Punahou Bulletin

A Magazine for the Punahou School Family

Fall 2018

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Isabelle Rhee ’18 Named Presidential Scholar

Rhee is among 161 high school seniors across the country chosen from a pool of over 5,200 invited qualifying graduating seniors.

This spring, Isabelle Rhee ’18 was named a 2018 Presidential Scholar. Rhee is among 161 high school seniors across the country chosen from a pool of over 5,200 invited qualifying graduating seniors.

Initiated in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholar Program recognizes the nation’s highest-achieving seniors, honoring students based on excellence in academics and the arts, as well as leadership and contributions to their community. Since 1983, each Presidential Scholar has invited his or her most inspiring teacher to travel to Washington, D.C., to receive a Teacher Recognition Award from the U.S. Department of Education and to participate in the recognition events.

Rhee was editor in chief of “Ka Punahou,” a “Ka Wai Ola” contributor, a “Civil Beat” contributor, a Japanese and math tutor, a Chorale singer and club sport swimmer. At Punahou, she has received awards in English and Social Studies, Japanese and AP Environmental Science. She received the Principal’s Award as a sophomore and a President’s Award in her senior year. Outside Punahou, she received a Scholastic Arts and Writing Award and won the 2018 Hawai‘I Ninth Circuit Essay Contest for a piece on Japanese internment camps.

Rhee named Dr. Maureen MacLeod, Academy English faculty and advisor to “Ka Punahou” and “Ka Wai Ola,” as her most influential teacher and mentor.

“Isabelle is unforgettable. She is a joyful, engaged student and editor, and she is a gentle, caring soul whose warmth contributes so much to our advisory community,” said MacLeod.

“This experience has been very humbling because it makes me realize that I’m a product of circumstance. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support from my parents, my teachers and the School,” Rhee concluded. Rhee is also “very excited” to be joining the ranks of previous Presidential Scholars, Carter Nakamoto ’17 and Michael Chen ’16, whom she worked with at “Ka Punahou.”

Rhee and MacLeod attended the 2018 ceremony at the White House in June where each honoree received a Presidential Scholar Medallion.