Op-Ed: Virtual Holokū…Still Beautiful


Jenn Ackerman

Screenshot from the 2020 Holokū pageant


A celebration of music, dance, laughter, and Hawaiian culture and values taken away, or so I thought. Although COVID-19 seemed to bring most Punahou events to a halt, we found a way to still spread the love and joy that the Holokū pageant brings every year by creating something virtual. Punahou understands the importance of the pageant and creatively thought of a solution utilizing its wide variety of technological resources.  It should be acknowledged that even in times of uncertainty, the Punahou community can still come together to create something beautifully virtual. 

The annual May Day program and Holokū pageant are one of Punahou’s most popular spring traditions, offering students from K – 12 the opportunity to embrace our Hawaiian culture and perform a variety of mele and oli. The first May Day held at Punahou was on May 1, 1928, with a spring festival, gala, and a procession around the Lily Pond. Although the Holokū Pageant is optional to grades 9-12, many still chose to participate. Last year, over four hundred students, and over forty faculty and staff participated in the event.

It’s good that lots of people participate in Holokū because this program helps to spread awareness of our Hawaiian history and its roots. Although we are all stuck at home, it’s amazing that the Punahou staff were still working to create a video for our Punahou community to enjoy. With so little time before the pageant, how was the video created? Punahou provided many resources on both sides, for the students and video teams.

 “We are very fortunate that all of the students have a school-issued laptop so we know they have some level of recording ability….Punahou is also lucky to have a video team that can put projects like this together,” said Andrew Ryan, who works on the Punavision team. The fact that so much work was put in by the students and editors shows how valuable this celebration of mele and oli is to the Punahou community. We must praise all of those who put work into producing a beautiful product to light up these difficult times. 

Although we couldn’t all be together for this annual celebration, it’s still heartwarming that we could use the virtual Holokū as an opportunity to come together as a community and create long-lasting memories, especially for those leaving Punahou. For seniors, these are rough times, but according to Leah Miyaki ’20, this virtual Holokū “will be a memory I can hold on to forever.”  Leah was a student director for the senior dances.  Leilehua Utu, a co-director, also said it was a chance to “honor all the hard work that everyone puts forth each year from the participants to the student’s directors and the dedicated adult instructors.” 

In times of panic and fear, Punahou was able to create something to bring our community together. Shouldn’t we praise those who worked so hard to try and create a product that brings a community together amid uncertainty?