Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 2:19 p.m., Thursday, May 26, 2005

Kapa'a High bans graffiti writers from graduation ceremony

Associated Press

KAPA'A — Five Kaua'i high school seniors are banned from walking with their classmates at tomorrow's graduation ceremony after they admitted to painting graffiti on campus buildings.

The five Kapa'a High School students apologized, put posters up around school saying they were sorry and put their painting skills to good use painting new lines on the parking stalls in the student parking lot.

Classmates and friends also lobbied on their behalf, but principal Gilmore Youn, who made the decision not to allow the five students to participate in the commencement ceremony, wouldn't change his mind.

The punishment would allow them to graduate. Names of the five male students were not released by the school.

The graffiti painting took place over a three-day period last weekend. Some students say it's been a tradition in recent years for seniors to paint their graduating year atop one of the campus buildings.

The boys left their initials on the roof and in other places on campus, Youn said.

"It's the worst case of desecration I've seen in my 35 years here," he said.

Some of the teens were caught on Sunday by campus security officers, Youn said.

The boys bragged to other students and teachers about what they had done, and only expressed remorse after being told they couldn't walk at graduation, he said.

"I see the arrogance in this whole issue," he said.

Youn has the backing of the state Department of Education. Daniel Hamada, superintendent for Kaua'i, said he reviewed the cases after several family members contacted him.

"Graffiti at the school is serious," said Hamada, who said the disciplinary action was appropriate.

Youn has ordered a fence to be built to secure the campus when school isn't in session and is also considering installing surveillance cameras.

Youn noted that had he called the police and had the boys arrested, they would have been suspended and left with a police record.

Senior Nani Saffer admitted to being on school grounds at least one of the three days when the graffiti painting took place, but is being allowed to participate in Friday's ceremony after Youn's investigation found she didn't take part in the painting.

She has been trying to convince the principal to allow the boys to join the ceremony, and noted that one of the boys has family flying in from Tonga for the graduation.

"Seeing these boys fight for their graduation rights has been devastating," she said. "Without your best friends at your side, graduation doesn't seem as special."