Take the Scenic Route 

By Lori Ann Tam P’24, PFA Academy Chair

“Take the scenic route.” Shared by a fellow parent volunteer, these words of wisdom rang loud and clear at a time when I was hesitant to get more involved as a parent. Like many parents, I wanted to be involved in supporting my child’s Punahou journey, just not “too involved.” While the road to graduation may sometimes seem like a race to the finish line, volunteering in various roles with the PFA and enjoying the “scenery” along the way has made the ride so much more enriching and enjoyable!

When my son was in the Junior School my motivation for volunteering was to support his journey and share in his experiences. As he got older, there were fewer opportunities to participate firsthand, but still many ways to support his journey and the Punahou community. Volunteering for a variety of roles has enabled me to meet and get to know other parents at various grade levels, which has been one of the most rewarding benefits of volunteering and serving in the PFA. In my most recent role as PFA Academy Chair, I’ve had the honor of supporting amazing parent volunteers who served as the Grade 9, 10, 11, and 12 Representatives and as Committee Chairs for College Previews, ACT/SAT Testing, Variety Show and Graduation. Their dedication was truly inspiring as they worked tirelessly to serve the Punahou community.

Volunteerism in the Academy takes on a different twist from the Junior School. While there are still plenty of opportunities to volunteer, there is often little to no involvement with your own child. At the same time, entering the last four years of our child’s secondary school education can feel daunting. 

As a tradition before embarking on the Academy journey, Dr. and Mrs. Latham hosted the Grade 9 Parent and Guardian Reception in October which provided a casual setting for parents and guardians to meet the Deans and Academy Administrators who will support their children for the next four years. It was the perfect time for ninth grade parents and guardians to make connections with those who will share the Academy journey with them and also set the stage for working together as a class for future events such as Sophomore Lū‘au, Carnival, Variety Show and Graduation. 

At the conclusion of the Academy journey, Dr. and Mrs. Latham also hosted the Senior Parent and Guardian Reception in May which was a celebration filled with hugs, sharing of wonderful memories, and excitement for the next steps in our children’s lives beyond Punahou. A special highlight of the afternoon was recognizing Dean Marguerite Ashford-Hirano who is retiring with this graduating class. The Class of 2024’s Pun Prix ’23 Carnival theme was befitting of the Academy years that have gone by in the blink of an eye and truly felt like we’ve had the Pedal to the Metal. 

While the road on our family’s 13 year Punahou journey has taken many twists and turns, I have been blessed with enjoying the scenery with many parent volunteers and friends who made the ride so worthwhile. I encourage all parents to take advantage of the many opportunities available to support the students and Punahou community while also connecting with fellow parent volunteers. After a while, volunteering will simply feel like friends helping friends and the connections and friendships made with fellow parents are priceless. When the opportunity comes up, take the scenic route. I promise the extra mileage will be worth it.

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