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

Coronavirus Creates Problems for Punahou Traditions

The recent Coronavirus resurgence in Hawaii has left the Punahou academy community questioning the status of their annual traditions.

Throughout July and early August, Hawaii saw a dramatic rise in Coronavirus cases. The spike came unexpectedly and the state took measures to ensure the safety of the citizens. However, it has since been on a downward trend.

On August 8 Mayor Kirk Caldwell issued new restrictions regarding social areas including state parks, beaches, hikes, bowling alleys, and city and private swimming pools.

Prior to Caldwell’s mandate, the Hawaii Board of Education convened on July 30 and decided to postpone the start of the school year from August 4th to the 17th for public institutions to allow for the transition to remote learning. Punahou school had intended to begin the school year in-person following the guidelines of the yellow tier stated in their “Return to Campus Plan,” however as the status of the pandemic worsened, the school had to adjust.

Currently, the school is in the red tier which represents the highest level of risk. Students are learning remotely and everything has transitioned to online adaptations.

Punahou started the year on August 19 with their new and improved remote learning program. On this day the school also had its annual Convocation ceremony and it came with a twist. This year the program was broadcast live online as the students tuned in to watch.

Traditionally, the Convocation ceremony is held on Punahou’s upper field on the first day of school, but with Convocation being forced to go virtual this year, the status of other traditions has now come into question. Convocation is a time-honored tradition that celebrates the start of a new school year and is important to the Punahou community and the seniors in particular as it represents the beginning of their last year before graduation.

Along with Convocation, other traditions are having to be reshaped or dropped altogether. These include the senior rite of passage known as “taking over the boat,” senior privilege cards, Halloween Canteen as well as football games.

With football games postponed until January, uncertainty lied around the status of Flaming P, Punahou’s “homecoming rally” ceremony, which is one the school’s only fall events. But the school has confirmed that it will happen.

“Considering I’ve been here since kindergarten, I’m gonna be pretty disappointed because everyone else got to experience it and we won’t have the luxury of being on campus and being together” said Kai Pressman ‘21 when asked how he felt about not being able to experience class traditions.

In the second semester of last year, classes were also forced online as a result of the pandemic. A stay-at-home order was imposed and social restrictions were introduced. Due to the growing pandemic, last year’s seniors’ prom, skip day, baccalaureate, and other class events were cancelled.

“It really sucks cause it’s one of the only things you know you can look forward to, and that you strive for your whole life, and when it’s not all ‘perfect,’ it’s sad,” added Aaron Goo ‘20 in response to the effect that the cancellation of class events had on the students.

If cases continue to decrease, the Punahou administration has set October 5 as the date that students will be able to return to campus. The faculty and administration are looking to the students for solutions to allow for any of these traditional events to happen.

“You have to bring us ideas and we’ll figure out ways to make them happen, ” replied Punahou academy principal Emily McCarren when questioned what the school was doing to give students an authentic academy experience. Now is a time for “creative problem solving” she declared.

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