2013 Commencement Speech

President Jim Scott '70

Before I bid farewell to the class, I want to say something to the parents of every senior tonight that I referenced at the senior parent reception at our home two weeks ago.

In the fall of 2008, when these seniors were in the eighth grade, the national and local economy went into a tailspin. Yet, during that time of financial, personal and professional uncertainty – when none of us knew where the floor would be during that economic free fall – you made a family decision to keep your child at Punahou, or send your child to Punahou.

And we know that you did so at considerable personal and financial sacrifice. This is why I want to express our deep appreciation for that important and courageous decision, and for all of the family choices and sacrifices that went along with that decision.

Mahalo for your enormous trust and confidence in giving us the gift of educating your child.

Well seniors, in these final days together you have listened to thoughtful, heartfelt insights and advice from classmates and from teachers at tonight’s Commencement, at your Baccalaureate, at your final chapels, assemblies, final classes and in your individual meetings with teachers. I can only re-affirm what you have already heard.

First – thank you! Thank you for your individual and collective gifts to our school community described by Dr. Conway as he presented you for your Punahou diplomas. Beyond your extraordinary talent and accomplishment, you have set a wonderful and positive tone in the Academy all year.

Your genuine enthusiasm, as well as your generosity of spirit in all aspects of school life were noticed, appreciated and honored by the underclassmen. They are eager to step up to the example that you have showed them. We are so grateful for that leadership.

Your Na Makana – your gift of a Punahou education – has ideally provided you with a foundation to become a confident, independent and lifelong learner. You have been blessed with an experience and an understanding of what it means to have high expectations. You have also experienced here at Punahou great teaching and true educational excellence (as overused as that word is). And you now know how it feels to be a part of a vibrant and caring community.

In a few minutes you will become Punahou graduates. Your kuleana, your responsibility now, is to take what you have learned and experienced here, and re-create it wherever you go in this world: high expectations, true educational excellence, and a thriving and loving community.

The Punahou School diploma I am about to hand to you is actually more than a diploma. Rather, think of it as a promise; a promise that you make tonight to those most responsible for the gift – your families, your teachers and one another – that you will pay forward the gift of a Punahou education.

So create the conditions and opportunities for another young person to reach their promise, to fulfill their potential, and to have educational opportunities that can lead them to a full and productive life.

As we gently nudge you out of your comfortable nest to begin your journey from the New Spring tonight, and before you scatter across the country and around the world, here is our wish for you:

We wish you success sufficient to your needs, and also some occasional failure along the way to temper that success.

We wish you the exhilaration of a fabulous Carnival, a final Variety Show, and a glorious Senior Skip Day as you climb your peaks; and also the tranquility of a quiet moment at the Lily Pond with a good friend as you rest in your valleys.

And it is our sincere hope that you will come to understand that the noblest use of your considerable talents, your keen intellects, and your Punahou education, is to make another life better.

To echo what your fellow alumnus President Obama reminded the Class of 2005 about their Punahou education: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

Our final wish for you is from the Irish blessing that you have sung many times together through the years:

May the Wind always be at your back. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Godspeed, Class of 2013! Go with our best wishes and with our fond aloha!

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