A flurry of chiffon, flowers, and camera flashes filled the Hilton Waikiki Beach hotel on March 13 as HBA held its annual junior-senior banquet.
In keeping with HBA tradition, the junior class planned the banquet—more commonly known as prom— in honor of the seniors. With the help of advisers, and after several months of hard work, the juniors organized a stellar banquet themed “Ad Astra”, Latin for “to the star”. Junior class president Anika Keuning said,“We actually came up with the theme over summer break scrolling through Pinterest at Taste Tea. We wanted something that was like a classy and original take on an ordinary prom theme and not anything tacky. The name ‘Ad Astra’ actually came from this book I had to read in eighth grade History class.”
As students arrived at the banquet, they had their pictures taken on Polaroids, which were later hung up outside the ballroom. To fit the celestial theme, each table was given a constellation name and featured a centerpiece of golden branches, and strings of stars and twinkling beads. “It was my first time attending a dance like that,” said junior Joel Lau. “I didn’t really know what to expect, honestly. Everything I know about prom is only what I’ve heard from other people and what I’ve seen on TV or in the movies. It exceeded my expectations.”
For many juniors and underclassmen, it was their first time attending prom. Freshman Kaycee Nakashima said, “My prom as an underclassman was fun, awkward, and intimidating. I was looking forward to dancing and dressing up for prom. It’s not every day you get to dance on a dance floor with a bunch of people and dress up in a long dress with heels.”
At the start of the evening, junior emcees Zachary Fujita and Lynn Ono announced the results of the Promposal Contest. The winners were seniors Jarred Hee and Kayla Look, with Hee’s thoughtful promposal, which documented the couple’s history. Fujita and Ono then declared a lip sync battle, which would determine which table gets be first in line for the buffer. Three predetermined couples battled it out to their song of choice. Based off of the volume of the crowd’s cheers, Keiko Sanders and Travis Lau’s lip sync to “You’re the One that I Want” was declared the winner.
After dinner, the juniors presented the seniors with a slideshow featuring senior photos and a few words from their advisers. Due to technical difficulties, however, half of the video was unable to play. “It was really sweet for the juniors to do that,” said senior Noelle Nakamura. “If we got to see the whole thing, it would’ve been better. But you know, it’s fine; it made senior prom memorable.”
To end the program portion of the night, the results of the prom court were announced. Juniors Matt Butay and Katelyn Nakagawa were named as prom Prince and Princess. “Going into prom I knew that I was nominated,” stated Nakagawa. “I also knew that the results were close, so I definitely did not expect to win. In the end, I was very surprised and honored to win.” Seniors Nui Sabas and Kayci Kumashiro were crowned as prom King and Queen. Sabas stated, “I was quite surprised [to win], but I guess it was a 50 percent chance. However, I’m blessed and truly thankful for winning prom king because it’s something that I’ll probably remember for the rest of my life and it’s just that cool thing to win. And plus I like the free crown I got.” The two couples had the honor of having the first dance.
For the rest of the night, the students were free to dance, take pictures, and visit the photo booth. Senior Tori Ono said “The most fun part was the dancing. Even though it’s sad to think that this was our last prom and banquet together, I’m glad that I got to be with my best friends and make memories with them.”
Reflecting on his prom experience, senior Kellen Takatsuka said, “Your last prom is your last dance. After that, you’re ready to move on to college, and I think you start reminiscing and looking back on your years at HBA, and the people who have been a part of your life.”
Photographs by Paige Oshiro (’17) and Ishikawa Photography.