Special Projects
175th Anniversary

Student Performances

Special performances celebrated Punahou’s 175th anniversary throughout the 2015 – 2016 school year.

Students learned of the School’s rich history through performing in or attending two productions about the founding and earliest days of Punahou: The Founders Play and The First Generation. The Punahou Symphony joined in the anniversary festivities with a performance of “Swell Lines,” a musical piece composed by Punahou alumnus Dr. Jon Magnussen ’86.

The Founders Play

Written by faculty and acted by students, the Founders Play tells the history of the founding of Punahou 175 years ago. The play, performed for K – 12 students during Chapel services at the beginning of this school year, spans 50 years and honors the School’s Hawaiian and Christian roots.

The play tells the story of a young Hawaiian named ‘Opukaha‘ia who left the Islands aboard a cargo vessel to New England in 1809. There, he inspired seven young American couples to become the first company of missionaries to voyage to Hawai‘i and begin the work of converting the Hawaiian people to Christianity.

At the time of their arrival, the lands of Ka Punahou were in the care of Boki, the governor of O‘ahu, and his wife Liliha (whose grandfather, Kame‘eiamoku, received the lands as a gift from Kamehameha I). It was through the influence of Queen Ka‘ahumanu, Kamehameha’s favorite wife and queen regent, that the Sandwich Islands Mission was granted the Punahou lands.

The Founders Play was written by Lizzy Cooper ’63 Lowrey, Heather Taylor ’92 and Chaplain Lauren Buck Medeiros. Ensemble cast: Caleb Balisacan ’17, Katja Berthold ’17, Kai Cox ’18, Harley Derrickson ’18, Summer Derrickson ’16, David Di Martino ’17, Nathalie Jones ’17, Celia Kenney ’16, Malia Kiang ’18, Michael Kiang ’16, Lani Saunders ’17, Kylie Shaieb ’18, Malia Ane ’72 (ipu) and Beebe Freitas (piano).

The First Generation Play

Written by Lizzy Cooper ’63 Lowrey and her students in 1991 to honor Punahou’s 150th anniversary, this play picks up the story of Punahou’s first year after the Founders Play ends. It is based on original journals and newspaper articles written by the first Punahou students.

Current Junior School drama teacher Heather Taylor ’92 revived the play to celebrate the School’s 175th anniversary. The play was performed for students, faculty and staff in Thurston Memorial Chapel in March 2016.
The play begins with the very first day of school: July 11, 1842. Junior School students reenacted scenes of students traveling to campus in wagons, working in the School’s gardens and studying constellations.
The play also introduced students to several individuals who played a vital role in the founding and establishing of Punahou.

Swell Lines

Composer and Punahou alumnus Dr. Jon Magnussen ’86 dedicated the musical piece, “Swell Lines” to Director of Academy Orchestras Jonas Carlson and the Punahou Symphony in celebration of the School’s 175th anniversary.

Now a graduate from the Juilliard School, accomplished composer and assistant professor of music at University of Hawai‘i – West O‘ahu, Magnussen adapted his ocean-inspired work for a string quartet into a piece for the Punahou Symphony, complete with bass parts and solos.
Earlier, Carlson had invited Magnussen to submit his music for students to play. Magnussen took him up on the offer, going above and beyond in dedicating “Swell Lines” to the Punahou Symphony.

As a student, Magnussen played violin in the Punahou Symphony under the direction of the late Edward Springer from 1984 – 1986.
©2022 Punahou School. All Rights Reserved