In Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo, Portland and Seattle, Boston and San Francisco, the champagne was popped open and hundreds of Punahou alumni raised glasses to toast their alma mater on its 175th birthday.
Attorney Andy Bunn '86 was at each of those toasts. As he raised his glass with alumni groups across the nation and the Pacific, as part of the School's birthday celebrations, moments from childhood flooded his memory. Falling into the Lily Pond in kindergarten. Hanging out with friends in the Academy quad. Playing violin in the orchestra and singing in the choir. Raising a cheer with his classmates as they ended their last Variety Show performance of senior year, three decades ago.
The memories are indelible. The moments of life at Punahou are part of his DNA, and also part of what brings him back to campus constantly as president of the Punahou Alumni Association, and one of the architects of its new "college model" alumni association with worldwide chapters. Building engagement with and connections to alumni across the years, and strengthening the growing network of alumni groups around the world, is a role he has happily embraced. Just being on campus, or hearing joyful sounds of children playing on Barwick during meetings at the President's Home, create a profound sense of calm and relaxation.
"Punahou is steeped in tradition, and that sense of community and grounding keeps me coming back to the school and reconnecting as an alumnus," says Andy. "Being involved on the board is different than donating money or attending events. You get to know people and develop relationships on a deeper level."
He won't forget the numerous 175th alumni celebrations where he stepped forward to play mandolin or 'ukulele as part of the entertainment. Or the moment at the Boston party where just minutes before the entertainment began he quickly taught the music to accompany the "Ka Punahou" hula to a younger alumnus so he could help out on the guitar.
"For the programs, we called everyone together with an oli, and followed that with the Punahou hula that the School created for the 175th," says Andy.
It was Punahou that introduced Andy to his love of music and stringed instruments. From fourth grade on, he played violin, and later mandolin and guitar, performing in school orchestras and choirs, and a classical string quartet. Now he plays with his own band of fellow alumni and Punahou fathers called "The Bus Boys."
"I unwillingly took piano in kindergarten," he recalls with a laugh. "That was a disaster. My mother got hives. Then I took up violin in fourth grade and played all the way through high school and college."
Music brought Andy and his wife, Mikiko Yazawa '87 Bunn, together. Also a musician, but a year behind him at Punahou, they reconnected through music at Williams College in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. After returning to Hawai'i, Andy headed to the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai'i – Manoa. They married just after he graduated and took a clerkship, and later a position with Chun Kerr. At that point, Mikiko launched medical studies at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at UH, and is now a physician at Straub.
Music and Punahou have remained touchstones for the family – their son, Chris '14, and daughter, Anna '19, are musicians, too – and helped inspire them to establish the Bunn Family Endowed Scholarship Fund to provide financial aid for promising music students.
"More than any other institution, Punahou has molded the way I think and interact with other people," muses Andy. "It has opened so many doors for me in the world."