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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, June 5, 2010

School holds its final commencement ceremony

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Word of Life Academy 2010 graduate Arden Lomboy celebrates as he clutches his diploma during the school’s final commencement today at the Word of Life Christian Center. The private school closed Friday after 17 years.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Word of Life Academy's final graduation ceremony today was a bittersweet affair for 22 seniors heading off to the next phase of their lives and more than 300 underclassmen who will spend their remaining high school years at other schools, but there was more celebration than sadness at the event itself.

The private religious school in Downtown Honolulu closed Friday after 17 years, another victim, founder Art Sepulveda said, of Hawai'i's economic downturn.

At its peak a few years ago, the school had a total enrollment of about 500 students spread out over three campuses. By the time the school closed its doors for good, that number had dwindled to just 325.

"It's bittersweet, but we see it as one door closing and another opening," Sepulveda said. "There are mixed emotions. It's very sad, but in everything we've done, we've succeeded."

New grad Arden Lomboy lamented the closing of the school. His younger brother Daren, a sophomore, will transfer to Kailua High School next year.

"It's sad because the school is closed and all of our friends will be scattered around the island," Arden Lomboy said. "As alumni, we're not going to have anyplace to come back and visit."

For more on this story, see tomorrow's Honolulu Advertiser.