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Saturday, June 3, 2000

Class of 2000:
Singled out,
‘pressured out’

'We're just an ordinary class
like any other class,' the year's
graduates insist

By Crystal Kua


Class of 2000, wazzup!

That's what Kamehameha Schools senior class president Kohona Mossman, during his commencement speech Sunday, said to his classmates, using a greeting from a popular television commercial.

The 400-plus graduates growled on cue, "Wazzup!"

Graduation season is in full swing with thousands of Hawaii high school seniors this weekend alone expected to step up to receive their sheepskins.

But this year's crop of graduates had been singled out since kindergarten as special -- youngsters destined for great things because their graduation date had millennium implications.

What's up with the Class of 2000? Lots, its members say.

"We're supposed to be the drug-free, alcohol-free Class of 2000," said Roosevelt High School senior Kimi Kwock. "Yeah, right."

Kwock and classmate Jason Yamasaki were outside their school auditorium yesterday before graduation rehearsal.

"We're just an ordinary class like any other class, and I think just by chance we were born in 1982 and we're going to graduate this year," Kwock said.

Yamasaki's memories of the hoopla surrounding his graduation year came in first grade at Noelani Elementary.

"I remember having those posters, Class of 2000," Yamasaki said. "I had no idea what it was."

Ilan Bernstein looked back at his kindergarten year at Iolani School.

"They've been prepping us to be the Class of 2000. Ever since, they've set us apart," said Bernstein, now an Iolani senior. "I thought it was pretty cool. I didn't think that it made us special, but I thought it was a cool number."

But the year 2000 seemed so far off in the future.

"We were supposed to be the special class," said Kwock, who plans to major in communications at Loyola Marymount University. "I thought the year 2000 would never come, though. When you're little, you always thought you were going to be little."

Punahou School senior Traci Murakami, who plans to major in premedicine at the University of Southern California, could relate. "I guess when you're that young, you don't really think that you're ever going to graduate. You don't think that far ahead."

Murakami and classmate Sheri Tanaka, who is headed to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, were stuffing inserts into graduation programs on campus yesterday afternoon.

Tanaka said there was a lot of hype along the road to graduation.

"We get a lot of, 'You guys are going to be the leaders of tomorrow. You're going to be running our world.' In that sense, I think there's more attention," she said.

Yamasaki had different thoughts. "I think there was too much hype for our class. Why our class?"

Kwock added: "It's always special when anybody graduates and whenever you're going into your next chapter in life. But I think that maybe people have pressured us out."

Kwock said that was evident with her class at Roosevelt, which started with 400 students in freshman year and now has much fewer students who will be walking in the commencement exercises.

She lamented the path taken by those who dropped out. "It's sad, too, that although they're really smart people, somewhere they took a wrong turn or they just decided that school wasn't important anymore," Kwock said.

"I guess you never see your friends doing that kind of thing until it happens."

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