Sequim High School sophomore Kyah Fukunaga (right) tries out her new acoustic-electric guitar she received during the school’s Winter Wishes assembly on Dec. 13. She practices with Joyful Noise Music Center instructor John Mangiameli (left) at the center during a music lesson. Sequm Gazette photo by Erin Hawkins

Sequim High School sophomore Kyah Fukunaga (right) tries out her new acoustic-electric guitar she received during the school’s Winter Wishes assembly on Dec. 13. She practices with Joyful Noise Music Center instructor John Mangiameli (left) at the center during a music lesson. Sequm Gazette photo by Erin Hawkins

Winter wishes granted

Sequim High School sophomore Kyah Fukunaga will be strumming away on a new acoustic-electric guitar this winter break thanks to the school’s annual Winter Wishes assembly.

Fukunaga was among many other Sequim High School students that received a special gift at the school’s 2017 Winter Wishes assembly on Dec. 13.

The assembly is an annual school program that aims to celebrate the idea of giving by having students write down a gift wish for themselves, to other students, or to donate their wish to a child in need.

Fukunaga said she wrote down a wish for her friend Jax Thaxton and he wrote down a gift for her — an acoustic-electric guitar.

“I really have been wanting a guitar this last year,” Fukunaga said. “Music is pretty important to me.”

Fukunaga plays the acoustic guitar and the ukulele regularly and is a student at Joyful Noise Music Center in Sequim.

Joyful Noise donated the acoustic-electric guitar to the assembly, not knowing the recipient would be one of their students.

John Mangiameli, a music teacher at Joyful Noise, said the business usually contributes a musical gift to the high school for the assembly each year. He said it was a pleasant surprise to learn Fukunaga was going to receive the guitar.

“We didn’t originally know,” Mangiameli said. “It turned out in the end it wasn’t a stranger.”

Last week, assembly organizers said Fukunaga is involved in both SHS leadership and Future Business Leaders of America clubs.

“We’ve noticed that she is constantly volunteering to help other people,” they said, “(she is) always giving back to her community.”

Mangiameli said Fukunaga is a dedicated music student and she is always practicing on the guitar.

“You know she’s going to practice because she cares,” Mangiameli said.

When Fukunaga isn’t in school, she said she practices guitar regularly for several hours.

About 230 other students and staff received gifts at the assembly including hand-knit items from teacher Laura Gould, laptop computers, a school sing-along and a dance from the school’s ASB leadership, to name a few. Thaxton, Fukunaga’s friend, received a map of North America.

Many students were surprised to have received gifts, including senior Cody Bell, a Denver Broncos fan from Utah, who received a Seattle Seahawks jersey from one of his friends who wished it for him.

“I didn’t expect my name to be up there,” Bell said.

Bell and his friends were in a comical uproar when they announced his name at the assembly.

SHS leadership teacher Sean O’Mera said the assembly aims to be a positive experience for students who may not have things to look forward to over the winter break and it’s also a way to give back to students.

“My mission is to better the school,” O’Mera said. “It’s all about giving instead of receiving.”

He said many of the school organizations on campus also took on wishes this year such as the Honor Society and Mrs. Miller’s Spanish and sign language classes.

As one final wish to students, class was dismissed after the assembly for the rest of the school day.

Learn more about Winter Wishes at www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoltW2PkRnE.

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