Punahou School

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Punahou School
The center of the seal depicts a hala tree rooted on a spring with kalo on either side. Two night-blooming cereus flowers, which border the campus, are found on the seal's outer ring.
1601 Punahou Street
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi 96822
United States
Type Private, College-prep, Day
Established 1841
President James Kapaeʻalii Scott '70
Faculty 300+
Grades K-12
Gender Coeducational
Number of students 3,000+ (approx.)
Campus Urban
Color(s) Buff and Blue          
Athletics conference Interscholastic League of Honolulu (ILH)
Team name "Buffanblu"
colloquially "Puns" or "Buff 'n Blue"
Rivals Kamehameha, Iolani
Publication Literary magazines:
Kakela (6-8)
Ka Wai Ola (9-12)
Newspaper Ka Punahou
Yearbook Na ʻOpio (K-8)
The Oahuan (9-12)
Punahou School Campus
Old School Hall at Punahou School.jpg
Old School Hall, built in 1851
Punahou School is located in Hawaii
Punahou School
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Built 1842
NRHP Reference # 72000419[1]
Added to NRHP August 7, 1972

Punahou School (formerly Oahu College) is a private, co-educational, college preparatory school located in Honolulu CDP, City and County of Honolulu in the U.S. State of Hawaii. With about 3,760[2] students attending the school, in kindergarten through the twelfth grade, it is the largest independent school in the United States.[3]

Founded in 1841, the school has a rich history, a wide variety of programs, and its most famous alumnus, Barack Obama, who graduated in 1979.[4] Along with academics and athletics, Punahou offers visual and performing arts programs. In 2006, Punahou School was ranked as the "greenest" school in America.[5] The student body is diverse, with student selection based on both academic and non-academic considerations. In 2008 and 2009, Punahou's sports program was ranked best in the country by Sports Illustrated.[6]


In 1795, the land known as Ka Punahou was taken in battle by King Kamehameha I. Along with Ka Punahou, he gave a total of 225 acres (0.91 km2) of land (from the slope of Round Top down to the current Central Union Church, which included a 77-acre (310,000 m2)-tract of Kewalo Basin) to chief Kameʻeiamoku as a reward for his loyalty. After Kameʻeiamoku died, the land was passed down to his son, Ulumāheihei Hoapili, who lived there for twenty more years. When Hoapili left to become the governor of Maui, he gave the land to his daughter, Kuini Liliha.[7]

Ka Punahou was given by Liliha and her husband, Oahu's Governor Boki, to Reverend Hiram Bingham, one of the first Protestant missionaries in Hawaii.[8] Powerful leader Queen Kaʻahumanu was a strong supporter of the mission, and built a house for herself near the Binghams. A portion of the stone wall she had built to protect the compound from roaming cattle has been preserved.

Founded in 1841, Punahou School was originally a school for the children of missionaries serving throughout the Pacific region. It was the first school with classes only in the English language west of the Rocky Mountains.[8] The first class was held on July 11, 1842, and consisted of only fifteen students.

Punahou has educated members of the Hawaiian Royal family in its history, but it is not to be confused with the Royal School.

Daniel Dole (1808–1878) was Punahou's first principal.[9] It was known as Oahu College from 1853 to 1934.

During World War II, much of the Punahou campus was commandeered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:[10] Castle Hall (the girls' dormitory when Punahou had boarding students) was used as a command center, buildings were connected with tunnels, athletic fields were used as parking lots, the library was cleared to become sleeping quarters and an officer's mess. The cereus hedge on the campus lava rock wall was topped with barbed wire. Punahou students volunteered in hospitals and raised enough in war bonds to purchase two bombers and a fighter (among other airplanes) which were named after alumni who had fallen in service.[11][12]

In the 1970s, Punahou's upper field and gymnasium were used for the Superstars nationally televised athletic competitions.

The campus was added to the National Register of Historic Places listings in Oahu on August 7, 1972.[1]


Campus view in 1909

Many traditional events take place on campus. On the first Friday and Saturday of each February, the junior class hosts the Punahou Carnival.[13] Proceeds from this Carnival contribute to the Financial Aid program. The event is an entertainment highlight each year in Honolulu.[14]

Holoku Pageant is an annual celebration of the Hawaiian culture and arts. Students perform Hawaiian dances in traditional costumes, from lovely hula to intimidating ha'a.[15]

Sustainability Fair began in 2007 and includes on-campus conservation challenges, as well as off-campus coastline preservation. On Rice Field, classes set up canopies to showcase sustainable undertakings and projects, often including local produce sales and informational handouts.[16][17]

To celebrate the school's homecoming, students, faculty, and teachers surround, then ignite a 20-foot letter "P" at dusk. This event is preceded by a Spirit Week, where students dress and parade creatively.

Seniors can look forward to their Variety Show, written and performed by the graduating class. This play involves most of the class, over 300 students. Seniors also have Prom at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, Skip Day at the Kikila Estate and Pounders Beach, senior lunch, Baccalaureate ceremonies at Central Union Church, Commencement with men in blue blazers and women in formal white Hawaiian dresses. Graduates who started Punahou in Kindergarten are members of the Thirteen Plus Club.

The school hosts an Alumni Luau on campus during June that the newly graduated class can enjoy with other alumni classes. The annual luau also functions as a major fundraising event for the school.[18]

Throughout most of the school's history, elementary school children have been allowed to attend in bare feet. Aloha shirts were once restricted to Fridays, but dress codes were relaxed considerably during the late Seventies.


All schools in Honolulu (public or private) have an urban residential location. Nearby buildings include apartment buildings, private houses, a retirement home, a Catholic school (Maryknoll School), several small churches, and two hospitals.

Punahou shares the entrance to Manoa Valley with the University of Hawaii main campus and a few other schools such as Mid-Pacific Institute.

Punahou students are a few minutes away from the trail to Manoa Falls, the beaches at Ala Moana and Waikiki, downtown Honolulu, Lyon Arboretum, and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Situated in the foothills of the Koolau Mountains, Punahou shares Manoa Valley with the University of Hawaii main campus and a few other schools

The school's location provides many opportunities for off-campus learning: field trip destinations for middle school students have regularly included the Bishop Museum, Waikiki Aquarium, Waikiki Shell, Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial, Kawaiahaʻo Church, Sea Life Park, USS Arizona Memorial, Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, Fort Ruger at Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu Zoo, Iolani Palace, Hawaii State Capitol, and the famous beaches on Oahu's North Shore. Clubs and classes often organize trips to neighboring islands, especially to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Kohala Coast on the big island of Hawaii.

The school in recent years

Tuition is $22,050 for the 2015–2016 school year,[19] not including student activity fees. Punahou has long been regarded as an expensive school among locals, but comparable Harvard Westlake School and Sidwell Friends School charge well over $30,000 in tuition, with day tuition at Deerfield Academy above $35,000, Choate Rosemary Hall at $40,000, and Groton School above $40,000.[20][21][22][23][24]

Tuition does not cover the entire cost of educating a student, and this "deficit" is met by the school's endowment.[25][26] Punahou reported its 2014 endowment at $239M.[27] The raw value of the land is considerable for a private school: land values in lower Manoa Valley routinely exceed $1M/.3 acre,[28] making Punahou's 76 acres worth as much as its endowment. Although these figures are high among mainland U.S. private schools, Honolulu also has Iolani School with a comparable endowment (twice the endowment per pupil), and Kamehameha Schools has a $5B to $9B endowment (30 times the endowment per pupil) with a larger physical plant.[29] (Maui has Seabury Hall which has twice the endowment per pupil)[30]

Summer school academic classes, training in music and dance, and sports camps are offered at all grade levels (K-12). Courses include Recycling through Art ($500, grades 3-5), Chess Tactics ($250, grades 3-12), Language of Hawaii ($200, grades 7-8), Self-Defense ($175, grades 9-12), and JROTC Leadership Camp ($75, grades 9-12). With modest fees, Punahou's summer school is able to serve a broad population of island children.

In a recent study of the class of 1979,[31] 8 graduates had earned degrees from Harvard, 3 had degrees from Princeton, 1 from Yale, 14 from Stanford, 17 from UC Berkeley, and 26 (total) from Ivy League schools.[32] 15 had a PhD, 22 had an MD, 39 had a JD, 18 had the MBA, 10 had the DDS, DMD, DVM, or ND (about one quarter of the class reaching terminal degrees). At least five had joined the armed services, four as officers. Degrees were also obtained from Tufts, Williams, Trinity College (Connecticut), Wesleyan, MIT, Caltech, University of Chicago, Notre Dame, Mount Holyoke, Rice, Harvey Mudd, Georgetown, and Northwestern. Two went to the Naval Academy. Three went to the Sorbonne, and others to elite art schools like Cranbrook Academy of Art, and music schools like the San Francisco Conservatory. Many athletes were recruited into outstanding athletic programs, especially at West Coast schools like USC, UCLA, Pepperdine, and Stanford.[33]

Schools throughout California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada are also popular among graduates, and many students choose to attend local schools like the University of Hawaii and Chaminade.

The class of 2012 had 30 of the state's 70 National Merit Semifinalists.[34] The class of 2013 had twenty semifinalists, and five of the state's ten National Merit Scholars.[35][36]

Punahou's 30 Presidential Scholars were graduates of the classes of '64, '66, '70, '71, '75, '78 (two members), '79, '82, '84 (two members), '85, '86 (two members), '91, '92 (two members), '93, '95, '96, '98, '01, '02, '04 (three members), '05, '06, '08, and '11.[37][38]

The school repeatedly stresses in its publications that it emphasizes character over academics and athletics.


Punahou School President's House on campus
File:Punahou Chapel and Round House.jpg
Chapel courtyard and Round House

About 5000 faculty, students, and staff work in 44 buildings on 76 acres.[39]

Case Middle School

One of nine new Case Middle School buildings on campus

Before plans were made for a new middle school complex, America Online founder and alumnus Steve Case ('76) donated ten million dollars.[40] This led to construction of a new middle school for grades six through eight. The Case Middle School was actually named after the donor's parents.[41]

The project earned the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification[42][43] and a Project of the Year award in Hawaiian Electric Company's Energy Efficiency Awards.[44][45]

Sensors shut off air conditioners if windows are opened to let in the breeze; the buildings are designed to take full use of the tradewinds, with the help of the Venturi effect. There are also sensors in place that turn the lights on or off depending on whether motion is detected, and dim the lights on sunny days or brighten them on overcast or cloudy ones.

Air conditioning for the buildings is provided by three ice-making plants, one for each grade level's section. The units freeze and accumulate ice at night when electricity is cheaper, and allow the ice to melt during the day to cool the air.

Case Middle School consists of nine buildings with a total cost of roughly $50 million USD, made possible solely through donations.[43]

Omidyar K-1 Neighborhood

In late 2010 a new five-building indoor/outdoor section of campus opened for Punahou's youngest students.[46] It was constructed and operated with sustainable living as a principal goal, and the curriculum has a focus on sustainability. With solar energy, efficient landscaping, rain catchment and eco-friendly materials, the complex received a platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.[47]

Teachers are encouraged to personalize their classroom spaces,[48] and each of the 12 rooms has its own outdoor area that is one-third the size of the interior space to which it is attached.

The total cost was $26 million. Individual buildings are named the Mountain House, Forest House, and City House, and historic Wilcox Hall retains its traditional name. Board of Trustee member and ebay founder Pierre Omidyar ('84*) donated six million dollars to the project.

File:Punahou School Round Top 2.jpg
Punahou's urban location places its students minutes away from Waikiki and downtown Honolulu


The Punahou athletics program is the most successful in the state. It has won more state championships than any other high school in the nation.

Punahou football plays the second half of its season at the Aloha Stadium (where the Pro Bowl and Aloha Bowl are played).[49] In Fall 2014, the varsity football team was ranked as high as 15th in the nation.[50]

Athletic facilities include the olympic-size Waterhouse Pool, a football field, a baseball diamond, two softball diamonds, and an eight-lane track. The school also has a fieldhouse for competitive athletics, an open-air weightlifting facility, a gymnasium for physical education and intramural sports, and a tennis center with eight hard surface courts.[51] Rocky Hill has been used as a live firing range for JROTC and competitive target sports. Air riflery uses an indoor firing range.[52]

Students need two athletic credits to graduate, which is a total of four semesters. They can earn these credits through P.E. and ILH sports.[53]

Students compete in 22 sports, including air riflery, baseball, basketball. bowling, canoe paddling, cross country, cheerleading, football, golf, gymnastics, judo, kayaking, riflery, sailing, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball, water polo, and wrestling. Punahou has approximately 120 sports teams. The school is a member of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.

Punahou teams earned 20 championships in 2009–2010, out of about 30 varsity I teams fielded.

State championships

State Championships[54][55]
Season Sport Number of Championships Year
Fall Football 2 + 12 2008, 2013 *State championship bowl instituted in 1973. Prior to 1973, Punahou had 19 ILH championships. As the OIA was founded in 1940, the ILH championships of 1909-1917, 1919-1920, and 1924 can be considered "state" or "island" championships. Punahou is 2-3 in the state bowl against OIA opponents.
Volleyball, Girls 8 1973, 1993, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2011, 2012, 2014
Cross Country, Boys 11 1965, 1978, 1981, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1996
Cross Country, Girls 26 1973, 1974, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013
Air Riflery, Boys 6 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011
Air Riflery, Girls 5 2001, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011
Winter Wrestling, Boys 8 1967, 1968, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Wrestling, Girls 3 2009, 2010, 2011
Basketball, Boys 11 1970, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1990, 1999, 2008, 2012
Basketball, Girls 10 1979, 1980, 1981, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2014
Soccer, Boys 18 1976, 1977, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011
Soccer, Girls 11 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011
Swimming, Boys 42 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2007, 2008, 2010
Swimming, Girls 47 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012
Canoe Paddling, Boys 2 2002, 2012
Canoe Paddling, Girls 3 2006, 2008, 2009
Canoe Paddling, Mixed 1 2009, 2014
Spring Golf, Boys 10 1965, 1970, 1986, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013
Golf, Girls 6 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013
Volleyball, Boys 31 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013
Water Polo, Girls 7 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Tennis, Boys 48 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Tennis, Girls 40 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Judo, Boys 3 2006, 2008, 2009
Judo, Girls 3 2009, 2010, 2011
Track and Field, Boys 33 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011
Track and Field, Girls 35 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Softball 1 2013
Baseball 13 1961, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1972, 1989, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
Total 440
Ka Punahou and Castle Hall

Other programs and honors

Punahou requires all students (K - 12) to attend chapel once a week, where each homeroom is assigned its own seating and attendance is taken. In addition, academy students attend a mandatory, weekly assembly to listen to announcements or watch student performances.

Intermediate school students are taught Hawaiian History, Christian Ethics, and Oceanography. Academy students have coursework in Asian History between their years of European History and US History. Punahou offers French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Latin, and Hawaiian as languages starting in middle school.

Students have access to a jewelry studio, a pottery studio, glass-blowing facilities, technology departments, a new dance pavilion, and a dedicated music building. The campus has spaces for school-wide initiatives, e.g., for public service and international studies.

The high school yearbook, The Oahuan, has won awards from the American Scholastic Press Association.[56] Na O Pio is the yearbook for K-8. Ka Wai Ola is the school's long-running student literary publication. Ka Punahou is a biweekly student newspaper, and Punahou Bulletin is the alumni magazine.

Punahou has a strong history of academic competition with its math team and debate team, and at times has had organizations for computing, chess, and gaming. Punahou's JROTC program has been known for its award-winning close order drill team with multi-person aerials using M1 Garand rifles.

Enrichment activities have included cultural clubs, dance and theater, funding and service committees, outdoor, environmental, and hiking clubs, pep clubs, and clubs based on sports such as martial arts and synchronized swimming. There are men's, women's and mixed choruses, a concert orchestra, and various band groups. Hui Le'a Nani (literally, "heavenly singers") is the name of the elite choral group.

The current list of Academy Clubs is (*=probationary): Academic Team,* Anime & Manga, Asante Ambassadors,* Astronomy Club, Book Club, Chess Club, Chinese Club, Civil Engineering Club,* Club Hospital Helpers,* Cycling Club, Design Thinking,* Easter Seals Club, Environmental Surf Club, European Culture Club,* Fellowship for Christian Athletes, Filipino Club, Film Club, Film Makers Club,* Free Movement Club,* Friends Granting Wishes,* Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), Glass Club, Global Grindz Club,* Go Club, Hale Hawaii, Happy Club,* Hawaii Humane Society Club,* Hinano Hiking Club, Historical Film Club,* Hui O Aloha, IMAGEnation,* Impact and Inspire Club,* INK, Japanese Okinawan Club, Key Club, Korean Club, Lacrosse Club, Lemon Club,* Let's Do Stuff While Making Friends and Getting Exercise (LDSWMFGE), Math Team, Medical Science Club, Military History Club, Mock Trial, Mud Club, Music Club, Nature Nuts,* Neuro Club,* Nihonjin Club, Operation Smile,* Pa'i'ai Club, Pilates,* Polynesian Club, Punahou App Development Club.* Punahou Bible Study, Punahou Interact Club, Punahou Young Life Club, Punavision, Ranger Club, Robotics, Russian Club, Screen Printing Club,* Service-Learning Club, Social E,* Speech & Debate Team, Spoken Word and Poetry Club, Tea Society, TEDx, Ultimate Frisbee Club

The Punahou marching band travels periodically, most recently participating in the 2013 Presidential Inauguration, the 2012 London New Year's Day Parade, 2009 Presidential Inauguration, and the 2007 New Year's Day Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. The band is also scheduled to participate in the 2015 Rose Parade. In 2013, 54 members of the school symphony played four concerts in China.

The 115801 Punahou is an asteroid named in the school's honor.[57]

Notable students and faculty

(Numerical claims are substantiated in the main article on alumni. * indicates the class year of an attendee who did not graduate with the class.)

Some Punahou Alumni
Barack Obama ('79), Harvard Law Review editor, U Chicago lecturer on Constitutional Law, Nobel, Grammy and Emmy winner, author, state basketball champion, US Senator, 44th US President
Teri Ann Linn ('79), Bold and Beautiful star, Disney & pop gold recording artist, actress, model, and TV show host, state & national tennis champion, Miss USA finalist, one of five alums named Miss Hawaii
Lindsey Berg ('98), two-time Silver Medalist, one of 22 Punahou Olympians earning a total of fourteen medals, including four gold, with alumni on every US team since 1968
Ross T. Dwyer ('37), USMC Maj. Gen., Aide to the Secretary of the Navy, WWII, Korean, and Vietnam War veteran, one of at least 32 US Army, USAF, or USMC Generals from Punahou
Samuel Chapman Armstrong (1859), Hampton University founder, Union Army hero at Gettysburg, Brev. Brig. Gen., subject of biographies spanning 100 years
Hiram Bingham III (1892), US Senator, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton Professor, USAAF Lt. Col., explorer of Machu Picchu, grandson of Punahou's founder, model for Indiana Jones
Steve Case ('76), AOL founder and Time Warner chairman, philanthropist, Presidential appointee for jobs, startups, and business development
Pierre Omidyar ('84*), ebay founder, Punahou trustee, philanthropist, with donations exceeding one billion dollars
Carrie Ann Inaba ('86), Dancing with The Stars judge in her 20th season, one of People magazine's most beautiful
Elbert Tuttle (1914), Leader of the Federal Court that desegregated the South, US Army Brig. Gen., WWI and WWII veteran, Atlanta Civil Rights Walk of Fame star, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient
Joan Blondell ('25*), Miss America finalist, Oscar nominee with a Hollywood Walk of Fame star, in films for 52 years, one of five leading movie stars from Punahou
Michelle Wie ('07), teen golf phenom with seven biographies before the age of 20, youngest LPGA qualifier, four-time LPGA winner and Solheim Cup champion
Manti Te'o ('09), Heisman finalist, one of 25 Punahou alumni signed to play in the NFL or MLB, five times on championship teams
William Richards Castle, Jr. (1896), Harvard Dean and Overseer, Asst. Secretary of State, one of at least seventeen Presidential appointees from Punahou
Charles L. Veach ('62), Astronaut on two NASA shuttle missions, USAF Col., with 275 combat flight missions and Distinguished Flying Cross during the Vietnam War[58]
Brian Schatz ('90), US Senator at age 40, one of three US Senators and five US Congressmen from Punahou, and one of five Lt. Governors or Governors from Punahou
Norm Chow ('64), NFL offensive coordinator, developer of eight of the top fourteen passers in NCAA history
melody. ('00), three-time top-ten recording artist and TV show host in Japan
Sun Yat Sen (1883*), First of nine Presidents of China before Mao's Revolution, Founder of Modern China in 1912 after the last Emperor, Pu Yi[59]
Kelly Preston ('80), Hollywood leading actress in For Love of the Game, Jerry Maguire, supporting Twins, Only You, Waiting to Exhale, in her 31st year in films, and recent pop music video siren
Carissa Moore ('10), teen surfing phenom, three-time and current world tour champion, one of three world surfing champions since 1968
Francis Wai ('35), Medal of Honor recipient, US Army Capt. Killed in Action at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, lettered in three sports at Punahou
John W. Gardner ('29*), architect of Medicare, USMC Capt., Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Stanford professor and trustee,[60] one of 22 alums with an academic work cited 1000x
Buster Crabbe ('27), bronze and gold medalist in swimming, Hollywood leading man for two decades as Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers, TV show host
Hawaiian Prince Kuhio (1889), Delegate to the US Congress, heir to the Hawaiian throne, counter-revolutionary, honored with the famous Kuhio Beach Park in Waikiki and Prince Kuhio Day each year
Alma Lau Grocki ('77), one of the first women admitted to Annapolis, one of at least sixteen Punahou USN Admirals
Bob Shane ('52), co-founder of the Kingston Trio, with five #1 albums, ten top-40 hits, a #1 Grammy-winning single, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award

In public leadership

Barack Obama ('79) is the 44th President of the United States. He attended Punahou from 5th grade until graduation.

Punahou has produced many leaders in the government of Hawaii. Sanford Dole (1864) was President of the brief Republic of Hawaii, then Governor of Hawaii. Walter Frear (1881) and Lawrence M. Judd (1905) were also Governors.

Lt. Governor Brian Schatz ('90) was appointed U.S. Senator D-Hawaii to complete Daniel Inouye's final term. U.S. Senator R-Connecticut Hiram Bingham III (1892) was also elected Governor of Connecticut. Otis Pike ('39*), Democratic Congressman from New York, chaired the Pike Committee investigating Richard Nixon. Republican Charles Djou ('88) recently finished Neil Abercrombie's term as Congressman from Hawaii. After serving in Congress, Djou was deployed as an Army Reserve Major to Afghanistan. At least three other graduates from Punahou have represented Hawaii in the U.S. House.

Judge Elbert Tuttle (1914) was appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower to lead the federal court that desegregated the South (the Fifth Circuit Four). HEW Secretary John W. Gardner ('29*) was President Lyndon Johnson's architect of the Great Society. Tuttle and Gardner were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Sun Yat-Sen, the Founding Father of the Republic of China (esteemed by Taiwan as well as pre- and post-communist mainland China), attended Punahou (Oahu College) for a semester of study after graduating from Iolani School.

With Presidents of the Republic of China, the Republic of Hawaii, and the United States of America, Punahou can claim three heads of state.

File:Punahou School Front Gate.jpg
The Makai Gate at the intersection of Punahou Street and Wilder Street

In athletics

Alexander Cartwright III (1869) and his classmates were some of the earliest players of baseball (Alexander Cartwright, Jr., the official inventor of the game, spent the end of his life in Honolulu).[61] The school can claim at least one former pitcher and a former first baseman in major league baseball, and nine minor leaguers.

Professional Golfers Association event winner Parker McLachlin graduated in 1997. 4-time women's golf LPGA event winner Michelle Wie graduated in 2007.

5-time Association of Tennis Professionals doubles winner Jim Osborne graduated in 1965.

At least three alumni have been surfing world champions, including the current women's world tour winner Carissa Moore ('10).

San Diego Chargers linebacker Manti Te'o ('09) was a 2012 Heisman Trophy finalist.

Punahou has also produced six NFL linemen and four running backs, including Mark Tuinei ('78) who played 195 games over 15 years (team record) for the Dallas Cowboys, winning three Super Bowls and playing in two Pro Bowls. Ray Schoenke ('59*) played 145 games for the Cowboys and Redskins over twelve years. Charley Ane ('49) was a Pro Bowler and twice-NFL champion team captain, whose son, Kale Ane ('71), is current Punahou football coach, after a career in the NFL. The elder Ane's brothers, Herman Clark ('48) and Jim Clark ('48), also played professionally. The four combined for a total of 260 NFL games over 20 seasons for the Packers, Chiefs, Lions, Redskins, and Bears.

Pro Bowler and Super Bowler Mosi Tatupu ('74)[62] played 199 games and redefined the importance of special teams.

Among Punahou's non-professional athletes, high school All-Americans have played football for Stanford, Michigan State (twice), Santa Clara, and Notre Dame (twice); All-American college football players have played at Harvard (twice), Navy, Stanford, Northwestern, and Notre Dame.[63]

Punahou has a tradition of sending athletes to the Olympic Games, with alumni contributing four gold, eight silver, and two bronze medals, competing in many of the modern games ('20, '24, '28, '32, '52, '68, '72, '76, '84, '88, '92, '96, '00, '04, '08, '12), and on every U.S. team since 1968 (Moscow '80 would have been the second of four Olympics for Henry Marsh ('72) if not for the U.S. boycott). Warren Kealoha ('25*) was the youngest gold medalist in swimming when he won the first of two gold medals. Lindsey Berg ('98) was the U.S. Women's Volleyball team's starting setter at the London games, winning her second silver medal.[64] Punahou teachers and trustees have also won medals at the Olympic Games (see Punahou School alumni).

Pauahi Hall, completed in 1896, designed by Charles William Dickey

In academia

Historic Dillingham Hall, used for student performances

John W. Gardner taught at Stanford and Hiram Bingham III at Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Barack Obama lectured on Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago.

Punahou can point to endowed professors at Berkeley, Stanford, UCLA, Duke, Illinois, Notre Dame, Purdue, and Boston University. There are research professors of medicine at UCSF, UCLA, UCSD, USC, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, Duke, Indiana, Texas, Maryland, Pitt, Walter Reed, and Baylor. John Lie ('78) wrote six books on Asian cultures, Patrick Vinton Kirch ('68) wrote nine books on Polynesian cultures, and Fred Hoxie ('65) wrote twenty books on Native American peoples. Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer, SJ ('70) was the president of Gonzaga University. General George Forsythe ('66*), formerly the Academic Dean at West Point, is the president of Westminster College (Missouri). Marie Mookini ('74) has been admissions director for Stanford and its business school for over two decades. William Richards Castle, Jr. (1896) was a Harvard Overseer. Elizabeth Bennett Johns ('55) has been a Guggenheim Fellow. Mount Rex is named for atmospheric science pioneer, Lt. Cdr. Dan Rex ('33*).

William Ouchi ('61) wrote a book on Japanese business that is one of the top-100 most widely held books in U.S. libraries.[65] Other prominent main works by alumni (over 1000 citations for a single work, at scholar.google.com) are on the topics of leadership (Gardner '29*), plasma deformation (Killeen '42*), stability of silicates (Holdaway '54*), neuralgia vaccine (Gerson '56), coronary disease (3x, Labarthe '57), communicative acts (Harnish '59*), dynamic choice (Porteus '60), markets and bureaucracies (4x, Ouchi '61), floating point computation (Walther, '62), heart physiology (3x, Lederer '65), assay methods (Bennett, '66), marital conflict (Cummings '68), gender equality (Roos '68), pediatric respiration (Umetsu '69), equal employment law (Krieger '72), AIDS vaccination (Michael '75), autophagy assays (Terada '75), virus expression (R. Chung '78), stem cells (Mankani '79), tumor pathogenesis (D. Chung '80), legal construction of race (Haney-Lopez '82), and criminal records (Pager '89).

Samuel C. Armstrong (1859) and Elbert Tuttle were awarded Honorary Degrees from Harvard. Armstrong founded Hampton University to educate the freed slaves and Native Indians.

Punahou has a connection to Mills College through Punahou's former president, Cyrus Mills, who helped found the college with his wife, Punahou teacher Susan Tolman Mills. Queenie B. Mills was a Kindergarten director who helped design the Head Start program.

In the arts

Kaui Hart Hemmings ('94) was author of The Descendants.

IMDB.com lists 82 credits for Carrie Ann Inaba ('86) (In Living Color, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Dancing with the Stars) and 128 for Kelly Preston ('80) (Jerry Maguire, For Love of the Game, Only You, Twins). Sarah Wayne Callies ('95), has starred in Prison Break and The Walking Dead.

Joan Blondell ('25*) has a Hollywood Walk of Fame star after 52 years in films and was a nominee for best supporting actress in 1951. Buster Crabbe ('27), who had won a gold medal in the 1932 Olympics, portrayed Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers in film. Gerry Lopez ('66) is well known for surfing, but is also known as Subotai in Conan the Barbarian. Teri Ann Linn ('79) provided the beauty in The Bold and the Beautiful for over eight years. Amanda Schull ('96) had the lead role as an aspiring ballerina in Center Stage. Three alumni danced for the early Martha Graham. Leilani Jones ('75) won a Tony Award on Broadway and was on the original casts of Grind and Little Shop of Horrors.

Drew Matich '(82) has produced TV shows such as Fairly Legal, In Plain Sight, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Beautiful People, Joan of Arcadia, and Dawson's Creek. Rod Lurie ('80) has directed and produced a dozen films (Straw Dogs, The Contender) and two major TV series (Line of Fire, Commander in Chief). Kevin McCollum ('80*) directs a Broadway production company that claims eleven Tony Awards (plus five awarded personally) and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Allan Burns ('53) was a 6-time Emmy Award-winning writer and creator, known for such shows as The Munsters, Get Smart, Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Rocky and Bullwinkle. Ken Peterson ('26) animated Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and Sleeping Beauty. John Kneubuhl ('38), a Samoan royal, was a writer on Wild, Wild, West, Star Trek, Hawaii Five O, Gunsmoke, Mannix, and 40 other shows. Bruce Broughton ('62) is a film composer (Silverado, Tombstone, The Rescuers Down Under) and a 10-time Emmy-winner for TV themes (JAG, Tiny Toon Adventures). Iris Yamashita ('83*) was nominated for best original screenplay with Letters from Iwo Jima.

The Kingston Trio had two Punahou alumni as founders, Dave Guard ('52*) and Bob Shane ('52), producing five #1 albums on Billboard's charts, ten top-40 hits, a #1 Grammy-winning single, and earning a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Robin Luke ('59) was a Rockabilly Hall of Fame act. Hawaiian slack-key guitar is well represented by the popular music of Henry Kapono Kaaihue ('67) of Cecilio & Kapono. Melody Ishikawa ('00) had three top-ten albums in Japan, and Teri Ann Linn's ('79) debut CD went gold on the European charts.

In the military

General Samuel C. Armstrong led a rifle company that repelled Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg, and led U.S. Colored Troops.

Captain Francis Wai ('35) was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor, Killed in Action in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Admiral Thomas G. W. Settle ('14*) won the Navy Cross in World War II. General Donald Prentice Booth ('22*) won the Distinguished Service Medal (U.S. Army) in World War II and the Cold War. General Ned Moore ('24) won the Distinguished Service Cross (United States) in the Korean War. General Sidney Wooten ('24*) won the DSC in World War II and, with classmates Ned Moore and General Walter K. Wilson, Jr. ('24), the DSM during the Cold War. General Philip Lindeman ('26) won the DSC in World War II and DSM in the Vietnam War. General Tom Stayton ('26) won the DSM posthumously in Vietnam. General Walter Jensen ('27) earned the DSM during the Vietnam War. Admiral Gordon Chung-Hoon ('29*) won the Navy Cross in World War II. General Kelley Lemmon Jr. ('31*) and General Stanley Larsen ('33) won the DSC in World War II and DSM in Vietnam. Admiral Chester Nimitz, Jr. ('32*) won the Navy Cross in World War II. William Robertson Desobry ('36) won the DSM in Vietnam, and General Ross T. Dwyer ('37) won the DSM (Navy) in Peacetime. General George Cantlay ('38) won the DSM in Vietnam and a Peacetime DSM (Defense). General George Patton IV ('42*) won the DSC in the Vietnam War and a Peacetime DSM. Admiral Kleber Masterson, Jr. ('50*) won a DSM (Navy) in Vietnam.

Many of the students were children of high level commanders stationed in the Pacific, e.g. Chester Nimitz, Jr. and George Patton IV. Also General Edward Timberlake (1914*) (see Patrick W. Timberlake; all three brothers were Generals), Colonel Red Reeder ('20*) (his brother Frederick Reeder ('25*) was an Admiral), Donald Booth, and General Walter Johnson '(22*), all of whom graduated from West Point, and all of whom had important World War II commands. Admiral Grant Sharp '(56) and Admiral Stephen Clarey ('58) had fathers who would become Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. General Stephen Fuqua, Jr.'s ('28*) father was Chief of Infantry and Colonel Wallace Greene III's ('50) father was Commandant of the Marine Corps.

The school can claim at least fifteen Brigadier Generals, eleven Major Generals, six Lieutenant Generals, thirteen Rear Admirals, and three Vice Admirals.[66] Stanley Larsen was the first commander of the Field Force, Vietnam and commander of the Sixth United States Army.[67] Ross Dwyer was commander of the 1st Marine Division and George Cantlay was commander of the 2nd Armored Division. Donald Booth was commander of the Fourth United States Army. Kleber Masterson, Jr. commanded the United States Second Fleet. Admiral Thomas H. Copeman III ('77) is currently Commander, Naval Surface Forces Pacific and Commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic.

Colonel Farrant Turner ('13), Major Alex McKenzie ('29), and Major John Johnson ('31) commanded the Nisei 100th Infantry Battalion, a.k.a. the "Purple Heart Battalion." Johnson was Killed in Action at the Battle of Monte Cassino. The destroyer USS Chung-Hoon is named after Punahou football star, Gordon Chung-Hoon, who survived the attack on the USS Arizona (BB-39).

West Point graduates Generals Albert Lyman (1906*) and Charles Lyman (1908) were the first ethnic Hawaiians to attain that rank.[68] General C. B. Stewart ('30) was a Ph.D. in nuclear physics and General Frances Mossman ('50) has her J.D.[69] Admiral Alma Lau (Grocki) ('77) was a member of the 2nd Naval Academy class to admit women.

Many Punahou teachers in its history have been military reservists or ex-military. Former computer and math teacher Henry Wells Lawrence was one of the first pilots to respond to the Attack on Pearl Harbor.

Impromptu gathering of freshmen

In biographies

Hiram Bingham III's 2010 biography calls him A Real Life Indiana Jones.[70] Some of his other biographies appeared in 1968, 1984, 1989, and 2000.

Elbert Tuttle was an Unlikely Hero to one biographer,[71] was Chief Jurist of the Civil Rights Revolution to another,[72] and was the Quiet Civil Rights Revolutionary on NPR. PBS's Uncommon American was John Gardner.[73] Samuel Armstrong has been called The Educator of the Disenfranchised.[74] Armstrong was included in a 1927 collection called Reminiscences of Present-Day Saints[75] and his biographies span 100 years. Booker T. Washington's autobiography asserts that Armstrong was "Christ-like" and "a perfect specimen of man, physically, intellectually, and morally."[76]

Michelle Wie had a biography in 2005, two in 2006, two in 2007, again in 2008, 2009, and 2011, plus segments of 60 Minutes in 2004 and 2006.

Robert Alexander Anderson's ('12) story is told in The Dawn Patrol. Ted Withington ('40) had his letters published as Flight to Black Hammer. Charlie Wedemeyer's ('65) story is told in the Emmy-award winning film Quiet Victory. John Kneubuhl's story was a documentary film. Pierre Omidyar had biographies in 2006 and 2007. Joan Blondell has a 2007 biography. Buster Crabbe has a 2008 biography. James Michener's Hawaii (novel) and Hawaii (film) portray the historical acts of Lorrin A. Thurston (1875), Sanford Dole, Hiram Bingham I, Henry Baldwin (1891), and Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole (1889) in the transition from monarchy to US territory (Dole has biographies from 1957 and 1988, Prince Kuhio from 1974 and 1980; Princess Kaiulani (film) shows Dole and Thurston).

Amazon.com lists several hundred biographies related to Barack Obama written in the past decade.


One of the many large, old monkeypod trees on campus

In 2007, Cox Enterprises passed to two former Punahou students who are highly philanthropic like their mother Barbara Cox Anthony, who twice married Punahou alumni; daughter, Blair Kennedy ('68*), a former schoolteacher, is now the second wealthiest woman in Australia; son, James C. Kennedy ('65*), was Atlanta's philanthropist of the year 2007, and 61st on the Forbes 400 list 2012. Charles Gates, Jr. ('39) has donated $147M through his Gates Family Foundation (Gates last appeared on the Forbes 400 list in 2006). As mentioned above, the philanthropic founders of AOL and eBay were Punahou students, with both still listed on the 2012 Forbes 400. The USA Today recently reported that Pierre Omidyar's ('84*) total charitable contributions have topped one billion U.S. dollars.[77]

Charles L. Veach ('62) was an astronaut on two shuttle missions.

Nancy Cordes ('91) is a CBS News congressional correspondent.

Punahou students were crowned Miss Hawaii or Miss Hawaii USA in 1977, 1981, 1997, 1999, and 2004 (with Judi Anderson ('76) becoming Miss USA and Brook Mahealani Lee ('89*) becoming Miss Universe).

Punahou students appear across the political spectrum, from Ronald Reagan's "favorite economist" and former Enron board member Wendy Lee Gramm ('62); Ryan Henry ('68) and Robert Silberman ('75), Deputy Under Secretary of Defense and Assistant Secretary of the Army, respectively, for George H. W. Bush; to centrist Ray Schoenke ('59*), a former Democratic candidate for Maryland Governor who founded the American Hunters and Shooters Association (an alternative to the National Rifle Association); to Jerry Berman ('58), chief counsel of the ACLU.

Ellery Chun ('27) invented the Aloha Shirt.

Punahou in fiction and literature

  • "He started his scholarly investigation while still at Punahou, although he later took his B.A. at Yale, his M.A. at Harvard, his Ph.D. from Oxford and his D.Litt. from the Sorbonne. He received honorary degrees from eleven major universities, but when he died in 1914 the Honolulu Mail announced simply: 'The great scholar was educated at Punahou.' None of the rest really mattered." (Michener, Hawaii)
  • "Gramps grabbed me by the arm. 'Hell, Bar,' he whispered, 'this isn't a school. This is heaven.'" (Obama, Dreams from My Father)
  • "... I wanted a station wagon like the family in The Brady Bunch. I wanted to go steady with someone like Marcia or Jan, girls who dressed mod and spoke cool. My new school was full of girls like Marcia and Jan. I'd just started seventh grade at Punahou ... ." (Wright, Punahou Blues)
  • In the Descendants, Matt (George Clooney's character) accuses Sid of being "a hundred miles away from Smartville"." Sid declares that he is "Vice President of the Punahou chess club." Alexandra was kicked out of the school, and both parents are shown to have Punahou diplomas.
  • In the current Hawaii Five O TV series, Charlie Fong, the "extremely capable lab technician"[78] is revealed to be a Punahou graduate.
  • "We had attended high school together at Punahou, the most exclusive private school in Hawaii" (Charley Memminger in "Aloha, Lady Blue".

Memorable words addressed to Punahou

  • "The beauty ... of Hawaiian scenery is a noble teacher. ... It will make you better men and women if you will let it. Get all of it you can. Your special gaieties, parties, and things are of no account whatever compared with the ministry of mountain and sea. Listen to them, approach and live with them all you can. Hear and heed the great silent teachers about you."[79] - Letter from General S. C. Armstrong, 1888
  • "With you rides humanity's best hope. For who of your generation anywhere has had a better start? Who at this stage, anywhere in the world, is better qualified? Your generation will win its gold medals, its Pulitzers, its Nobels. Why not you? Your generation will produce its important and enduring work. Why not yours? From your generation will come those who relieve suffering, stand up to injustice, beat back ignorance, write the great books, sing the great arias, forge a lasting peace. Why not you?" - Baccalaureate Address by Punahou English teacher David McCullough, Jr., 1999
  • "Dream big dreams is my best advice. People usually sell themselves short ... When ambitions are all geared towards material goods and money, I think it displays a poverty of ambition ... The world is big ... and everybody here could be doing so much in whatever field is interesting to you. If you're into medicine, your dream should be how to cure AIDS or cancer; if you're interested in the law, you should aim for the Supreme Court; if you're into music, you should want to have hit #1 on the Billboard charts or write a symphony. The world offers so many opportunities, and I think all of you have so much potential and so much talent; it's just a matter of digging deep. Once you have dreamed those big dreams, you'll have to work hard to achieve them. There's nothing wrong with hard work."[80] - Chapel Address by Senator-Elect Barack Obama, Jr., 2004

Alma Mater

School carnival in 2007

Oʻahu A

Oʻahu a, Oʻahu a
Punahou, our Punahou;
Mau a Mau, oh mau a mau,
Punahou, our Punahou.

Throughout the years we've shown our light,
We glory in Oʻahu's might;
The Buff and Blue's a glorious sight,
Punahou, our Punahou.

The song is sung to the tune of Maryland, My Maryland also known as "O Tannenbaum". The spelling is from the original words to "Oahu A" written in 1902 by a student.[citation needed]

School shout

Ready? Hit it!

Strawberry Shortcake, Huckleberry Pie
V — I — C — T — O — R — Y
Are We In It? Well I Guess!

Punahou, Punahou, Yes, Yes, Yes!

This cheer is typically shouted by the marching band and cheerleaders at Punahou, at events such as football games and other sports activities and gatherings following the alma mater.

School mascot

Punahou doesn't have an official mascot. The symbol that perhaps most closely qualifies as a school mascot is the hala tree, whose image is used in the school's seal. Fans often refer to athletic teams as the "Sons of Oahu", or "Buff & Blue" (It was in 1890 that the colors buff and blue officially became Punahou's school colors depicting the hues of the sand and the sea. Back in 1890, long before the development of high-rises and hotels in Waikiki, all that was visible in the distance from the top of Punahou's campus was the buff-colored sand and blue-colored sea of Waikiki Beach which is probably why the colors buff and blue were chosen.)

See also


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Further reading

  • "Punahou School: a private school with a public purpose", Hawaii Business, September 1, 2003. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_go2021/is_200309/ai_n9142055
  • A. Alexander, "Baseball at Punahou Thirty-Seven Years Ago", Oahuan, June 1906.
  • Mary C. Alexander, C.P. Dodge, William R. Castle, Punahou, 1841–1941, U. California Press, 1941.
  • John B. Bowles, Day Our World Changed: December 7, 1941; Punahou '52 Remembers Pearl Harbor, Ice Cube Press, 2004. ISBN 1-888160-02-0
  • T. K. Chow-Hoy, "An inquiry into school context and the teaching of the virtues", Journal of Curriculum Studies, 2001.
  • D. Cisco, Hawaii Sports: History, Facts, and Statistics, University of Hawaii Press, 1999.
  • Ethel Mosely Damon, The Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Pageant Punahou, published by the author, 1916.
  • Charlotte P. Dodge, Punahou, The War Years, 1941–1945, 1984.
  • Nelson Foster, ed., Punahou: The History and Promise of a School of the Islands, published by Punahou School, 1992.
  • James A. Michener, Hawaii, Bantam Books, 1960. ISBN B0000CKM6G
  • Norris W. Potter, The Punahou Story, Pacific Books, 1969.
  • Punahou Class of 1957, Na Halia Aloha o Punahou Class of 1957, June 2007 http://www2.punahou.edu/pdf/Bulletin/Classof57BookWeb.pdf includes many historical photos and legend of founding.
  • M. Tate, "The Sandwich Island Missionaries Lay The Foundation for a System of Public Instruction in Hawaii", The Journal of Negro Education, 1961.
  • Kirby Wright, Punahou Blues, Lemon Shark Press, 2005. ISBN 0-9741067-1-2.

External links