Distinguished Alumni Awards to be given during Hilo High Foundation’s annual dinner

Hilo High School Foundation Distinguished Alumni Awards will be awarded by foundation president Barry Taniguchi and vice president Allan Ikawa during the organization’s ninth annual Recognition Dinner at 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 1, at Sangha Hall.

The recipients this year are Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele, Nalani Kanaka‘ole and Mark Yamanaka.


Kanahele, PhD, a member of Hilo High School class of 1955 and kumu hula of Halau o Kekuhi, was born and raised in Keaukaha. She is widely recognized throughout the state as a scholar, educator and practitioner of Hawaiian culture. She is an accomplished writer, musician, stage and film producer, dedicated community leader and renowned kumu hula. She also is a longtime educator at Hawaii Community College.

Kanaka‘ole, a member of Hilo High class of 1964 and kumu hula of Halau o Kekuhi, also was born and raised in Keaukaha. She is a noted scholar, educator and hula choreographer, as well as a recognized art and cultural designer at Sig Zane Designs in Hilo.

Yamanaka, a member of Hilo High class of 1998, is an award-winning musician and singer. His first album, “Lei Puakenikeni,” was nominated for 10 Na Hoku Hanohano awards in 2011. He took home five — including Album of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year and Most Promising Artist of the year. Yamanaka’s musical calling began when he was 13 at Hilo Intermediate School. He learned how to play guitar while he was at Hilo High. He since has become a famous performer and singer of Hawaiian music. His second album, “Lei Maile,” won five Hoku awards in 2014. He regularly performs internationally and is recognized as a true musical treasure of Hilo.


Tickets to the annual event are $50 and include a special dinner catered by Don’s Grill. Special tables for group sponsors are available: Platinum, $1,500; Blue, $1,000; Gold, $750; and Viking, $500. The event is a great time for alums to put together a table with classmates while helping Hilo High and the foundation.

The Hilo High School Foundation is a tax-exempt foundation dedicated to enhancing the educational opportunities for students at Hilo High. For sponsors and purchasing tables, contact Art Taniguchi at 987-0287. For individual or small group ticket information, contact foundation secretary Newton Chu at 961-0406.

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