Guiding Principles

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

“At this moment in American history, in our classrooms, playgrounds, athletic fields, and Chapel, we must raise children who know that racism can never be tolerated, and who are ready to defend the worth and dignity of all.”

Michael E. Latham, PH.D ‘86
President, Punahou School
June 2, 2020

Read President Mike Latham’s Response to Racial Violence Below ›

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Punahou

Punahou School is committed to creating a diverse educational community rooted in equity and inclusion as fundamental human rights. We seek ways to create an environment in which the identities and cultural backgrounds of our families, students and employees are valued and respected by the entire Punahou community. 
We believe that the diversity of our students, staff, faculty, curriculum and co-curriculum is essential to achieving the Aims of a Punahou Education. Throughout the Punahou journey, diverse cultural identities, world views, aspirations, affiliations and beliefs strengthen the learning experience for all as we promote open dialogue around difference. 
Punahou students and employees are expected to uphold the highest standards of fairness and inclusivity so that all members of our community may participate in and contribute to the life of the school, regardless of age, family structure, race/ethnicity, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation or any other aspect of their identity. 

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  • March 18, 2021 - Letter from Michael E. Latham, Ph.D. ’86

    March 15, 2021

    Dear Families,

    Like many Americans, I have watched with dismay and sadness as incidents of violence against Asian Americans have accelerated during the past year in U.S. mainland cities like San Francisco, New York, and most recently Atlanta. My heart goes out to all of the victims and their families.

    While the attacks in Atlanta are currently under investigation, incidents of discrimination, harassment and physical assault have risen at an alarming rate since the beginning of the pandemic. Over the past year, 3,800 such incidents have been reported nationwide by Stop AAPI Hate, and the Pew Research Center has found that three-in-ten Asian adults have been subject to verbal harassment because of their race or ethnicity since the outbreak began. The reports also show that these incidents have targeted other populations of color and, especially, women.

    Fortunately, we are not helpless in the face of ignorance and intolerance. Our deans and counselors are available to support your children as they hear and process troubling news. In addition, here are some helpful resources to guide you in these conversations with your children:
    During this Spring Break, as we pause from the daily routines of school, let us take time to reflect the ways in which we all teach children the values of social responsibility, ethical conduct, and compassion. Let us also continue to promote those values in our own communities.

    Michael E. Latham, Ph.D. ’86
    President, Punahou School

  • June 2, 2020 - Letter from Michael E. Latham, Ph.D. ’86

    June 2, 2020

    Dear Punahou Community,

    I write to you in the wake of a joyful celebration for our Class of 2020, an undaunted and spirited cohort that graduated over the weekend and became the newest members of our proud alumni ‘ohana. As they depart from Punahou, I have every confidence that their compassion and conscience will help produce a more just, humane and peaceful world.

    At the same time, I am deeply troubled by the news from cities across our country. The killing of Mr. George Floyd, like that of many other African Americans who have died in acts of racist brutality, leaves me angry and full of despair. The actions of those who would exploit legitimate grievances to promote reckless violence, moreover, make the prospects for enduring, progressive change even more remote.

    Our history books tell us how far our country has come since the post-World War II Civil Rights Movement first challenged our nation to live up to the full meaning of its principles. Yet when African Americans still cannot live in safety in much of the United States, and the impact of COVID-19 starkly illustrates the impact of inequality on communities of color, we clearly recognize how far we still must travel.

    At Punahou, I believe that these events speak directly to our core values and mission. The Aims of a Punahou Education define our aspirations for our students. In addition to developing critical academic abilities, we seek to promote “personal and social responsibility by developing empathy and compassion, by embracing diversity at all levels, while cultivating moral reasoning that leads to moral action, personal leadership, and engaged citizenship.” As our mission statement emphasizes, we aim to “develop moral and spiritual values consistent with the Christian principles on which Punahou was founded, affirming the worth and dignity of each individual.”

    A Punahou education, in this respect, must be a transformative one. Now more than ever, our School can teach students to challenge the structures that perpetuate injustice and to act responsibly for the good of all. In contrast to those who would promote violence, we can deliver an education that builds creativity, social entrepreneurship, and the crucial ability to engage in rational, productive debate across the political spectrum. As we enroll students from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures, we can provide access to a Punahou education for families who would otherwise not have it, graduating many students who will be the first in their families to attend college. At this moment in American history, in our classrooms, playgrounds, athletic fields, and Chapel, we must raise children who know that racism can never be tolerated, and who are ready to defend the worth and dignity of all.

    These critical issues, and so many others like them, will be the charge of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion working group – one of Punahou’s highest priority areas and an integral part of our ongoing Strategic Planning process. This group of thoughtful, action-minded faculty and staff from across our campus will build upon the important diversity work that has been done in recent years and chart the way forward for our School in the months and years ahead.

    I also want to take this opportunity to share some helpful resources on our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion webpage. Here, you will find articles that discuss the historical underpinning of today’s unrest, recommendations about how to talk with children about current events, reading lists for adults and children, and more.

    Finally, as the Class of 2020 goes out into a divided world, I am confident that they will be part of the solution. Using the powerful tools of the law, their skills to communicate, their ability to listen, and their capacity for empathy, I know that they will make a difference. I also hope that each of us, as members of the Punahou ‘ohana, will find ways to use what we have learned to support those in need and improve the human condition in our own communities.

    With aloha,
    Michael E. Latham, Ph.D. ’86
    President, Punahou School

    • lilypond

Helpful Resources for Discussing Race

At Punahou, cultivating social and emotional intelligence and ethical awareness is just as important as academic rigor for true college preparation.

We strive to foster within Punahou students a sense of personal and social responsibility – to demonstrate empathy and compassion, embrace diversity and become moral, engaged citizens.

This is the kind of highly self-aware, intrinsically motivated thinking that social and emotional learning is all about. Each student is nurtured toward wholeness of mind and spirit, emotion and logic, intellect and intuition.
Students have multiple touchpoints with adults across campus, including deans, advisors, faculty and counselors. These adults act as full-time listeners, mentors, advocates and communication partners amongst students, teachers and the School, ensuring everyone is on the same page and the same team for a child’s growth.