Many 2015 alumni reunion classes surpassed their fundraising and participation goals, but none more conclusively than the close-knit Class of 1990 – or what Wyeth Matsubara '90 calls the "crazy cool, weird, goofball, swagness" of the lovingly dubbed "Mighty '90."
"The older we've gotten, the closer we've gotten," says Alika Alexander '90 Piper, "and we really enjoy each other's company. Around our 15th reunion, more people started moving back, and working Carnival shifts really unified us around a common goal – giving back to Punahou." The class momentum picked up during their 20th, shadowing for the 23rd, hosting the Lu'au for the 24th and thoroughly enjoying the 25th. The end result: a class gift totaling $1,260,539 and a record-shattering 58 percent gift participation.
How did they do it? First, there was a leadership team that worked closely together in spite of their geographic distance. Many classmates participated, but at the center were Erin Peyton '90 Kippen and Piper coordinating activities. Matsubara and Butch Reddy '90 focused on the class gift, with good help from Allen Murabayashi '90 on the side.
Second, they reached out early and often, and kept it personal. With classmates all over the world and at very different life stages, they relied heavily on new media – emails instead of phonathons, Facebook instead of written correspondence. Piper explains that they decided to have "classmates reach out to each other one at a time to get them involved."
"One of the things that is special about Punahou," Kippen adds, "is that no matter where you go in the world, there is a Punahou network." The class capitalized on that network to personalize the fundraising.
Third, they focused on the little things. Matsubara observes: "We started small, just wanting to beat our last record, then reaching out and making our circle of help bigger and bigger and having more classmates respond by wanting to help." Reddy agrees that, "The details make the difference. I think reaching out on a personal level really nudged people to give back."
Fourth, they kept their eye on the prize. "It's not that we're competitive with other classes, we're competitive with ourselves. Every reunion we try to do better," says Kippen. Classmates all over the world got involved and built the excitement on Facebook by posting '80s playlists, memorabilia and "goofball emails." But in the end, "it's not about setting records," notes Matsubara, "It's about helping kids who might not otherwise have a chance to be part of the Punahou community. We're investing and building a better community."
Reddy adds: "Our class has some of the most unique characters that I've ever met in my lifetime. I think we've all seen and done a lot since leaving Punahou, but even after 25 years, I haven't met characters that I love more, laugh at or with louder and, most importantly, learned more from for the road ahead. Reunions are not just about reliving the past; they are also an opportunity for new beginnings and relationships."
From left: Alika Alexander '90 Piper, Wyeth Matsubara '90 and Erin Peyton '90 Kippen.