Each year, 72 newly-admitted students join Punahou to help form a freshman class of around 425 to begin their journey in the Academy.
The curriculum is largely pre-set, with some elements of choice. Students take at least five academic courses including English, math, language, biology and social studies courses, but may opt for additional courses in arts or PE, all of which are required for graduation. Students who fulfill requirements in summer school naturally have greater flexibility to exercise choice.
The students’ Academy experience begins with a freshman orientation day on the Saturday prior to the start of school. In ninth grade, students no longer have a fixed team of teachers and classmates, but join an advisory community that will become their campus family for the next four years as they move through the Academy. Advisory teachers support students and act as their anchor for chapel, assemblies and advisory meetings, all the way through graduation.
There are number of supports in place to help students become independent self-directed learners. All freshman participate in academic coaching to learn study skills, different styles of learning and time management. Students then build on that experience with a non-credit, once-per-cycle course focusing on topics such as healthy choices, human development, substance abuse, peer pressure and emotional health.
The fall semester also features a freshman-only social event on campus and, in February, all ninth graders participate in the School’s annual Carnival and work at least one booth shift.