Spiritual and Character Education

Punahou is dedicated to honoring its Christian heritage in the midst of the school's ethnically and religiously diverse community. An emphasis on moral and spiritual education and development pervades Punahou and can be experienced in classrooms, through community service programs and Character Education, in Chapel worship and worship-related experiences, and in the school's ethos and daily life.

In partnership with the Trustees, faculty, staff and administrators, the Chaplains articulate and implement the mission of Punahou: to "develop moral and spiritual values consistent with the Christian principles on which Punahou was founded, affirming the worth and dignity of each individual" and to "appreciate cultural diversity and develop social responsibility."


Chapel services are held each cycle encompassing grades K – 12. Attendance is mandatory. Punahou's Chaplains conduct services which range from child-centered expressions planned by students to more multidimensional services addressing a broad range of topics and worship styles. Chapel services bring people of different religious, family and ethnic backgrounds together in an affirmation of common humanity, quest for meaning and a call to make a difference in God's world.

Alumni and parents are encouraged to visit any of the regularly scheduled student chapel services. Special chapels, such as Kupuna Day, Memorial Day, Christmas and Spring Programs are memorable and inspiring for all who attend.

Character Education 

Developed in 1994, Punahou's integrated Character Education Program is designed to help create an environment where students can grow socially and spiritually, as well as intellectually. The program emphasizes a different value each month, in a two year cycle. The values are: respect, responsibility, compassion, faith, commitment, love, wisdom, health, humor, honesty, cooperation, humility, peace, patience, creativity, courage, environmental awareness, and freedom.

In Punahou's published books created for the program, teachers are provided with a definition of the value, a statement of purpose, the value and its translation into ten different languages, age appropriate folktales from around the world as well as stories from the major spiritual traditions, heroes and heroines whose lives exemplify the value, ideas for community service and discussion questions. Certain chapels each month are devoted to the character education value, and teachers are encouraged to integrate values in all academic disciplines, adding to it and sharing their expertise as well.


Punahou's three full-time Chaplains have important roles in the community's spiritual life. In addition to leading Chapel and the Character Education Program, they are also called upon to teach or guest lecture in classes, and are integral in the development of community service programs.

Chaplains are not asked by the School to participate in disciplinary decisions. Students, faculty, staff and parents may thus discuss School or personal issues as well as spiritual concerns knowing that these matters will be kept confidential.


  • Encouraging Students to Find Their Inner Voice

    Rachel Breitweser ’03
    Posted April 7, 2016

    After college, Eric Saperston bought a VW Bus, took his dog Jack and embarked on a trip to follow the Grateful Dead. What began as a journey of self-discovery unfolded into something larger. Along the way, he called up some of the most influential people in the world and asked them out for a cup of coffee.