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Pacific Islander High School Seniors to be Honored

Pacific Islander High School Ceremony

Class of 2018 waiting to take the Stage during Pacific Islander High School Graduate Recognition Ceremony

San Bernardino, CA — Polynesian fireknife dancing and the sacred blowing of the Hawaiian conch shell are just part of a vibrant ceremony that will honor Pacific Islander high school seniors from across Southern California. The second annual Pacific Islander High School Graduate Recognition Ceremony (PIGRC) will take place Friday, May 10, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the San Bernardino Valley College Greek Theatre (701 South Mount Vernon Ave. San Bernardino, CA 92410).

Students who are graduating from San Diego, Inland Empire, Los Angeles, Long Beach and surrounding counties, and who identify as Pacific Islander are invited to participate in the cultural celebration. The event is free and open to the public. Students pay a registration fee of $10.00.

Related Story – 2018, First Annual Pacific Islander High School Graduate Recognition Ceremony

PIGRC Founder, Francine Cepeda Blacksher, Superintendent of San Bernardino City Unified School District, Dr. Dale Marsden, and keynote speaker Siaosi Veimau will attend. Veimau, who immigrated to the US from Tonga at age ten, and his wife, Ida Veimau started a cultural group, Kaliloa o Kaleo’onalani with San Diego State University’s Pacific Islander Student Association. They have educated people from a span of four generations on preserving Pacific Islander culture and dance.

Veimau looks forward to speaking to the graduating Class of 2019. “My vision for every student is to discover who they are and to be intentional about their dreams and passions. Our Pacific Islander roots keep us grounded. It’s important to remember who you are, where you grew up and to give back to the next generation.”

The PGIRC ceremony will feature artists from San Diego including, Kaliloa o Kaleo’onalani, Fireknife dancer, Janelle Fejeran and Spoken word poet, Ronia Auelua. “The demonstrations are meant to empower the graduates with art forms deeply rooted in Pacific Islander culture,” said Cepeda Blacksher. She noted the goal of PIGRC is to unify, celebrate and honor Pacific Islander students and to ultimately be a pathway toward higher education and career development.

Cepeda Blacksher has plans to bring PIGRC to San Diego and other Southern California counties over the next few years. “I chose to focus immediately on the Inland Empire because we are in great need of support in unifying advocacy and community for Pacific Islander youth K-12.”

Students can register at Registration includes a personalized graduation certificate and a Pacific Islander sash.

For interviews or to see dynamic demonstrations please contact, Allura Garis at or 619-319-0209. Opportunities also exist for the day of the event at San Bernardino Valley College Greek Theatre.

2019 PIGRC Program

Date: May 10, 2019

Location: San Bernardino Valley College Greek Theatre (701 South Mount Vernon Ave. San Bernardino, CA 92410)

About PRIGC Founder

Francine Cepeda Blacksher is a long-term educational leader with a commitment to equity in education, social justice, and inclusion. She was honored in spring 2019 as a “Women of the Year” finalist by the 42nd Assembly District. Cepeda Blacksher completed her undergraduate studies in sociology at San Diego State University, where she served as President of the university’s Pacific Islander Student Association. She earned her teaching credential at California State University San Marcos. She currently works as an Educational Specialist for the San Bernardino City Unified School District.

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