Donor Stories

Heartfelt Mahalo for Parents and Grandparents

"The thing that I love about Punahou is that it allows students to truly pursue their passions. When you're allowed to pursue your passions and have such a good relationship with your teachers, you know that you're receiving the best possible education. And this is made possible by donors like you," said Nick Amador '18 to approximately 140 parents and grandparents gathered on June 30 for a thank-you reception hosted by the Parent Advancement Council.
President Jim Scott '70 noted that this was the last day of the 2016 – 2017 fiscal year, which was marked by two milestones: the celebration of Punahou's 175th anniversary and the launch of Ku'u Punahou, a $175 million campaign to invest in the School's people, place and purpose.

"We've been using the occasion of the 175th birthday of Punahou School to galvanize alumni all over the world, and, over time, we think that this global network of Punahou alums is going to be the value added to a Punahou education for our graduates," said Scott.

He also described the institutional priorities underpinning the campaign, such as the ability to attract and retain Hawai'i's most talented students, without family finances being a barrier to their enrollment; investment in faculty professional growth; renewal of campus facilities, including the new neighborhood for grades 2 – 5; and Punahou's commitment to serving a broader public purpose.

"It's not enough to just make Punahou better and better," he explained. "At some point, Punahou has to measure itself by what purpose it serves beyond its own walls. And that means being a private school with a public purpose, first of all in the lives of our graduates and current students, but also through our investment in the instructional thought leadership of our faculty to make all schools better – not just our own."

As Scott described the recently graduated Class of 2016, he wondered aloud what other school can claim one third of their state's national merit scholars, both of the state presidential scholars and one third of its athletic championships. He also noted that of this year's graduating seniors, approximately half are attending college on need-based financial aid, "which means we have one of the most ethnically and economically diverse student bodies in America."

Scott emphasized that this impressive class portrait would not be possible without Punahou's donor community. "The trick of any private school or college is to balance our desire to have high-quality program with our desire to keep ourselves affordable. How do you create other sources of non-tuition dollars?" He explained that every child at Punahou is subsidized by approximately $8,000 per year that comes from fundraising and endowment, and he thanked all of the parents and grandparents in the room whose generosity ensures the gift of a Punahou education for all of the School's children.

"I'm here now, as Dr. Scott says, helping to pay it forward," added PAC Co-Chair Garrett Suehiro '92. "Because when you give to Punahou, you're really saying yes – you're giving your stamp of approval to the School. For example, do you want the best possible educational experience for your children? Yes! Do you believe in renovating the campus based on the latest brain research? Yes! Do you want your child to have the best teachers in the country? Do you think instilling social and environmental responsibility is important? Yes and yes. Each gift, each stamp of approval, increases our parent participation, which is so vital to the health of our school."

In addition to all the parents and grandparents present, Suehiro thanked his co-chairs Christine Lau '95 Suehiro, and Russell '87 and Kristina Ogawa for their leadership, as well as former co-chairs and current Trustee Advisors Greg '80 and Shirley Yim, and Punahou Trustee Jeff Watanabe, who is helping to develop a grandparent advisory program together with his wife, Lynn.

The Parent Advancement Council (PAC) serves as a resource to Punahou in developing programs related to parents that support the priorities of Punahou. It was founded in 2009 and is guided by Punahou's Development Team. PAC consists of 40 volunteers with children in various grade levels. A program for grandparents is currently being developed under the leadership of Punahou Trustee and grandparent Jeff Watanabe.