PUEO Students Ready for Summer Program

The Clarence T.C. Ching PUEO (Partnerships in Unlimited Educational Opportunities) Program organized a technology and food assistance event on Friday, June 12, to support its first summer distance learning program.

Community partners, faculty and student volunteers participated in the campus event, to ensure that current PUEO students are equipped to take part. Now in its 16th year, PUEO is a partnership between Punahou and the Hawai‘i State Department of Education, in which approximately 325 students from public and other schools across Hawai‘i attend summer sessions at Punahou. Through 16 nominating DOE elementary schools, PUEO admits 45-50 rising sixth grade students with high academic potential, but low economic opportunity, to go through a seven-year summer academic program from 6th – 12th grade, free of charge. PUEO’s mission is to graduate scholars with the skills, confidence and resilience to be college-ready.

PUEO Director Kehau Kealoaha-Scullion ’80 has called PUEO 2020, “equity in motion,” and to ensure technology preparedness for distance learning, Punahou’s IT staff prepped 325 computers to loan to PUEO scholars (including 15 mailed to the Neighbor Islands), while Hawaiian Telcom and Spectrum provided wireless connectivity for PUEO families who lacked internet access. All PUEO faculty and teaching assistants completed a week of distance learning training and orientation for the June 15 to July 17 session.

Like students statewide, PUEO scholars have participated in distance learning through their home schools since March. “Our scholars have experienced a 12-week separation from a stable and consistent learning environment, along with the health and socio-economic hardships resulting from COVID-19,” Kealoaha-Scullion said. “Providing our PUEO Distance Learning Program this summer is more critical than ever to help address the achievement gap that is lost during the summer and the associated increase of risky behaviors that results when children are not engaged in a stable, consistent, supportive learning environment.”

Friday’s pre-PUEO launch came together through a collaboration among Punahou departments and learning centers, exemplifying the School’s commitment to the program. In addition to IT, community volunteers from the Pili Group and Chef Hui (including Punahou Food Curriculum Specialist Mark Noguchi ’93) sourced almost 8,000 pounds of food to distribute to PUEO participants; cafeteria staff worked to assemble the food bags; the Luke Center for Public Service helped organize dozens of faculty and student volunteers (including Punahou Capstone class seniors); and Physical Plant coordinated campus security and logistics.

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