The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

The Return to In-Person Chapel


Chapel is back in person at Punahou School for the 2021-2022 school year after a year and a half of online services due to the pandemic. Students and faculty alike are excited about the return, but what has changed?

After the pandemic hit Hawaii in March of 2020, Chapel was forced to operate online for the safety of the Punahou community. With no end to the pandemic in sight, Chapel continued online for the entirety of last school year, even while students were on campus. 

When asked how he reacted to having to hold online Chapel sessions, Chaplain George Scott stated “I relish human contact, so when the word came, I was bewildered on how I would do it.” 

 Rather than the usual once-a-cycle in-person services that lasted forty-five minutes, online Chapel consisted of a seven minute video sent out to the students, discussing that cycle’s topic. Face-to-face interaction in person was no longer a possibility and the structure of online Chapel made it difficult for students and chaplains to connect and share ideas like before. According to Chaplain Scott, one of the main issues with this online format was finding a way to shrink the message down into a small amount of time.

Still, Chapel faculty was hard at work to make online Chapel a memorable experience, by asking students and teachers to share their thoughts on daily prompts in the WebEx chat to keep them engaged, or having Chaplain Scott meet with advisories online once a semester. 

Finally, after working hard with the faculty and the pandemic response team, Chapel was deemed safe to hold in-person this school year. However, rather than the previous four Chapel sections separated by grade, students were split up into fourteen sections to follow COVID-19 regulations

“It’s a lot of work, but the good thing about it is each experience is different,” said Chaplain Scott.

 Major changes also had to be implemented to keep the Punahou community safe. One of the biggest changes was students not being able to sing. Chaplain Scott remarked on how this has been a tough change for him because he knows how much music can touch students’ lives. 

However, at the end of the day, he said that he is “happy that everyone is back together again in a space intended to bring us all under one roof and leave with a word of hope.” 

Students are also excited to experience Chapel in person once again. Ann Marie Tobin ‘23 said “I thought that the Chapel in-person was a much better experience than online. I loved being in the building and as a new student, it was a super calming and fun environment.” 

Academy teachers also expressed their opinions on the return to Chapel. “Two of my favorite aspects in Chapel are central to being back in person: when Chaplain Scott plays the Tibetan singing bowl and the candles are lit,” remarked Academy English teacher Dr. Anjoli Roy. She continued to say that these moments signal to her how important it is to be able to share physical space after so much time apart.

Although the return to in-person Chapel required many changes, students and faculty alike are happy it is back.“I’m glad that the students can finally gather in one space again without having to worry about homework, and can leave everything outside,” said Chaplain Scott.

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