Aloha to our Retirees

By Cynthia Wessendorf

Punahou bid farewell to 20 beloved colleagues, who retired after the 2019 – 2020 school year. Mahalo for your many contributions to the School.

From left: Haunani Dalton ’70 Abdul, Carl Ackerman, Cornelio Aganon, Malia Ane ’72

Haunani Dalton ’70 Abdul
Junior School Faculty – Grade 3
For the past 19 years, Abdul has taught third graders, which she considers her dream job. She says it was a great privilege to have spent her days with children who are discovering their talents, pursuing their interests and showing an eagerness to learn. “My Punahou experience has been such a gift,” she said. “Every day has been new, exciting, heartwarming and fun.”

Carl Ackerman
Academy Faculty – Social Studies
In his 28 years teaching history, Ackerman might be best known for launching the PUEO program, as well as securing a $6 million gift to sustain the program – the largest foundation gift in Punahou’s history. His retirement years will be busy, with directorships of three nonprofits and
various community service projects.

Cornelio Aganon
Aganon has loved his job working with the maintenance team for the past 27 years. From the age of 7, he worked as a farmer in the Philippines, planting and harvesting rice and other vegetables. He moved to Hawai‘i in 1990. He looks forward to spending time with his large family, including nine grandchildren.

Malia Ane ’72
Co-Director of Hawaiian Studies
During her more than 40-year career at Punahou, Ane taught second and third grade, served as director of K – 12 Hawaiian Studies, and was instrumental in integrating Hawaiian studies throughout the School’s curriculum. She also was lead coordinator of a program that supported the educational mission of Hokule‘a’s 2014 – 2017 worldwide voyage.

From left: Myron Arakawa ’66, Mel Avenue, Jason Bayudan, Patricia Lota ’73 Duncan

Myron Arakawa ’66
Director of College Counseling
When Arakawa took over Punahou’s college counseling in 1997, he arrived with 16 years’ experience as a school counselor. He reshaped the college search approach to focus on “good matches and appropriate fit,” and making sure students felt cared for and confident. “When you’re dedicated to helping young people, it’s a calling, a responsibility, more than work,” he said.

Mel Avenue
As a carpenter, Avenue said Carnival and Alumni Lu¯‘au were the most labor-intensive events, but also the most rewarding. He looks forward to splitting time between his homes on O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island, where he plans to spend time with his 3-year-old granddaughter, work on
his house and go hunting and fishing.

Jason Bayudan
Bayudan has devoted 25 years to keeping the campus clean and tidy. He has enjoyed working in a friendly environment, and has lived his motto: “Treat others how you want to be treated.” He looks forward to spending more relaxed time with his children and grandchildren.

Patricia Lota ’73 Duncan
After arriving at Punahou in 1998, Duncan was tasked with converting from the Wang computer system to Senior Systems. Despite the challenge, Punahou was a natural fit as she and her siblings all attended the School, as did her husband and three children. She looks forward to more Zumba, cardio circuit,
hula and swimming, and having fun with her four grandchildren.

Top row from left: John Field ’72, Naomi Hirano-Omizo, Laurel Bowers ’71 Husain, Hella Kihm. Middle row from left: Remigio Labasan, Martha Mesrobian ’71 Lanzas, Susan Abe ’70 Oi, Ranelle Omura. Bottom row from left: Heather Shepard ’78 Shannon, Resi Ditzel Suehiro, JoLinda Susilo, Jennifer Tyau

John Field ’72
Vice President and Treasurer
During his 20 years at Punahou, Field has overseen $200 million in new construction, daily meals to over 4,450 students and employees, maintenance of over 750 trees, photovoltaic installations, financial recordkeeping, technology updates, hiring and dozens of other essential services. “We all have a common mission – serving our students – and that is rare in an organization,” he said.

Naomi Hirano-Omizo
Junior School/Academy Faculty – Japanese
Along with Japanese language instruction, Hirano-Omizo taught students about Japanese culture, community service and world peace, which she views as the ultimate goal of language teachers. As she leaves the classroom, she looks forward to community volunteering, spending time with her mother, traveling and visiting her daughter, a 2014 Punahou graduate, in Boston.

Laurel Bowers ’71 Husain
Communications Counsel
While she spent the past two years focused on Archives and the missionary bicentennial, Husain is best known for leading the Communications team for 18 years. The department grew dramatically during her tenure, driven by changes in technology, priorities and “external expectations of a school the caliber of Punahou.” She said she has always treasured her family’s long history at the School, and Punahou’s long history in Hawai‘i.

Hella Kihm
Junior School Faculty – Grades 7 – 8 Latin
Kihm is a true student of language, and has taught German, English, Spanish, French and Latin. She fondly recalls trips she led to Europe, where she helped students become comfortable with international travel. It was fulfilling to see many students gaining “wider, deeper views of the world and more confidence in their own abilities to make the world a better place,” she said.

Remigio Labasan
Punahou has been fortunate to have Labasan for the past 26 years, where he diligently maintained the School grounds. He said he has enjoyed having teachers and students thank him for his efforts or engaging him in regular conversations. While he will miss the community, he looks forward to spending time with his family, which includes seven grown children and nine grandchildren.

Martha Mesrobian ’71 Lanzas
Visual Production Center (VPC) Technician
During her 27 years with the VPC, Lanzas helped prepare countless instructional materials for those across the campus. She also is a skilled cellist, who taught in the Punahou Music School, and played in pit orchestras for Dillingham musicals and senior independent theatre projects.

Susan Abe ’70 Oi
Assistant Media Design Technician
A ceramics and art history double major, Oi designed posters, signs, booklets and more with the Visual Production Center team. Her artistic interests are wide-ranging, and include the Hawaiian tradition of lauhala. She even coordinated a lauhala class for the 2019 and 2020 G-Terms. Among her favorite Punahou memories is participating in Alumni Glee Club.

Ranelle Omura
Food Service Worker
With 28 years of service, Omura made sandwiches and cashiered for second and third graders. She loves their “energy, innocence and curiosity,” which she attributes to keeping her young at heart. She is fond of watching shy students blossom. Once, for example, while cleaning up a big spill, a quiet student wrapped her arms around her and said, “You look like you need a big hug.”

Heather Shepard ’78 Shannon
Junior School Faculty – Grades 5 – 8 Math
To finish her quarter century with Punahou, Shannon spent the past year helping teachers implement the new enVision math program, supporting students who needed extra assistance and co-coaching the middle school math team. She spent previous years teaching first, third, fourth and seventh grades, which let her to memorable trips to Hawai‘i Island and Maui and day camps on O‘ahu.

Resi Ditzel Suehiro
Junior School Faculty – Kindergarten
At the start of each year, Suehiro enjoyed the excitement of meeting “25 eager children and their anxious parents.” At the year’s end, the rising first graders create memory boxes, which they open again during senior year. It’s occasions like these that she will miss as she leaves the classroom, where she spent 18 years cherishing “bright eyes and happy smiles and that moment when something clicks.”

JoLinda Susilo
Junior School Faculty – Grades 4 – 5 Music
Susilo became enraptured with music after sneaking into a gospel church in her hometown of Chicago. “I do not remember the song,” she recalls, “but I remember that every fiber of my being was shaking.” In her 33 years with Punahou, she has enjoyed being part of a “creative, inspired and idealistic ‘ohana dedicated to bringing out the best in our students.”

Jennifer Tyau
Grade 8 Administrative Dean
Arriving in 1978 to teach eighth grade math, Tyau joined the group that worked to reshape the middle school learning environment. The team eventually shifted to the programming and physical design of the Case Middle School. She has valued her relationships with colleagues who “shared the fundamental commitment to putting students’ needs and learning first.”

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