Ishikawa, Omori top MBA graduating class

Marianas Baptist Academy graduates 17

Seventeen graduates of Marianas Baptist Academy fought back tears in a moving commencement ceremony last Friday at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-purpose Center.

Students of the 27th graduating class were graced with several honors and awards witnessed by dozens of school faculty and staff, family, and friends.

Following the confirmation of the graduates, students gave individual testimonies expressing their gratitude to key figures in their lives.

Alina Ishikawa and Kanata Omori were presented the highest academic honors and were named as the class’ valedictorians.

Ishikawa, in her remarks, said that Friday’s event was “bittersweet.”

“It is finally our turn to close this chapter of high school and write the sequel to the story we end today,” she told her classmates. “College is a new start that introduces new friends, but you will always remain my originals.”

“It is time to move on and continue on our own separate ways. I hope that you all enjoy college life and I wish you all the best of luck in everything you do,” said Ishikawa, who will be studying Pharmacy at the Northeastern University.

The 17-year-old student expressed gratitude to the school’s faculty, teachers, and her parents, Akemi and Juko Ishikawa.

Fellow valedictorian Kanata Omori sympathized with Ishikawa.

“Life as a student of Marianas Baptist Academy is not easy, but it is rewarding,” he said in his address. “I want to thank my parents for everything. From birth until present, they have stuck by me through it all.”

He told his fellow graduates, “We aren’t starting a new chapter in our lives, we are merely continuing on a much bigger scale. Don’t change who you are, because once you do that, you start to lost sight of what truly matters.”

Omori, who also received the Leadership Award, plans to study communication at the University of Virginia. He is the son of Annarose and Takahiro Omori.

The school also named two salutatorians—Yui Naomi Ito and Kristian Brian Reyes.

Michael Kevin Cataluna, Alina Ishikawa, Kanata Omori, Sang Hyuk Park, and Denise Rae Samson received the Loyalty Award. The award is given to students who have attended the academy since junior high school.

Michael Kevin Cataluna and Susanne Mariane Park were named as the most improved students.

“I am finally done writing one chapter of my life.” senior graduate Denise Rae Samson told Saipan Tribune. “Now, here I go making another one.”

The commencement ceremony’s keynote speaker was Mariana Resort & Spa general manager Gloria Cavanagh, who told the graduates of her experience transitioning from high school to college. She urged the students to find what makes them happy.

“Find what makes you happy. Happy short term like ice cream and chocolate chip cookies or long term like a family and a career,” she said. “Have fun in college, meet new people, take a course outside of your norm, explore your vast surroundings, try different food, and experience different cultures.”

Sometimes, she said, people discover that what truly makes them happy is something they would have never thought about.

She added, “Always remember that you win some and lose some. It is what you do when you lose that determines your character.”

School president Rev. Ramiro H. Trinidad congratulated the students on closing the high school chapter of their lives and congratulated their parents on their success.

“It is OK to fail,” he told the students. “You must think of life as a journey. Think of ways to make the journey more present for others as well as yourselves.”


  • Chelsea Marie B. Bartolo: Bob Jones University, Pre-med
  • Vanessa Rome B. Bartolo: Pensacola Christian College, Pharmacy
  • Michael Kevin Cataluna: Houston Community College, Petroleum Engineering
  • Alina Ishikawa: Northeastern University, Pharmacy
  • Yui Naomi M. Ito: DePaul University, Psychology
  • Daa Hyeon Jeung: Auckland University, Childhood Education
  • Doo Ho Kim: Northern Marianas College, Education
  • Chris Nhoel Obaldo: Walla Walla University, undeclared
  • Kanata Espiritu Omori: University of Virginia, Communication
  • San Hyuk Park: Les Roches Jin Jiang College, International Hotel Management
  • Susanne Mariane Park: Ohio State University, Psychology
  • Primo Domingo Po: Kingsborough College, Business
  • Hoffmann Pun: Northern Marianas College, undeclared
  • Kristian Brian Reyes: Mounthood Community College, Engineering
  • Jacinia Tiche Richards: Northern Marianas College, undeclared
  • Denise Rae Samson: Lamar Institute of Technology, Nutrition

Thomas Manglona II | Correspondent

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