Junior School (K - 8)

Punahou’s Junior School encompasses Kindergarten through eighth grade. The Principal and six Supervisors oversee the Junior School faculty and approximately 2,000 students.

The Junior School is comprised of three smaller self-contained sections, each designed to meet the special needs of the different ages of the children it serves: K – grade 1 housed in the Omidyar K – 1 Neighborhood; grades 2 – 5 in Winne and in Castle Hall; and grades 6 – 8 in the Case Middle School and Bishop Hall. Facilities shared by K – grade 8 include the Thurston Memorial Chapel, the Creative Learning Centers in Case Middle School, Dole cafeteria and various physical education facilities.


The Junior School K – 8 employs a sequenced, inquiry-based curriculum, in which students in each grade explore issues of global sustainability. The curriculum features language arts, science, math, social studies, physical education, music, art, technology and outdoor education. An array of elective classes is available beginning in grade 6. Starting in grade 7, students study one of six foreign languages.

Themes by Grade 

K – Grade 1: Our Island Home

How are the needs of all living things connected?

An inquiry into how living things depend on each other to survive and thrive, fostering the innate curiosity and wonder in our children to gain an appreciation and understanding of the world around them.

Global Sustainability:

What is our responsibility in sharing and caring for our water and land resources?


Needs and interdependence of plants, animals, and people in the mauka and makai regions of our island.

Grade 2: Island Communities

How does our community work together?

An inquiry into the interdependence of the different systems within our island community.

Global Sustainability:

Protecting our resources – making sound food choices to sustain our local environment.


  • Characteristics of systems
  • Transportation
  • Economics
  • Food
  • Culture
  • Japan

Grade 3: Nana I Ke Kumu / No Na Mamo

How do we sustain our native resources and culture in an increasingly globalized society?

An inquiry into learning from Hawai`i's past to positively influence our future.

Global Sustainability:

Sustaining our natural resources and culture in an increasingly globalized society.


  • Geology of Hawai`i
  • Ahupua`a
  • Water and the ocean
  • Plants and animals
  • Legends
  • Art

Grade 4: Strive, Thrive, Survive

How might we adapt our behaviors and actions to thrive in our ever changing world?

An inquiry into how cultural and environmental adaptations secure the survival of living things.

Global Sustainability:

Water, native species of plants and animals (conservation and sustainability).


  • Hydroponics
  • Water quality
  • Water systems
  • Ecosystems
  • Native Americans
  • Explorers

Grade 5: Evolving Environments

What are the positive actions we can take to affect our world?

An inquiry into how we sustain what should be sustained, change what needs to be changed, and recognize and act on opportunities for both.

Global Sustainability:

Biodiversity and ecosystem losses


  • Challenger mission
  • Big Island trip
  • Colonial/revolutionary studies
  • Environments

Grade 6: Soil and Soul

How do we grow as diverse individuals within a society?

An inquiry into cultivation through personal growth, community development, agriculture, and environmental action.

Global Sustainability:

  • Biodiversity and ecosystem losses 
  • Education for all 
  • International labor and migration rules


  • Garden

Grade 7: Journey to Tomorrow

What is our role in the changes we want to see?

An inquiry into imagining the global future through the study of what is possible and probable, empowering students to make responsible decisions in the world around them.

Global Sustainability:

  • Independent projects 
  • Government/economic systems


  • Project Green 
  • Jobs of the future 
  • Water study 
  • Damon speech

Grade 8: Empathy to Action

How do we transform our previous knowledge and skills to make positive impacts on community and global issues?

An inquiry into elevated empathy that leads to action.

Global Sustainability:

Independent projects could potentially encompass all issues.


  • Project Citizen 
  • Whirligig 
  • Damon speech


What is inquiry-based learning?

In inquiry-based learning environments, students are engaged in activities that help them actively pose questions, investigate, solve problems, and draw conclusions about the world around them. They do meaningful work that addresses authentic problems, answer essential questions, and develop important 21st century skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and entrepreneurship.

Learners share ownership of the inquiry process. Questioning, exploring, and creating personal understanding, knowledge and growth is at the core of inquiry and drives the teaching and learning process.

The role of teachers is to design curricular experiences that achieve these goals while providing a structure that supports the development of the intellectual and practical skills necessary for individual student progress and success.



Paris Priore-Kim
Junior School Principal
Principals' Blog

Angie Oh

Junior School Administrative Assistant
808.944.5702 Tel

Junior School
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