live across the street. I'm sad and my friends are sad, too. We'll miss this small school because everyone knew each other, and we felt really close to the teachers,”; Jordyn said.

Ann Camacho, who helped plan the anniversary program, has a daughter in the fifth grade who “;has grown and thrived here. The community is losing a great asset. A 50th anniversary is an accomplishment in itself, an amazing feat.”;

She said some of the parents who painted a scenic backdrop of the valley years ago came back to touch it up for the program.

“;It's little things like that that choke you up a little. There's a lot of love in this community for the school,”; she said.

Most students will be attending nearby Aina Haina Elementary in a move that will save $800,000 annually.