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Spring 2010

A Culture of Giving Back
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Spring 2010 - Department | Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note

I am sitting in the last pew of St. Alban’s Chapel, enjoying a reflective moment in the midst of a busy day.

Except for the voices of students who are sitting in a circle on the lanai and the whisper of leaves brushing against branches as wind seeps through, I hear only an empty chapel and see the reflection of stained glass on the tile floor. The pews are smooth except for the visual texture of koa’s grain.

The lawn outside smells freshly cut. Through the sliding glass doors, I see students and teachers walking along paths. There goes cafeteria manager Kevin Wada pushing a cart of sandwiches.

I am reminded of the many times I have sat in this chapel over the years.   Beneath the arched banisters, between the columns, the services and events in St. Alban’s Chapel are held for an array of reasons. Here, beginnings and endings are celebrated. Guest speakers share insights with students on topics such as peace and inspiration. We come to pray, meditate, reflect and learn.

As is ‘Iolani, St. Alban’s Chapel is like a mile marker of routines and rituals.

This is where the kindergartners celebrate their grandparents by holding a special program in the fall. ‘Iolani’s littlest students sing, dance and smile their way into the deepest parts of their grandparents’ hearts with expressions of  how much they love and appreciate them, and how they learn from them as well.

Here, sixth graders graduate into Upper School during a promotion ceremony at each school year’s end. They are recognized for their accomplishments, and, in turn, thank their parents for things, like helping them with homework, shuttling them to practices and games, wiping their noses, and all of the other unglamorous jobs that come with being mom and dad. In the final part of the ceremony, the sixth graders, seated in the chapel’s front pews, turn around to face their families and then sing a class song.

This past January, a memorial service for Coach Eddie Hamada ’46 was held. Nearly 2,000 people came from near and far to gather and pay their respects to his dear wife Cynthia and family, and to remember one of the most beloved members of the ‘Iolani community. Hamada is now a legend of his own, inspiring thousands and influencing countless others with his genuine goodness. The chapel is where we share moments that we’ll never forget.

Come May 30, St. Alban’s will once again be the venue for Baccalaureate, this year honoring the Class of 2010. The seniors will light candles and hear speeches. Families will sit amazed and wonder where did the years go? It will be the final week until graduation.

What will seniors miss about ‘Iolani?

“Friends,” said Kylie Kim ’10. “Most of them, we’ve been together since sixth grade and I’ve gotten to know their families and their siblings and they’ve gotten to know my family too. I don’t know if that will happen in college.”

The rite of passage of high school is bittersweet. Yes, graduation is the culmination of their adolescent years; but, it is also a commencement of each student’s adult life. Surely, graduation does not mean the senior students end their ties to ‘Iolani and each other. As the 2009 graduates – and all alumni who came before them – showed, the senior class will remain in touch, returning for reunions and other events. A few may even come back as teachers.

Nevertheless, something will be undeniable the first time the graduates step back on to campus after receiving their diplomas. They will be alumni. They will see ‘Iolani differently, because they will be different.

I know that at some point during their journeys through life, a time will come when they will pause in the midst of a busy day, just as I do now. Each will gaze into his or her own proverbial rear view mirror, reminiscing about their childhood and the people and places which helped form the unique adults they will have since become.  

Hopefully, their recollections bring them smiles as they recount the chapters and milestones in their lives, and ‘Iolani remains a touchstone for all, as stalwart as St. Alban’s Chapel.