Punahou and Alumni in the News


Punahou seniors Liana Heshiki ’21 and Tiani Wayton ’21 share their experiences playing softball this year in the April 11 Honolulu Star-Advertiser article.

On April 2, Ashley Hong ’25 qualified for the National MATHCOUNTS Competition. Ashley had the second highest score in the State round of the competition and advances to compete in the National round against the top four scorers from each state. An honorable mention goes out to Ian Jun ’27 who placed fifth in the State competition and just missed qualifying for Nationals.

KHON2 News reported that Gov. Ige signed a proclamation designating April 2021 as Tree Awareness Month thanks to the Punahou Sustainability Club, which includes Anna Lerner ’22 and faculty advisor Ian Earle ’89.

Eighth grade English teacher at Case Middle School, Christina Torres, was one of three Hawai‘i teachers among 50 educators from across the United States and Canada selected for the prestigious Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship, reported KITV on March 14. 

Cosette Wu ’21 was named a Coca-Cola Scholar. She is one of 150 high school seniors nationwide who will each receive a $20,000 college scholarship in recognition for having a positive influence in the community.

Girl Scout and Punahou third grader Laurel Schoen’s ’30 essay titled “What Space Travel Will be Like in 10 Years” is one of 21 essays and artwork selected from 700 entries submitted by Girl Scouts from across the U.S., Japan and Germany that will be sent to the International Space Station, reported Hawaii News Now on March 18.

Hawaii News Now highlighted the efforts of Sascha Pakravan ’22 on March 16. Pakravan created a nonprofit called Words4 to provide free reading resources for families, including dozens of read aloud videos of children’s books. Pakravan was recently recognized with a Prudential Spirit of Community Award as Hawai‘i’s Top Youth Volunteer and was honored with the President’s Volunteer Service Award. 

Civil Beat story published on Feb. 23 about COVID-19 testing in schools quoted Punahou Director of Communications Robert Gelber ’92: “The school will be rolling out a voluntary testing program for K-12 families and already has begun rapid antigen testing for staff and students participating in certain athletic programs.”

Local media outlets all reported on the effort made to make Punahou Carnival happen this year. In an interview that KHON2 News aired on Jan. 29, Carnival co-chair Tate Goodman ’22 said, “It was hard to alter a long-standing tradition that has been going on since the Great Depression, but we’re so grateful that we were able to create some new traditions and still raise funds for students in need of financial aid.”

Civil Beat published a story on Jan. 12 about how local teachers were talking about the attack on the U.S. Capitol with students. Eighth-grade faculty member Christina Torres was interviewed for the story. “I’m not trying to show them (news) images and say, this is what you’re trying to take away, but a framework of how we can talk about these things,” Torres said. “One of the reasons why our country is so divided is we’ve been so scared to talk about these issues as a nation. It’s led to all these issues gunked up inside us.”

The Clarence T.C. Ching PUEO Program was featured in a Hawaii News Now story that aired on Dec. 2. “As a young kid from Kahaluu what it really did was not only open my eyes to college and the idea of college, but really gave me the tools and the essentials on how to get there,” said PUEO alumna Precious Totten.

Punahou President Mike Latham ’86 penned an article that was published in the Nov. 18 issue of MidWeek. The article recounted a traumatic event in his life that ultimately led him to his career as an educator. “Realizing how fragile life is can sometimes give us the courage to pursue the life that is best for us,” he wrote.


John De Fries ’69 is thriving as president and CEO of Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, reported MidWeek on April 14. 

Hawaii surfer and Punahou alumna Carissa Moore ’10, four-time world champ, won the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup at Australia’s Merewether Beach, reported the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on April 9. 

Gov. David Ige appointed Dr. William Haning III ’67, an emeritus professor at the UH medical school and Punahou alumnus, to the University of Hawaii’s Board of Regents, reported the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on March 30.

After over a year off from competition, Punahou graduate and golfer Michelle Wie ’07 West is making her LPGA return this week at the KIA Classic in Southern California, reported KHON2 on March 24. 

On Feb. 23, Hawaii Business Magazine announced its annual “20 for the Next 20,” which profile 20 people that will have a major positive impact on Hawai‘i over the next two decades. This year’s list included three Punahou alumni:

  • Makena Coffman ’98, Director, UH Mānoa’s Institute for Sustainability and Resilience
  • Doug Johnstone ’00, Hawaiʻi President, The Howard Hughes Corp
  • Carissa Moore ’10, Professional Surfer

On Feb. 19, local news outlets celebrated the role Christopher Pong ’04 played in NASA’s successful landing of the “Perseverance” rover on Mars. Pong is a Guidance and Control Engineer at NASA and was in mission control for the landing. “It was a very emotional moment,” he said. “I got teary-eyed and it was just such a huge relief that we made it there successfully.”

The entertainment world mourned the loss of Allan Burns ’53, creator of ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show.’ Burns passed away on Jan. 30 at his home in Los Angeles. The New York Times noted in its obituary for Burns that he won Emmys for his work on that show and helped create the spinoffs “Rhoda” and “Lou Grant.” Among his other creations was the cereal mascot Cap’n Crunch.

Local media outlets reported on Jan. 16 that Nancy Weiner ’91 Cordes was named as the new CBS Chief White House Correspondent.

KITV4 reported that on Jan. 8 that DeForest Buckner ’12 had been named to the Associated Press NFL All-Pro first team. The honor came for his stellar first year with the Indianapolis Colts during which he recorded 58 total tackles, two forced fumbles and 9.5 sacks – a Colts franchise record for a defensive tackle.

Hawaii News Now aired a story on Dec. 1 about Nick Kapule ’17. Now in his senior year at Pitzer College, Kapule is working to help Native Hawaiian students with distance learning by donating laptops to kids who need them. “I’ve heard of kids who don’t have a laptop, who don’t have an iPad. They’re unable to learn, unable to access books, access the internet, access the sort of resources to support their education, and that’s tough at a time like this where people need online resources,” Kapule said.

Self-taught artist J.T. Ojerio ’09 was interviewed on Dec. 1 by Hawaii News Now. The former wrestler with a master’s degree in exercise physiology discovered the therapeutic healing powers of art as she recovered from a surgery.

On Nov. 19, Hawai‘i Magazine praised “Pipe Dreams: The Dark Secret Behind Hawai‘i’s Most Notorious Crime,” a newly published crime novel by John Madinger ’71 that centers on the Massie case and murder of Joseph Kahahawai.

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