The Arts

From Kindergarten to grade 12, students enjoy broad exposure to visual and performing arts as an integral part of the curriculum, by participating in clubs, and through a wide variety of co-curricular options, both after school and during the school day.

Co-curricular opportunities include music, dance and theatre; music and dance are open to the community, as well as Punahou students.

K – 12 Curriculum


Music is required of all students, Kindergarten – grade 12. The music curriculum allows students to participate in a variety of music experiences: making music through singing, playing instruments, creating, moving, listening and analyzing, reading and writing music in notation, exploring the music of many cultures and making music through technology. Class and grade level performances occur regularly, which celebrate special seasons or as a joint effort with classroom teachers or chaplains.

In kindergarten, music begins with the classroom teacher and progresses to activities that engage increasingly complex skills, with the guidance of a music specialist. Through grade 6, music is taught as a special class by a music teacher.

Beginning in grade 5, the opportunity is available to take beginning group instruction in all wind, string and percussion instruments, as well as sing in the choir.

In grades 7 and 8, students can choose from choir, orchestra and band on a beginning, intermediate or advanced musical ability. This is the first concentrated study of music literature of various periods and styles. Several concerts are presented during the school year. For seventh- and eighth-graders not involved with one of the above musical groups, a class in music exploration is required.

In the Academy, students must earn two credits in performing arts courses in order to graduate. Beginning in grade 9, students may fulfill these requirements through participation in music courses, including performance-based classes, Music Theory, Music History or Perspectives in the Arts. Concerts and other performances periodically culminate their classwork and demonstrate their developing skills, knowledge and understanding. 

The large numbers of students enrolled in elective music classes and the large numbers of students involved in music on a daily basis in elementary classes are an affirmation of the value placed on music education at Punahou.


Theatre has a long history at Punahou. Though the Drama Department was officially formed in 1986, theatrical productions have been a part of Punahou curricular or co-curricular activities since its founding in 1841.

In Kindergarten – grade 5, theatre is incorporated into chapel productions, with the direction of drama faculty. In grade 6 – 8, drama, musical theatre, improvisation and technical theatre electives become available.

Punahou's Academy graduation requirements include two credits in the Visual and Performing Arts. All Theatre courses may be taken to fulfill this requirement or general elective requirements.

The Academy (grades 9 – 12) theatre courses includes varied topics in acting, musical theatre and technical theatre.

Visual Arts

Students are encouraged to express themselves through art. With the many courses available, the Visual Arts curriculum helps each student find joy in creating art through a variety of ways, including two- and three-dimensional media.

The Junior School's art program, under the guidance of specialists, addresses basic art principles and elements, including repeat patterns, color exploration and geometric shapes. Students in Kindergarten – grade 4 have classes with an art teacher one or two days per cycle. Art classes for grades 5 and 6 meet once a cycle. Grades 7 and 8 may elect to take art in focused subjects such as sculpture, painting or general art two days per cycle.

Academy students need two Visual and Performing Arts credits to graduate and have an outstanding variety of art courses in varying disciplines to choose from, including:

  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Printmaking
  • Photography
  • Digital Art, Photography and Video
  • Ceramics
  • Glassblowing
  • Jewelry
  • Sculpture
  • Art History