Punahou and Alumni in the News

School – 2021 | School – 2020 | Alumni – 2021 | Alumni – 2020



Homeward Bound 5K is an annual fun run with a mission to help end homelessness in Hawai‘i. It is coordinated in partnership by The Institute for Human Services and the Punahou Girls Cross Country Team. (KHON2, 23 Nov. 2021)

Scarlett Lai ’27, Punahou Music School piano student of Steven Casano, was selected as a first prize winner in an online international music competition, the Great Composers competition, featuring the “Art of Piano.” (Great Composers, 12 Nov. 2021)

The Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation was named among Hawai‘i’s most charitable companies in 2021. The nonprofit private foundation is a supporter of Punahou’s PUEO Program and other local organizations. (Hawaii Business Magazine, 8 Nov. 2021)

Anna Lauren Lerner ’22 penned an editorial column, citing Arbor Day as a chance to act on the benefits of trees. “Trees are one of the most important tools in combating climate change — the most pressing issue of our day.” (Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 6 Nov. 2021)

Punahou JROTC news: Remembering General Colin Powell’s visit to Punahou. (U.S. Army JROTC, 28 Oct. 2021) Cadets adopt a space aboard the Mighty Mo. (U.S. Army JROTC, 28 Oct. 2021)

Jairus Rhoades ’22 won the Young Talent division of the Aloha International Piano Festival. Rhoades competed in the college-aged division after winning the high school division in the past. Competitors included pianists from China, Japan, California, New York and Illinois. Rhoades also won the Audience Prize in his category. (Hawaii News Now, 22 Oct. 2021)

Zoey Duan ’22 earned an award from the Hawaii Children and Youth organization for Outstanding Advocate of the Year, in recognition for her work with Hawaii Public Health Institute as a youth council leader. (Hawaii News Now, 4 Oct. 2021)

Tita Ahuna‘s journey in athletics has brought her to Punahou, first as an administrator, and now as the girls volleyball coach. (Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 22 Sept. 2021)

Punahou’s Tevarua Tafiti ’22 is a humble star on the football field and in the classroom. (Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 21 Sept. 2021) 

Punahou runner Malia Dickhens ’22 is on comeback trail from leg injury, reported the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Sept. 7.

Griffin Chen ’25 was one of the members of the first-ever Honolulu Youth Commission to be sworn in by the mayor and the Honolulu City Council. The Honolulu Youth Commission provides those aged 14 – 24 with the opportunity to serve their community. They’ll also serve as voluntary advisors to the mayor and the city council on issues important to youth and their communities, reported KHON2 on Aug. 31. 

KHON2’s weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various roadways across the Island to uncover the meaning behind their names. On Aug. 12, the segment focused on Punahou St. and Punahou School

Seniors Zoey Duan ’22 and Ellie Ochiai ’22 created a vaccine hotline for people needing assistance setting up an appointment. The hotline offers support in multiple languages and was created for a class project. KHON2 featured their work on July 20.

Multiple local media outlets reported on July 9 that the U.S. Olympic swim team has been practicing for two weeks at the Waterhouse Pool at Punahou before they leave for Japan on July 12 to compete at the Tokyo Olympics (Star-Advertiser, Star-Advertiser Gallery, KHON2, KITV and Hawaii News Now)

17-year-old Beri Maeda ’22 was featured in early July on HNN’s HINow for her gourmet cupcake business. KHON2 also reported about Maeda opening her own pop-up bakery spot in Ala Moana Center.

In its 36th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, Gatorade on July 8 announced Chris Paige ’21 of Punahou School as its 2020 – 21 Gatorade Hawaii Boys Track & Field Player of the Year. 

On MaxPreps’ June 25 list of high school coaches with the most state championships, Punahou, which has won over 500 state championships, had the most coaches on the list with six: swimming coaches Jeff Meister, Steve Borowski and Thom Haine; cross country, track and field coaches Duncan McDonald and Al Rowan; and tennis coach Rusty Komori.

Academy Principal at Punahou School Emily McCarren and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Mid-Pacific Institute Leigh Fitzgerald co-authored the article “Education Cheat Sheet: Learning Through the Pandemic And Beyond” as a reflection and call to action for how learning changed during the pandemic and what new practices schools should continue. The article, presented in partnership with HAIS, appeared in HONOLULU Family Magazine on June 21.

Kaelah Kimura ’23, a rising junior at Punahou School, was one of nine O‘ahu high school students to take part in the Blue Planet Foundation’s Climate Crew, an educational program for high school students rooted in climate science and data-driven advocacy, reported the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on June 7.

Punahou’s inaugural virtual Festival of Ideas shines a light on the theme of Innovation and will feature more than 50 speakers, including industry leaders, entrepreneurs and student innovators. Registration for the online event, which runs from June 7-9, is open to the public, as reported by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on June 2.

Ikaika Jobe ’01 – director of Punahou School tennis and former nationally top ranked doubles player – was part of the Hawai‘i doubles team that beat top players from Northern California in the 2021 Invitational Tennis Tournament, KHON2 reported on May 31. 

Punahou junior Lua Bowman ’22 was named Hawaii’s first-ever youth poet laureate during the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Live @ the MACC series on May 22, reported MauiNow. The other top four finalists were also Academy students: Shea Noland ’22, Lyric Kensington Ono ’24, Rachel Waggoner ’23 and Harlequinn Wolters ’23.

Fifth grader Blake Lee ’28 published his story, “The Brave Little Bird,” on Amazon, with the help of mom Nessa Lee. The book is about how the habitat of a native bird is threatened by the Rapid Ohia Death disease and proceeds will go towards fighting Rapid Ohia Death, Lee and his mother explained on HPR’s The Conversation on May 26. 

More than 360 students received their first doses of coronavirus vaccine Saturday when Hawaii Pacific Health’s COVID-19 Vax Squad Bus visited Punahou School, reported Yahoo News on May 23. 

Cosette Wu ’21 from Punahou is one of two Hawai‘i students selected as Presidential Scholars, a distinction awarded to only 161 high school seniors nationwide, KHON2 reported on May 13.

Kailee Brandt ‘21, was featured on the cover of MidWeek on May 12, for earning Hawai’i’s top spot as Premiere Theater Kid.

Alex Buntin-Nakamura’s ’21 project on How Can Sustainable and Green Architecture Revitalize Hawaii’s Chinatown? earned the Global Online Academy’s (GOA) Catalyst for Change Prize for presenting a compelling and inspiring case for change, GOA announced on May 6. 

Longtime Punahou Athletic Trainer Beth Ann Young was profiled by the National Athletic Trainers Association on May 4. Her accolades include distinguished awards and service awards for her dedication to the field.

Hawai’i Symphony Orchestra selected Erin Nishi ’21 and Mira Hu ’21 as two of three student concerto soloists recognized as Nā Hōkū ‘Ōpio (Young Stars) in late April.

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. On May 3, Torres talked to Hawai‘i Public Radio about teaching in these current times and what post-pandemic education might look like.

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.



Island History: The pig shooting incident at Halfway Bridge, Kauai in 1856 with Samuel Thomas Alexander, a student at Punahou. (The Garden Island, 29 Nov. 2021)

Nick Velasquez’s ’13 dream has come true. The former Punahou all-state guard is playing professional basketball — in Armenia. (Hawaii Prep World, 26 Nov. 2021)

Duke Clemens’ ’19 versatility made him a recruiting target for many schools on the West Coast. Now the Punahou alum is at the center of a revival in Westwood of the UCLA Bruins. (Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 24 Nov. 2021)

Filmmaker and historian Bob Liljestrand ’59, who preserved Ossipoff “masterpiece,” dies at 79. (Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 22 Nov. 2021)

Kamea Hadar and his team with Pow! Wow! recently finished the mural that features Carissa Moore ’10 and Duke Kahanamoku, who are both Olympic gold medalists. (Hawaii News Now, 13 Nov. 2021)

Tim Carson ’96 is SMS Research and Marketing Services’ new president and CEO, taking over the helm from longtime Chairman and President Hersh Singer. (Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 9 Nov. 2021)

Meli James ’96 shares the wealth, launches new venture capital fund. (The Business Journals, 29 Oct. 2021)

CJ Perez ’21 is shattering glass ceilings in the sport of hydrofoil racing. She is the first woman ever to make Team USA’s SailGP pro team, which just finished second in the world after competing in Spain. (Hawaii News Now, 18 Oct. 2021)

A poetic and photographic celebration of Punahou’s beloved night-blooming cereus by writer Ligaya Mishan ’88 and photographer Linny Morris ’73 for T: The New York Times Style Magazine. Hanya Yanagihara ’92 is the magazine’s editor in chief. (T: The New York Time Style Magazine, 11 Oct. 2021)

Candace Johnson ’70 is among the prominent women featured by Fortune Magazine who are innovating and investing in space-based technologies. (Fortune Magazine, 4 Oct. 2021)

President Joe Biden nominated state Attorney General Clare Connors ’92 to be the next U.S. Attorney for Hawai‘i. (Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 28 Sept. 2021)

Heperi Mita ’03 grew up in Hawai‘i and mainland United States with his New Zealand filmmaker parents, Merata Mita and Geoff Murphy. When he arrived in Aotearoa 10 years ago, he decided to become fluent in te reo, Māori language. He describes his ongoing journey to reach that goal. (NZ Herald, 15 Sept. 2021)

Carissa Moore ’10 becomes first surfer to win Olympic and world titles in same year. (Yahoo News, 15 Sept. 2021)

BuzzFeed’s Sept. 11 article about famous people who went to high school together includes Kelly Preston ’80, who graduated from Honolulu’s Punahou School in 1980, a year after President Barack Obama ’79.

Morning Brew, the neighborhood coffee hangout in Kailua owned and operated for 26 years by Punahou School graduate Peter Anderson ’83, was mentioned in Civil Beat on Sept. 7 as part of a roundup of island coffee shops that provided solace to patrons during the pandemic. 

New York artist Jen Lewin ’92 designed one of the 78 fiberglass cows for a public art exhibition in the boroughs of New York City. The cow, titled “Edison Cow,” was decorated with light bulbs and hangs upside down in Industry City, reported the New York Times on Aug. 23.

Carissa Moore ’10, Erik Shoji ’08 and Taylor Crabb ’10 were mentioned among Hawai‘i’s athletes in a Yahoo News recap of the Olympics on Aug. 9.

NBC Olympics highlighted the accomplishments of Punahou alumni athletes in a video shared on July 28 and broadcast on TV as part of their Olympics coverage. NBC called Punahou a school “that seems to have a special knack for churning out Olympians … not to mention former United States President Barack Obama.” More than 30 U.S. Olympians have been graduates of Punahou School, and there hasn’t been a U.S. Olympic team without a graduate of the School since 1972.

Local and national news outlets, including the New York Times, reported on July 27 that Carissa Moore ’10 captured the first ever women’s gold medal in surfing at the Tokyo Olympics. “I feel super blessed, super fortunate. It’s been an incredible experience,” Moore said about winning the gold in an article by NPR.

On July 26, the Independent shone a spotlight on Carissa Moore ’10, the most successful and high-profile female surfer in the world and a Punahou graduate, who is competing in the Tokyo Olympics. 

Taylor Crabb ’10 made the Team USA beach volleyball team, but unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19 while in Tokyo and won’t be competing, announced the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on July 22.

Four-time surfing world champion Carissa Moore ’10 is aiming to win gold as the sport debuts at the Tokyo Olympics, as reported by NBC News on July 22.

A few Punahou alumni will be competing at the Tokyo Olympics this summer: beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb ’10, surfer Carissa Moore ’10 and indoor volleyball player Erik Shoji ’08, reported the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on July 18.

Hawai‘i volleyball icon and Punahou alumnus Kevin Wong ’90 will be a part of NBC’s Summer Olympics coverage for the third straight games, KHON2 announced on July 18.

Outfielder Cole Cabrera ’17, who played the past four seasons at Cal Poly, is joining the University of Hawaii baseball team as a graduate transfer, reported the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on July 18.

A Punahou grad and former state wrestling and judo champ, J.T. Ojerio ’09 is the artist behind the brand “Aloha de Mele” and was featured on July 8 on Hawaii News Now

As the Tokyo Olympics draw near, four-time world surf champion Carissa Moore ’10 is one of the top American athletes to watch, reported USA Today on June 28. 

Punahou alumnus Erik Shoji ’08, son of retired Hawai‘i women’s volleyball coach Dave Shoji, made the United States’ men’s Olympic volleyball team. Shoji will play in the Tokyo Games next month, along with fellow Hawai‘i players, including brother Kawika, who make up 25% of the team, announced the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on June 14. 

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi nominated Ann Botticelli ’77, a former journalist and airline executive, to the Honolulu Police Commission, reported Civil Beat on June 12. 

Environmental “ARTivist” Stephanie Hung ’21, a recent graduate of Punahou School and founder of Artists Save Waves, unveiled her latest mural in Pearl City on June 7 in recognition of World Oceans Month, announced KHON2 on June 10.

Punahou alumna Chloé Selarque’s ’11 intricate embroidery pieces that capture Hawai‘i’s natural beauty were featured in the May issue of Honolulu Magazine

Rachael Wong ‘90 is one of four local women being honored for her leadership and community service at YWCA Oahu’s 2021 LeaderLuncheon. Wong, interviewed by Hawaii News Now on May 17, is the founder of One Shared Future (OSF), which imagines a positive future for Hawaii and brings people together to collectively create that future. 

The new Miss Hawaii is 2014 Punahou graduate Courtney Choy ’14, reported the Honolulu-Star Advertiser on May 17. Choy is a summa cum laude graduate of the Shidler College of Business and a graduate from the William S. Richardson School of Law. Competing as Miss Chinatown Hawaii, she beat 16 other candidates to become the 76th woman to hold the title of Miss Hawaii.

The Honolulu-Star Advertiser announced that five Hawai‘i men’s volleyball players received All-America recognition from the American Volleyball Coaches Association on May 3, including BYU setter Wil Stanley ’16 and UC Santa Barbara outside hitter Ryan Wilcox ’18 as an honorable mention. In other men’s volleyball news, the Honolulu-Star Advertiser reported that the University of Hawai‘i team won the May 8 NCAA men’s volleyball championship in Columbus, Ohio. The team included Kana’i Akana ’18 and Akaka’i Todd ’18.

Patrick O’Neill ’11 and four college buddies are part owners of “Hot Rod Charlie,” a horse competing in the Kentucky Derby. O’Neill was in Louisville with Punahou friends from the Class of 2011, reported NBC Sports on April 30.

KHON2 reported on April 25 that pro golfer Alex Ching ’08, with caddie Robby Toma ’09, won the 63rd Mid-Pacific Open, his first professional win.

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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