By Paige Hilliard ’18
When I tell people that I go to Punahou their jaw immediately hits the floor. They then follow with a series of questions and comments. If they’re from Hawaii they ask “What do the cars at pick up look like?” I say “cars?” then they ask “Do your classmate’s act like snobs?” I say “No, my classmates act like my classmates.” It’s worse when they aren’t from Hawaii because then you get questions laced with stereotypes like “Do you sleep in the jungle” I say “Yes. We found some extra thatch for our roofs the other day, right behind our guest jungle hammock.” And they like to follow up with “Do you ride dolphins to school?” I say “No! We domesticated the mongoose and ride them to school.” However, the most common response whether they’re from Hawaii or not is “You go to Obama’s school!?” Every time I say the same thing “No, I go to Punahou. It’s true Obama did graduate from Punahou but Punahou is much more complex than a common known fact.” Punahou is much more than a stereotype or a rumor. Punahou is where I knocked the wind out of myself jumping off the Barwick swings. Where I watched both of my sibling’s graduate. Punahou is where I met the late and great even legendary English teacher Liz Foster. Where I played varsity volleyball. Where I learned how to pronounce Pauahi. Where we sat in the quad and talked about the future. Where we played boat ball for hours. Punahou is where we as a class danced, laughed, sang and broke boundaries. Punahou is the placed that helped us grow into the young persons that we are today. And now we have to say goodbye and move on to our next chapters in lives.
I don’t know about you guys but that to me sounds, terrifying. We have to leave our communities, our families, and our support systems. Nothing can prepare us for that. There is no AP Moving-away-from-home class, No BC How-to-not-be-homesick elective. We have to do this one on our own. They’ve given us the tools and now it is time to make a real-world application but the hardest thing to remember while taking on this challenge is as said by the king of pop “You are not alone”. You are entering a school where almost all the students are doing the same thing as you. Yes, we are coming from Hawaii but other than that we aren’t special. While you’re looking at old pictures and crying in your dorm room there are at least twenty other kids on your floor doing the same thing. And if you can’t find them remember that the class of 2018 is one phone call away.
Whether you’ve been here for 13 years, 5 years or 2 months. You have been inducted into the Punahou class of 2018. A life-long friendship that I’m sorry but you cannot unsubscribe from, you’re stuck with us. We as a class get to walk away from those front gates and depart to new adventures. The adventures that Punahou has more than prepared us for mentally, emotionally and physically. From the rigorous classes that tested our intellectual limits to the S.E.C.R. credits that progressed our emotional intelligence to the what feels like 5-mile campus we trek every day.
I would like to say thank you on behalf of the class of 2018. Thank you Punahou for the achieving every aim in an education we could ask for and then some. Thank you Parents for staying by our sides in good times and bad times and giving us a jumpstart every once in a while. Thank you, friends, for reminding us that no matter how hard it might be there is always a someone to bring an Andy’s sandwich to your 2:30 math class. And Thank you class of 2018 for being you, in all you diverse weird and amazing glory.
Now, I leave you with this, Punahou is known across the nation as “Obama’s school” because he was able to take his education and made an impact. I’m not saying that we all need to go on to become the next president of the United States of America but we must go on and become something. This is our chance Class of 2018 to make Punahou a household name with our doctors, actors, lawyers, teachers, diplomats, models, social workers, engineers, and more. When they think of Punahou let so many names flood their minds that they cannot assign Punahou to one being but honor the amount of incredible people that come from the institution itself. While you’re out there taking the world by storm, I have one request, with all that we have been given, do the unexpected.