Normally, I devote my Profile Column to individuals who perpetuate Aloha in their respective ways but this month, I am recognizing the Punahou School whose rich traditions and superior scholastic/athletic programs have created a Legacy of grooming some of the most outstanding and famous Hawaiian Islander citizens ever!
Legend is that in Kahiko Hawaii (ancient Hawaii) a kupuna Kanaka Maoli (older Hawaiian couple) had to travel far from their home in Manoa to get drinking water so one day they prayed for a spring closer to their home. They were instructed to uproot an old Hala tree on the grounds where Punahou School now sits...they did that and up bubbled a spring of clear, sweet water which they named "Ka Punahou" (the New Spring). This was the beginning of the Punahou Legacy!
Did you know that Punahou School is one of the oldest schools west of the Mississippi? In 1841, tuition for the school year for the first class of 34 students was $36.00. Today, Punahou's enrollment (kindergarten through the 12th grade) is over 3,700 students with over 98 percent of its graduating seniors going on to college! Academically, few high schools of similar size can even begin to compare! Sports Illustrated magazine rated Punahou's athletic program the fourth best in the nation.
No matter what field of endeavor one chooses to consider, a Punahou alumni has "been there/ done that"! Politically, there was Sun Yat Sen who led the people of China a long ago time. Today, a young US Senator named Barack Obama (class of '79) is recognized as one of the future leaders of the United States. In the world of business, Connie Lau ('70) is President/CEO of Hawaiian Electric Company. From the sky to the sea, there was a very unique Punahou connection when Astronaut Lacy Veach ('62) while in outer space aboard the Space Shuttle sent a message to world renowned navigator Nainoa Thompson ('72) while Nainoa was on one of his journeys on the Hawaiian open ocean canoe "Hokule`a". In our Pacific NW backyard, there are Punahou achievers like Hal Burchard ('66) Captain of the Boeing Co yacht "Daedalus" and Gail Stringer ('84) owner of the Hawaii General Store in Seattle. In sports, Punahou has produced a number of world class athletes like professional volleyball players Kevin Wong ('90), Scott Wong ('97), Stein Metzger ('91) and Mike Lambert ('92) and Olympic diver Keala O'Sullivan ('69) and professional football players like Mosi Tatupu ('74) who starred at USC and with the New England Patriots (Mosi's son Lofa Tatupu is a current Seattle Seahawk star)....and then there is the truly legendary Charley Wedemeyer ('65) who was named Hawaii's Prep Athlete of the 1960 Decade. Charley played at Michigan State then had a very sucessful career as a coach in California. Charley is most renowned for his battle with ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's disease) where Charley continued to be a successful coach even after he became wheelchair bound. Charley Wedemeyer's exemplary life was the focus of several films including one aptly titled "Courage to Live"! The latest high profile Punahou athlete is just a junior in Punahou but sixteen year old Michelle Wie is already known as one of the best female golfers in the world.
Punahou High School is coming to the Pacific NW for the Labor Day 2006 weekend and I am hoping that every Hawaii Islander here makes an effort to support Punahou while they are here. The Punahou girls volleyball team will play in the Emerald City Volleyball Invitational tournament at Eastlake HS on September 1st while the football team will play in the 8 p.m. Emerald City Kickoff Classic game on September 2nd at Qwest Field/Seahawk Stadium and all of you are invited to a Punahou sponsored All Hawaii Luau at the U of Washington on September 3rd! For one weekend, let's all be Punahou "Buff & Blue" and attend the games/cheer for the `opio (youth) who'll be here representing Hawaii! (Call 206-633-5233 for info/tickets)
Here are some "up close and personal" looks at a few of the people who will have key roles in the Labor Day 2006 events. Punahou won the 2005 ILH football crown and barely lost to Kahuku 28-21 in the Hawaii State Championship. Kale Ane, a very nice, quiet spoken but positive leader is the Punahou football coach. Kale is the son of Punahou football legend Charley Ane '49; Kale's Mom is
Marilyn Blaisdell Ane. Kale went to Michigan State where one of his teammates (and still a friend) was Tyrone Willingham (U of Washington football coach). Kale played for seven years with the NFL Kansas City Chiefs. Leading the Punahou football team is senior QB Brett Kan who is certain to light up the Seattle skies with his tremendous passing skills. Brett's favorite targets are wide receivers Micah Ostrowski and River Kim. Kainoa Richardson provides yardage on the ground when needed. The Punahou volleyball team finished third in the ILH in 2005 after winning State championships in 2003 and 2004 and is led by all star setter Liz Ka`aihue and outside hitter Larisa Nordyke. Jim Iams ('69) who coached at Oregon State and the U of Georgia from 1983-1999 is in his first year as the coach for the Punahou girls volleyball team.
Much more than a school, Punahou is a Hawaiian tradition whose alumni have been outstanding representatives, and examples, of the best that Hawaii 's diverse and multi-cultural people can offer the world.... Mahalo Punahou School and your Alumni for all you've done and do!!!
Until next time, be kind to each other......me ke Aloha pumehana........Danny