Convocation Speakers Invite Community to Weave a Mat that Seats Many

This Aug. 15, Punahou ushered in the 2023 – 2024 school year with an inspiring Convocation ceremony on Alexander Field, featuring speeches from President Mike Latham ’86, Board Chair Wendy Crabb, Junior School Principal Todd Chow-Hoy, Academy Principal Gustavo Carrera and Senior Class President Jade McGuinn ’24. The event – which included students and faculty from grades 2 – 12 – started with a blessing from Chaplain Josh Hayashi,who also led a heartfelt prayer for those affected by the fires in Lahaina in early August.

President Latham noted that students have choices to make this new school year; some mundane – but others with meaningful consequences that shape the overall experiences of members in our community. “There are two choices that I hope you will make each day. The first one is that I hope you decide to bring your very best self to school … and  that you will put forth the kind of effort that shows you are excited about what you are learning,” he said. 

“The second choice that I hope you make is to decide to support the people around you,” he noted. “That you are going to be known not only by your incredible achievements but by your incredible kindness. Kindness will cost you nothing – but it is truly priceless.” 

President Latham encouraged students to pursue the full measure of opportunities available beyond the classroom – whether it is in athletics, the arts or special clubs – because pursuing these interests can often be a conduit for finding meaningful relationships. 

Board Chair Wendy Crabb spoke about the importance of belonging and inclusivity. “Each of us seeks this sense of belonging – whether it is with a close circle of friends, on the field, in the gym, in a dance recital or participating in the band,” she noted. Crabb infused language from the new Punahou mission statement into her speech. “From under the hala tree we weave a mat that seats many – so I urge you to share your mat and to extend a hand of friendship. You will be amazed at the unexpected gifts, the connections and friendships that this will bring to you.” 

Speakers also took time to highlight the Chapel theme of the year: “Weaving a Mat that Seats Many.” The theme was inspired by a line from Punahou’s new mission statement, which embodies the School’s commitment to inclusivity and unity. Related to the theme is the ‘Olelo No‘eau, “Ulana i ka Piko,” which translates to “When weaving, begin with the center.” 

“This year’s ‘Olelo No‘eau invites us to look inward and ask ourselves: who am I? What is at the heart of all that I think, do and say?”said Chow-Hoy. He urged students to turn inward for answers, and to not be afraid to push boundaries or to deviate from following a script; even when they feel they should adhere to one. “If we embrace who we are and live it fully, our individual contribution to the tapestry of Kapunahou will result in a community that will be both distinctive and welcoming for all.” 

For his part, Principal Carrera emphasized the significance of Convocation. “Today is not just another day,” he noted. “It is a day filled with significance and promise of the unknown. The year ahead may be veiled with uncertainty – but remember, it is an elaborate tapestry that we are weaving together.” 

Senior Class President McGuinn concluded the morning program by inviting the audience to make a special pledge. “Let’s make a promise to each other to make the most of every moment.”

It was an exciting day all around. The celebration continued in the afternoon with a joyous Keiki Convocation for first graders at the Omidyar K – 1 Neighborhood.

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