By Ian Oyama ’88, P ’27, PFA New Families/Admissions VP
I became an active volunteer in the PFA during the 2020 – 2021 school year as a way to stay connected to the school while we were all doing everything remotely. My classmate was on the New Families Committee, and she asked if I wanted to help them find new ways to help transition new families into Punahou while working within the restrictions of the pandemic. I realized how hard it would be for a new family to really appreciate all that Punahou has to offer since so many of our traditions would be put on hold, and I thought that as a member of the New Families committee I would be able to help bridge that gap. I really had no idea what I was getting into, but it just felt like the right thing to do. Trusting my intuition served me well, and I found my role to be more rewarding than I had expected. For me, it was an outlet from the isolation we all experienced during the early days of the pandemic, and the New Families committee played a role in relieving that isolation for a lot of families that were new to the school.
Feeling comfortable in the committee and the events we supported, I stayed on to chair the committee for two more years. Now in my fourth year, I am a PFA Board member and VP of New Families and Admissions for the 2023 – 2024 academic year.
Our first event of the year was the New Families Welcome Social that brought together newly enrolled K – 12 students and their families and welcomed them into the Punahou ‘ohana with an orientation to campus life. They met seasoned families from Punahou and got the inside scoop on things like field trips, after school activities, carpools, homework expectations, etc. Representatives from the PFA, Carnival, PAC, O-Men, and Pā‘ani were all there to acquaint the new families with ways to become involved in the Punahou community.
This year, we all gave a brief introduction to the attendees including President Latham, Director of Enrollment Management and Admissions Maile Uohara, and PFA President Mike Lee. Students were able to break off for a grade-specific, mini orientation while the adults mingled. PFA student volunteers from Case Middle School and student athletes including the Varsity Football team and Punahou cheerleaders also came out to greet new families. The Oahu College Band provided entertainment and the PFA offered refreshments and games.
Feedback from families attending this event has been nothing but positive and appreciative. This event creates a time to bond with other families in a relaxed setting on our beautiful campus. Feeling that embrace from the Punahou community provides an enthusiastic start to the school year, and the privilege of providing that opportunity for the newest members of our Punahou ‘ohana is why I keep coming back to volunteer on this committee.
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