Donors Discover the Sidney and Minnie Kosasa Neighborhood
"If we're able to dream big and see long distances it's because of your support," said President Jim Scott '70 to approximately 80 leadership donors gathered at an intimate reception on September 27, 2016. Behind him, the first four studio buildings of the newly opened Sidney and Minnie Kosasa Neighborhood stood out in luminous contrast to the evening sky – a striking image for those present of what their generosity had made possible.
"This neighborhood is teacher inspired, research based, and student centered," he continued. "It's been six years in planning and you've been our partners along the way. This is really the last phase of a complete overhaul of the Junior School that began in 1999 with the lead gift of Steve and Jean Case that allowed us to build Case Middle School."
Punahou School Board of Trustees Chair Kitty Sullivan '75 Wo thanked Tom Kosasa '63 and his siblings Paul, Gloria '68 and Susan, who named the neighborhood in honor of their parents. "Through their transformative lead gifts they have made this amazing learning environment a reality for our student and faculty for generations to come," said Wo.
Earlier in the evening, attendees toured the Kosasa Neighborhood, hearing directly from teachers, supervisors, architects and engineers about the new environment. From outdoor spaces that support Hawaiian Studies curriculum to flexible classroom design that enables more personalized instruction to a state-of-the-art facility that is the first on campus to harvest all of its own renewable energy, the neighborhood offered an inspiring glimpse of what is yet to come in the second phase of the grades 2 – 5 community.
With construction already underway, guests were able to view the future site of three additional classroom studio buildings and a Learning Commons that will serve as the creative hub of the entire Junior School. Designed for children's questions to be translated into projects, products and solutions, the Learning Commons will connect the classroom studios to a dynamic shared space that includes technology and media labs, makeries, research and reference areas, and a center for visual and performing arts.
Demonstrating the momentum that this second phase has already generated, Scott announced that an anonymous donor had recently pledged a significant eight-figure gift that will "challenge others in the community to join everyone gathered here tonight in support of this project."
Junior School Principal Paris Priore-Kim '76 reminded guests of the joy that second- and third-graders have brought to their new home during their first month of school. "Thank you for taking the evening to glimpse what is so wonderful here. With the children, the program absolutely comes alive. Their sense of who they are as learners is emerging and that is such powerful knowledge for kids to have. These dynamic and flexible spaces adjust to their needs, conjuring community and connection and sense of place in the most amazing ways."