By Dawn Nekoba, PFA Grade 9 Representative P’19, ’27
The start of the 2023 school year was exciting as we welcomed ninth graders to a special orientation to Punahou Academy. Starting high school can be daunting, so the Grade 9 Orientation was created to ease the transition to the Academy. Ninth grade orientation, was piloted in 2019 and ran in limited form for the last three years. This year, the full event welcomes students who are new to Punahou and those who are moving up to the Academy.
During this year’s orientation, ninth graders spent the day getting to know their fellow classmates and the Academy campus. They were able to start by bonding with their advisory classmates and teachers. Advisory is designed to be a student’s school family as students meet with the same peers for four years in high school, much like a homeroom class. Advisory is led by one or two faculty members who lead and collaborate with this student group during their four years of Academy. Our PFA Advisory Parents begin as room parents in Grade 9 and serve for all four years with the same advisory teachers and students.
Some of our Grade 9 Advisory parents, along with PFA leadership, were asked to assist with a project envisioned by the Class of 2027 deans and Department Chair Support + Wellness Maureen MacLeod. Dr. MacLeod wanted to create and distribute more than 450 new lanyards to the incoming ninth graders. She hoped that each of the 24 advisory classes would be represented by a unique color and patterned lanyard to hang student identification cards for the year.
“The goal was for students to be able to visibly connect with their advisories,” according to Dr. MacLeod.
This fun project was also a way to involve parents more actively in the Academy. PFA volunteers turned Dr. MacLeod’s vision into a reality by collecting fabric, creating a pattern and sewing the lanyards in time for the orientation. They did an amazing job.
Dr. MacLeod commented, “The kids and teachers love them. It’s so fun to be on campus now and see the different lanyards being worn proudly! …Everyone was thrilled, and many said it was the highlight of the day to receive such a thoughtful and personally made gift.”
I am so thankful for all the wonderful parents of the Class of 2027. They are always so giving of their time. As the PFA Grade 9 Representative, I really enjoy helping out with projects such as this one. I get to meet new people, and I am able to give back to the Punahou community. PFA volunteers are one of the reasons this school is so exceptional. I have taken on many roles in many committees. When my son was in the Academy, I participated as a Carnival Chicken Plate Booth Chair, plus I worked on the Graduation kahili committee and the Post-Graduation event. Looking back, I cherish those experiences because I made friends with parents of my son’s classmates, and I got to share experiences with my son. These four years of Academy go by so fast. I want to cherish these milestones with my daughter.
Mahalo to the PFA volunteers and faculty who helped our Academy ninth graders start the year off right.
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