Each year, over 5,000 alumni celebrate their Class Reunion. It is not only a time to reconnect with classmates, but also allows for reflection and appreciation of treasured memories of their time at Punahou. With gratitude for past experiences, many alumni join the celebration by making a gift to the School on behalf of their class.
In the three years since the launch of Ku'u Punahou — The Campaign for Punahou School, Reunion Class Gifts totaling $17.7 million have contributed to the campaign fundraising goal of $175 million.
$5.3 MILLIONAverage annual amount raised through reunion giving for the past five years
30%Average percentage of reunioning alumni who contribute to their Class Gift
$1.8 MILLIONThe largest Class Gift during Reunion 2016, made by the Class of '76
$7 MILLIONTotal Reunion giving in 2016
The alumni featured below share their stories in hopes of inspiring others celebrating a reunion in 2017 to support Punahou.
By Grace Leong '84 Saturnia
Kainoa Kaumeheiwa-Rego '02
"To whom much is given, much is expected." This notion of paying it forward was instilled in Kainoa Kaumeheiwa-Rego '02 at an early age by her parents and grandmother, motivating her through Punahou and her work in government and advocacy today. "My grandmother really wanted me to attend Punahou, but she passed away before I got in. When I was accepted, my mom made sure I went. Being from a blue-collar family, we relied heavily on financial assistance for my education. I remember receiving the Pratt Bowers [Frank (1920) and Laura Pratt (1921) Bowers] and E.K. Fernandez [E.K. (1923) and Rose Fernandez] scholarships, and it meant a lot to me. A lot of people advocated for me, provided for me, and believed in me."
Kainoa credits the environment at Punahou with encouraging her to participate in the community, both locally and nationally, and to give back. "When I think of Punahou, I think of family," adds Kainoa. It's this notion of family and community that led Kainoa to come full circle and give back to Punahou.
Having missed her 10th Reunion in 2012 as she was moving to Washington, D.C. to work in a nonprofit organization, Kainoa was determined to participate in her 15th Reunion. Upon her return home, she made good on her promise to herself. As a member of her 15th Reunion Class Gift committee, Kainoa wants to motivate her classmates to think that giving provides opportunities to kids – kids like herself. "I give what I can. It's part of being in a community." It's a beautiful way to pay it forward.
Anne Ching '82
"Punahou was one fundamental thing that changed my life," Anne Ching '82 states, citing her experience from ninth to 12th grade as transformative. Teachers inspired her and gave her intellectual confidence. Anne recalls having "light bulb" moments in Mr. Steele's calculus class that made her think she could be good at math. Mrs. Crean's European History class was taught in Socratic method and prepared her for graduate school. Mr. Devlin was inspirational because "he made you think about who you were as a person."
"In general, Punahou has been my roots and foundation. It's provided me with friendships that have been enduring. It gave me confidence to branch out into the world."
This readiness to see the world led Anne to the Peace Corps after college. Anne served in central Africa for two years, living and working in the bush and rainforest – scenes out of a National Geographic magazine. After this, graduate school and work in Washington, D.C. followed. Anne later settled in Sonoma, California, and has been active in startup ventures, volunteering in local schools and in a local educational foundation.
"I was raised by a single mom who made the most important investment in me. The financial aid I received meant a huge deal to my mom. I want other less privileged kids to have the same opportunity as I did ... to have the incredible privilege to be at Punahou."
Anne encourages her classmates to give what they can. "Punahou is making such a big investment that will have an impact on schools in Hawai'i and elsewhere. We are in a new era of education, and Punahou can be the role model for the nation."
Kristi Inkinen '97 Yanagihara and Marni Beinfang '97 Sakumoto
When Kristi Inkinen '97 Yanagihara and Marni Beinfang '97 Sakumoto started kindergarten at Punahou over 30 years ago, little did they know that they'd become lifelong friends after graduation. Kristi and Marni were "good acquaintances" through Punahou and even went to the same college at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. But it wasn't until they returned home that they reconnected through Reunion activities and developed a close friendship.
According to Marni, "I appreciated Punahou more after I graduated. Being involved in my 10th year Reunion committee, I was reminded of what an amazing place Punahou is and rediscovered the amazing people here. I am thankful and grateful for the opportunities I received and would like to perpetuate opportunities for other kids today. Giving back and doing our part to contribute to this vibrant and enriching place takes teamwork."
"At best, a mediocre student and not the most academic child, I felt Punahou gave me lot of opportunities and made me a worldly individual," added Kristi. As Class Gift co-chairs for their 10th, 15th and 20th Reunions, Kristi and Marni understand that tuition doesn't cover all the costs needed to operate the school. Together they enthusiastically rally their classmates to ensure the gift of Punahou continues on to future generations.
Chris '67 and Christine Smith
When asked about his thoughts on Punahou and Hawai'i, Chris Smith '67 warmly replied, "I'm a resident of the Northwest, but my soul resides in Hawai'i. It will be home forever." For Chris, the cultural lessons and racial diversity he experienced growing up in Hawai'i and going to Punahou were special gifts that shaped and informed him throughout his life.
After graduating from the University of Oregon, Chris established himself in the Pacific Northwest, built a successful business, and dedicated himself to philanthropic pursuits in the arts and education.
A notable example of Punahou's impact on Chris was Richard Nelson's '48 art history class. Nelson's passion for art taught Chris more than any college-level course about art. This appreciation and love of art led Chris to start collecting art of the Northwest and Hawai'i in his 20s. He also has taken active leadership roles in the arts community to this day. "Had it not been for that class, I wouldn't have had this lifelong interest and passion."
"Punahou is a special place for educational opportunities. An average student, I didn't take advantage of all that I should have, but everything that I did take advantage of has paid me back a hundredfold." Traveling the world and the continental U.S., Chris is also always amazed at the strength and reach of Punahou's reputation.
Chris financially supports Punahou because of his conviction that K – 12 is critical in building "the foundations of our soul" and the future of Hawai'i. As his 50th Reunion approaches, Chris feels he's been "lucky enough to be able to be successful, so I do everything I can to return the gift back to Punahou and Hawai'i."