2017 Commencement Address

President Jim Scott ’70

Until We Meet Again

President Jim Scott ’70 delivered this speech at Commencement on June 3, 2017.

President Jim Scott ’70 proudly presents each student in the Class of 2017 with a diploma.

In 2009, as you were approaching middle school, the national and local economy was in a tailspin. During that time of financial, personal, and professional uncertainty – when no one knew where the bottom might be during that economic free-fall – your parents and your families made a decision to keep you at Punahou – or to send you to Punahou. Many of you with the support of some financial assistance from the School.

That’s why it is important for me to take a moment to say to the parents and families gathered this evening: We know you had choices along the way about where to educate your child. You have invested in their Punahou education at considerable personal and financial sacrifice. I want to express our deep appreciation for that important decision – and for all of the family choices and sacrifices that went along with that decision. Mahalo for your trust and confidence in giving us the privilege of educating your child.

Seniors, in your final days together you have heard heartfelt reflections, insight and advice from classmates and teachers. I can only affirm here what you have already learned.

First – thank you! Thank you for your individual and collective gifts to our School community. Beyond your extraordinary talent and accomplishment, you have set a positive tone in the Academy throughout your senior year. Your enthusiasm and generosity of spirit in all aspects of school life have been noticed and appreciated by underclassmen. They are eager to step up to the example that you have shown them, and we are grateful for your leadership.

Your gift of a Punahou education has provided you with the foundation to become a confident, independent, self-directed, curious and lifelong learner. You are now blessed with an understanding of what it means to have high expectations. To be among talented and accomplished schoolmates. To have experienced dedicated and inspiring teaching. And you now know what it feels like to be a part of a vibrant and caring community.

During your senior year at Punahou, America emerged from a tumultuous national election. The current political climate of divisiveness, polarization and uncertainty will likely linger into your freshman year of college. However, as engaged Punahou students, you have shown us, even in your youth, what we hope for in adults: a respectful candor that fosters a climate of trust and welcomes genuine dialogue and thoughtful disagreement through courtesy and civility. Toward that end, we urge you to continue to embrace a diversity of opinions, perspectives, backgrounds and experiences as you cultivate your capacity to think critically and flexibly, to ask good questions and to act with compassion.

In a few minutes, you will be Punahou graduates, joining the ranks of the thousands of Punahou alumni who have come before you. Your kuleana – your responsibility – as a Punahou graduate will be to take what you have learned and experienced here, and recreate it wherever you go in this world. Your Punahou education calls you to a life of compassion and engaged citizenship.

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

Within your lifetime, make another life better. Create the conditions and opportunities for others to reach their promise, to fulfill their potential, and to have opportunities that can lead them to a full and productive life.

As we say aloha to you tonight, we wish you success sufficient to your needs, and some occasional failure along the way to temper that success. We wish you the exhilaration of a memorable Carnival, a final Variety Show and a joyful Senior Skip Day as you climb your peaks, but also the tranquility of a quiet moment near the Lily Pond as you rest in your valleys.

Speaking to you on behalf of your Punahou teachers, remember what Mr. Maloney said at your Baccalaureate service: In your lifetime, “Continue to seek your ideal self! You will forever be a part of our story, and we are glad that we could be a part of yours.”

So, Class of 2017, may the wind always be at your back. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand. You leave us with our best wishes and with our fond aloha!