Mahalo From 2023 – 2024 PFA President 

Mike Lee ’00, P’28, ’30

When I find others talking about Punahou School, the conversation generally centers around academic achievement, learning environments, state-of-the-art facilities, and the vast opportunities for students to engage in the arts and athletics. While these facets are some of the pillars the school is known for, I am quick to let them know that the foundation upon which these pillars are built is the community itself. 

The Punahou School community is a mat that seats many and that includes populations beyond the administration, faculty and students. On that mat are the countless staff that keep operations going hours after the last students have left campus, a grateful base of alumni who continue to support the school in a variety of ways, and thousands of parents who have sacrificed so that their children have the chance to become the best versions of themselves. I have had the privilege of being a member of this community as a student, alumni, faculty, coach and parent; and it is perhaps as a parent that I have learned the most. And what I have learned is that to give our children their best chance to be their best selves we also have to be our best and that’s not always easy. 

When my first child started at Punahou, the last thing in the world I wanted to do was join an additional parent organization in my child’s life; especially one that I felt I didn’t fit in with or belong to. Despite being an alumnus it was the new school lunch dilemma all over again. Who do I know? Which parents have something in common with me? Whose children are friends with mine? I honestly felt like I did not belong anywhere and that I would be happily relegated to enjoying my children’s experience through a window framed by others… But I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

After an invitation from a friend all it took… was getting past myself, coming on out, and giving it a shot to see what an incredible community the PFA is—a place where parents and faculty work together to round out our children’s experience and education. Before I knew it, I was facilitating leadership training, joining the new family welcoming committee, accepting a position on the board to support volunteering, and hosting schoolwide online meetings during the pandemic. By volunteering to help others, I found a place in the community where I belonged and could enjoy my child’s experience firsthand because I was a part of it. In volunteering with the PFA, I was forced to become the best version of myself as a leader, friend and parent. 

Nine years later, I am finishing my responsibilities as PFA President. The experience of working with others in my community has been a privilege and an honor. I would like to thank this year’s PFA Board and Leadership team for their inspired efforts and unyielding belief in each other. I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish, and I am looking forward to an exciting new year under the leadership of Emmie Kia, PFA President, and her PFA Leadership team for the school year 2024 – 2025. Please join me in welcoming them, and if you ever feel so inclined… get past yourself, come on out, and give it a shot. 

Me ke aloha pumehana
Mike Lee, PFA President 2023 – 2024

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