The Journey of Volunteering from Kindergarten to Commencement

– By Michelle Doo ’82 Van Rafelghem P’24, PFA Graduation Chair 

Many years ago, a good friend told me volunteering was an opportunity to be involved with your children’s education and to support your teachers. I took that to heart. 

When our first child, Luke, entered kindergarten, during the parent open house night, I dutifully wrote my name on those sign-up sheets to bring snacks or drinks for the many class activities. I felt I did my part to support the teachers and our keiki on their learning journey. 

First grade was the same. I filled out those sheets and didn’t think anything more of it. I worked full-time and had two small kids. Entering second grade, I received a phone call informing me I was nominated as a room parent. Who, ME?! I accepted, and that’s how the fun started with the PFA. 

With my daughter in school, I stepped into bigger roles and developed a deeper understanding of how much the PFA supports our Punahou community. Carnival, Flaming “P” activities, greet and check in Punahou admissions applicants, Grade 8 Canteen, reminders to bring your snack to class, all PFA! I also joined other opportunities like volunteering for SAT/ACT testing support and felt these were great ways to show aloha and be an ambassador for the Punahou community. I made many new friends and worked with amazing people who inspired me to do more.

Now, as the 2024 Graduation Chair, I’m proud to oversee 10 committees, including Baccalaureate Decoration, Commencement Decoration, Graduation Attire, Post-Graduation Party, Chaperones, Oahuan Signing, Parent Volunteer Coordination, Clothing Collection, Graduation Information Support, and Parent/Guardian Senior Shirts. 

The process started last year, where 35 dedicated individuals were tasked with ensuring our Class of 2024 has an unforgettable graduation experience. These teams have assisted with activities such as graduation attire fittings, information sessions, and designing and distributing Senior Family t-shirts and hats. They are also charged with transforming two athletic venues into traditional venues marking special occasions. The Baccalaureate is held in Hemmeter Fieldhouse and is transformed into a beautifully decorated place reflecting the class’s baccalaureate theme. Finally, SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center is transformed into a spectacular setting for the Punahou Class of 2024’s Commencement.    

Punahou is focused on educating our children, and the PFA is focused on supporting that endeavor and keeping families engaged and informed. This is due to the dedication and support of the PFA parent and guardian volunteers from kindergarten through senior year.

Commencement for the Class of 2024 is being held at the SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center, University of Hawai‘i – Mānoa on Saturday, June 1, at 7 p.m.

Class of 2024 Families: We would love to have more volunteers for Commencement, log in to myPunahou and sign up today using this link.

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