Punahou Bulletin

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Summer 2016

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175th Anniversary

On the morning of Aug. 27, 2015, giant banners inscribed with “175” swayed in the breeze on Alexander Field, the splash of buff and blue vibrant against the green of the field. The excitement of Convocation was palpable as thousands of students in grades 2 – 12, teachers and staff buzzed in their seats, a sign that the 2015 – 2016 school year would be no ordinary year.

By Rachel Breitweser ’03

On the morning of Aug. 27, 2015, giant banners inscribed with “175” swayed in the breeze on Alexander Field, the splash of buff and blue vibrant against the green of the field. The excitement of Convocation was palpable as thousands of students in grades 2 – 12, teachers and staff buzzed in their seats, a sign that the 2015 – 2016 school year would be no ordinary year.

“How will you add to what has been created over the last 175 years? And 175 years from now, what will history reflect about our time here at Punahou?” Junior School Principal Paris Priore-Kim ’76 asked the audience, denoting the start of the School’s 175th anniversary and indicating what was in store for the historic year.

Looking to the past and to the future were the hallmarks of the anniversary and the ripples that made waves throughout the entire school year. The movement was felt across generations and geography, connecting the global Punahou community and creating the framework for Punahou’s bicentennial.

The memorable year was filled with notable performances, not-to-be-missed surprises and an outpouring of Buff ’n Blue spirit. Here’s a look back.

Remembering the Past

“E ho‘olohe! Listen as we weave together the story of a Hawaiian named ‘Opukaha‘ia, who traveled to New England in 1809, inspiring seven young American couples to become the first company of missionaries to Hawai‘i,” said narrator Summer Derrickson ’16. The beat of an ipu and chanting students clad in modest 1800s-era garb signaled the start of the Founders Play, written by faculty and enacted by students.

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In 1829, the lands of Ka Punahou were in the care of Boki, the governor of O‘ahu, and his wife Liliha (whose grandfather, Kame‘eiamoku, received the lands as a gift from Kamehameha I). It was through the influence of Queen Ka‘ahumanu that the Sandwich Islands Mission was granted the Punahou lands.

Dramatic performances helped set the stage for the historic year, providing a frame of reference and perspective on the significance of the 175th. They inspired reflection and further inquiry from students and also brought the wider Punahou community together.

The Founders Play spanned 50 years and told the story of the creation of the School 175 years ago, while honoring Punahou’s Hawaiian and Christian roots. It was performed for all students, K – grade 12, during Chapel services and at a special event attended by over 400 members of the Punahou community.

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A young Hawaiian named Henry ‘Opukaha‘ia left the Islands aboard a cargo vessel to New England in 1809. There, he inspired seven young American couples to become the first company of missionaries to Hawai‘i and begin the work of converting the Hawaiian people to Christianity.

The First Generation play picked up where the Founders Play left off: “It was the morning of July 11, 1842. Opening day had arrived.” The play, written by Lizzy Cooper ’63 Lowrey and her students in 1991 to honor Punahou’s 150th anniversary, was based on original journals and newspaper articles written by the first Punahou students and revived by current Junior School drama teacher Heather Taylor ’92 to pay homage to the 175th.

The play depicted the daily experiences of Punahou students in 1842, many of which, such as working in the gardens, studying the stars and giving class presentations, apply to students at Punahou today.

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Hiram and Sybil Bingham in a 1819 portrait painted by Samuel F. B. Morse. The Binghams arrived in Honolulu on April 19, 1820, as members of the first company of missionaries to the Sandwich Islands. Upon receiving the lands of Ka Punahou from Boki and Liliha, the Binghams worked tirelessly to cultivate the area and were instrumental in the founding of Punahou School.

Strengthening Tradition

Annual events became that much more dazzling and memorable with the added flair of the anniversary. “Our mission was to help students understand the significance of the anniversary and celebrate it schoolwide,” said Trustee and Chair of the 175th Steering Committee Ethan Abbott ’72. “The more they knew about it, the more they could feel included.”

For this year’s Carnival, “Rewind the Time: The Punahou Journey,” juniors went back in time to commemorate highlights from the School’s history. “The theme celebrated all the special memories from being a student at Punahou and the big moments in Punahou’s past,” explained student co-chairs Calais Nobuhara ’17 and Branden Morioka ’17.

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The Class of 2017 Carnival chairs and President Jim Scott ’70 led a rousing parade along Chamberlain Drive to kick off Carnival weekend.

The retrospective theme was best illustrated in the Carnival cloth. Decorated with a collage of snapshots representing Punahou – imagery of the Lily Pond, May Day and Holoku, and the Flaming “P” – the fabric honored the traditions celebrated by students throughout history.

Similarly, this year’s Flaming “P” was unlike any other. The spectacular “P” was embellished by a flaming “175.” The conclusion of the evening was marked by an ovation from the audience as the sky behind the stage erupted in a radiant fireworks show. “Emotions ran high,” recalled Abbott. “You could feel the excitement and hear the ‘oohs and ahhs’ from the large crowd.”

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An unforgettable fireworks display was the perfect finale to an extra special Flaming “P.”

Moments like these exemplified the celebration of the anniversary, in addition to the countless student-created works, such as class shirts emblazoned with “175,” hand-drawn birthday cards expressing wishes for the future of the School created by students K – 12, and loving tributes to Punahou’s iconography, like night-blooming cereus blossoms delicately crafted from clay for a student art show.

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Students in K – 12 worked together to create birthday cards with wishes for the future of Punahou. The cards were displayed in “Punahou Mau a Mau,” the 175th Anniversary Exhibit in Cooke Library.

An Extraordinary Year

The celebration of the 175th year sparked creativity and reflection. No matter where you looked, signs of the remarkable year were evident and helped unify the Punahou community.

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May Day student directors Haylie Yrojo ’16 (front) and Chloey Ishii ’17 (back) designed custom outfits using the 175th anniversary fabric.

With yellow bursts of night-blooming cereus on a royal blue background patterned with famous campus scenes, a special fabric created by alumni paid tribute to Punahou’s history. From aloha shirts to mu‘umu‘u, and even custom-made garments, wearers sported the fabric at 175th-related occasions, infusing the events with school pride and solidarity.

“This year inspired many cross-campus conversations,” said Kikilia Fordham ’82, Punahou director of advancement initiatives, who coordinated the School’s events and activities to celebrate the anniversary. “It gave people the opportunity to work creatively and collaboratively, and it created a setup for celebrating Punahou in the future.”

Another nod to Punahou’s rich past was “Punahou Mau a Mau,” a community-driven, crowd-sourced exhibit inspired by Punahou’s 175th anniversary. Displayed in Cooke Library, a wall of activities from Punahou’s anniversary year represented the present, while birthday cards created by students in K – 12 expressed wishes for the School’s future.

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The 175th Anniversary Exhibit, “Punahou Mau a Mau,” was the result of many contributors whose efforts brought the past, present and future of Punahou to life.
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KAPUNAHOU – The 175th Anniversary Book.

The past was captured in “Punahou in 50 Objects,” which included dozens of artifacts and stories collected from faculty, staff, alumni and students over the past three years. One surprising addition to the exhibit was a personal letter from President Barack Obama ’79: “I still hold onto the Aloha Spirit and think of the lessons I learned at Punahou every day as I lead our Nation.”

A commemorative anniversary book, KAPUNAHOU, artfully encapsulates Punahou’s story through elegant campus photos, alumni profiles and essays, and was a collaborative effort among many noteworthy alumni. The keepsake hardback will endure as a stunning homage to Punahou for years to come.

A Resounding Success

The sights and sounds of song and dance also brought the celebrations to life. “We honor the past in all we say and do,” are lyrics from the 175th anniversary song, “Punahou Stand Strong,” created by Roslyn Freitas ’82 Catracchia. Catracchia, who wrote her senior class song, led the Class of 2016 in presenting the song at Commencement, bringing the alumna’s musical talents and love for Punahou full-circle.

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Dawn Barsana ’94 Szewczyk, Director of Advancement Initiatives Kikilia Fordham ’82, Vice President for Institutional Advancement Kathryn Nelson and Tessa Pang ’94 Patten share the 175th anniversary hula at the celebration in Singapore.

A hula entitled “Punahou,” originally created by Hattie Eldredge ’66 Phillips, was dedicated to the School’s 175th year. The dance was set to “Ka Punahou,” a song that honors the life-giving waters springing forth from beneath the hala tree. Students, faculty, parents, alumni and friends learned the dance and performed it together at 175th celebratory gatherings throughout the year and around the world, culminating at the alumni lu‘au in June when scores of alumni took to the aisles of the lu‘au tent to share in expressing their aloha.

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In one of the music videos for Punahou Sessions, Allen Murabayashi ’90 (keyboard) accompanied Jayna Wescoatt ’20 in a performance of “I Never Told You,” in front of the School’s oldest building: Old School Hall.

A set of live music videos created and produced by Allen Murabayashi ’90 also honored Punahou’s 175th anniversary. Punahou Sessions celebrated alumni and student musicians spanning the classes of 1946 – 2020. “It was a great example of the year’s highlight of the arts and appealed to alumni of every age,” said Fordham, as evidenced by the tens of thousands of viewers who have seen the videos. The videos featured musicians performing a variety of genres and were recorded live.

Celebrations Across the World

From its initial kickoff in London, Punahou’s 175th celebrations were not confined to campus. Gatherings took place in 12 cities, from Washington, D.C. to Hong Kong. Staff and administrators traveled to meet alumni and members of the Punahou community sharing news from the campus and connecting alumni with each other.

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Alumni, faculty, staff and friends of Punahou joined School leadership at the 175th anniversary celebration in Singapore.

“Today, Punahou is not just an island community, but a national and global community,” said President Jim Scott ’70 to alumni in Tokyo, Japan. Each event had its own character based on the uniqueness of its location.

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The Punahou Alumni Association Northern California (PAANC) hosted a festive lu‘au in Mill Valley with over 350 guests. Here, PAANC leadership, alumni, faculty and staff offer a toast to Punahou.

Celebrations included a baseball game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, lion dances and cultural toasts. “Singapore alumni had batik aloha shirts and dresses made from fabric produced in their country,” said Director of Alumni Relations Doug Rigg ’84, who attended the majority of the regional celebrations.

Although the events had their own local flavor, what was felt by all was the collective swelling of pride and flood of nostalgia for the School. “The goal of using the 175th year to galvanize alumni around the world to become more engaged with the School really did happen,” Fordham shared.

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From left: Director of Advancement Initiatives Kikilia Fordham ’82, President Jim Scott ’70, Kalpana Balaraman ’16, Punahou Alumni Association President Andy Bunn ’86, Myron Arakawa ’66 andTrustee Ethan Abbott ’72 led over 2,000 alumni in the 175th year’s final toast to Punahou School at the 2016 Alumni Lu‘au.

The enthusiasm reached a peak during the worldwide toast to Punahou at 18:41 local time on June 11, 2016. Graduates from as far away as France, Spain, Kenya, Iraq and Israel submitted photos and videos of themselves expressing their birthday wishes for the School. A compilation video was shown at Alumni Lu‘au and kicked off the toast on campus. “To our beloved Buff ’n Blue,” exclaimed Myron Arakawa ’66, Punahou’s director of college counseling. “To a future of unlimited possibility,” said Kalpana Balaraman ’16 as all raised a glass to Punahou.

The View Ahead

As part of the culmination of the 175th celebrations, over two thousand friends of Punahou gathered on campus to wish Punahou a happy 175th birthday on Thursday, June 9, 2016. Attendees reconnected with the School and rekindled old friendships as a prelude to the Alumni Lu‘au. Nostalgia took hold as visitors reacquainted themselves with campus through walking tours, reminisced about the historic objects on display in the 175th Anniversary Exhibit – “Punahou Mau

a Mau,” and listened to throwback tunes performed by the Punahou Jazz Band and guests. Together with the Punahou Trustees, the crowd sang a cheerful “Happy Birthday” before topping off the party with cake.

Although the birthday candles have been blown out, the effects of the 175th anniversary will shine on. “We haven’t only celebrated 175 years of the past,” said President Jim Scott ’70, who together with the Trustees, launched Ku‘u Punahou, a comprehensive campaign to transform teaching and learning at Punahou. “We’ve used the year to think about the next 25 years and what Punahou will be like at the bicentennial.”

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Trustee and Chair of the 175th Steering Committee Ethan Abbott ’72 and Trustee and Board Chair Kitty Sullivan ’75 Wo blow out the candles on the 175th birthday cake while Trustees Connie Hee ’70 Lau and Wendy Crabb look on. A 4-foot tall cake constructed by Waileia Mineshima-Eldredge ’94, campaign operations manager, served as the perfect backdrop for the joyous occasion.

Trustee Ethan Abbott ’72 echoed: “This year was a great springboard to start planning for the 200th anniversary. It was a reflection of the past and celebration of the future, and put Punahou at the forefront of people’s minds in the world at large.

“Punahou turned 175 years old,” Abbott continued. “But the School isn’t just brick and mortar, it’s a living, breathing entity, and we are all part of it.”