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Kamehameha Schools Director of Advancement and Executive Director of the Pauahi Foundation Pono Ma‘a KSK’82 offers a heartfelt mahalo at the closing of Alumni Month 2020

Innovation keeps alumni traditions alive during uncertain times

July 7, 2020

Contributed by 'Alohi Bikle

In March, Kamehameha Schools Director of Advancement and Executive Director of the Pauahi Foundation Pono Ma‘a KSK’82 shared with KS Kapālama alumni that in response to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, the difficult decision was made to cancel Alumni Week.

Determined to address the inevitable alumni disappointment, Maʻa and the KS Alumni Relations team along with volunteers and community partners leaned on innovation to keep the tradition of Alumni Week alive, turning the signature week-long event typically held in June into a month-long celebration with global reach.

Dubbed Alumni Month 2020, festivities kicked off with a series of videos by KS Cultural Consultant Manu Boyd KSK’80, offering alumni the opportunity to learn about and reconnect with the loina, or traditions and customs, of KS.

Modeled after an activity enjoyed by many across the world during mandatory coronavirus stay-at-home orders, week two celebrated the art of mele featuring a pre-recorded kanikapila session entitled Alumni ma ka Hale, hosted by the class of 1991.

Week three brought generations of alumni together over ‘ono food, with the sharing of favorite KS recipes provided by FLIK staff, followed by the delivery of meals to kūpuna classmates in the decades of the 40s, 50s, and 60s. This year, in lieu of the Kūpuna Pāʻina, alumni purchased food for kūpuna in celebration of the meal they could not physically share together, delivering mea ‘ai all over the pae ‘āina.

“That event made me realize how much I missed our alumni,” said KS Kapālama Volunteer Program Coordinator Kalei Adams-Kaʻōnohi KSK’91. “I was able to take my mom with me, a 1961 graduate, and she had a chance to catch up with alumni that she hasn’t seen in years. It was fun to hear them chat.”

Rounding out Alumni Month was the Bernice Pauahi Memorial Chapel Service, led by Kahu Sherman Thompson KSK’74, which for KSK Parent Alumni Office staffer Luana Chong KSK’60 felt more like an in-person service than virtual one. “It was very heartwarming in remembering our classmates who have passed on and cherishing the memories we’ve shared throughout the years,” said Chong, who originally retired from KS in 2007 after more than 12 years as an administrative coordinator in the Land Assets Division.

Depending on the status quo a year from now, Maʻa shared that Alumni Relations is looking forward to keeping the momentum going by offering a mixture of traditional in-person and virtual events both live and pre-recorded.

“Our current circumstances are teaching us about the ways in which we can provide quality programming in non-traditional ways,” he said. “We may not be able to bring everyone home, but we can certainly provide a little bit of home wherever they are.”

To hear more from Ma'a about the first-ever Alumni Month, and to learn about an exciting announcement geared toward connecting with alumni via a new channel, check out his appearance on Ka Piko Podcast.

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