Ascension Day is a celebration that resonate in the hearts of the St. Andrew’s Schools’ community, especially the junior class as they play a pivotal role in this cherished tradition.
Ascension Day is celebrated 40 days after Easter and commemorates the day Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. The celebration is also St. Andrew’s Founder’s Day; Queen Emma Kaleleonālani’s founded the school on Ascension Day in 1867, which fell on May 30 that year.
The junior class spends the previous night in the Robinson Courtyard busily preparing the Coral Cross – a 9-foot fixture that has been at the school since its founding in 1867 – for its great unveiling the next morning.
This longstanding tradition is highly anticipated by students, staff and event attendees.
Under the direction of class advisors, members of the junior class traditionally use more than 6,000 carnations and roses (Queen Emma’s favorite), delicately placing them into a frame constructed around the cross to hold the flowers in place according to the design.
The cross itself is made from fossiliferous reef rock from the Waimanalō High Stand and is approximately 125,000 years old. A close look reveals ancient corals, clams, oysters and snails.
“The Coral Cross represents our relationship with each other over time. Whether adorned in flowers or in its natural state – it calls on each of us to take care of the planet and the people on it,” Head of School Ruth R. Fletcher, Ph.D. said. “It symbolizes our connection to Queen Emma, our Hawaiian heritage and Episcopal faith. It connects us to each other and our many alums and calls each of us to ‘Strive for the Highest’ in all that we do.”
The Alumnae Pā'ina Luncheon follows the Ascension Day ceremonies. At Paina, St. Andrew’s Schools presents the Alumnae Award to recognize Priory alumnae who have made a difference in their communities. Special anniversary class years are seated together and class representatives are asked to say a few words on behalf of their group. The day is filled with memories of Priory days and reconnecting with former classmates.
A Golden Jubilee
By Sue Ann Bryant Wargo ‘69
St. Andrew’s Priory Class of 1969 celebrated its 50th reunion the same weekend of The Priory’s Class of 2019 Commencement. Perhaps the most indelible memory for many of us was that 39 classmates – including 14 joining from off-island – attended the reunion.
Our sisterhood came today on the first day of our reunion with Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick in the Cathedral of St. Andrew for Morning Prayer to give thanks for those able to join the celebration, prayers for those unable to attend and a poignant moment of reflection for those who have passed on.
Following the chapel service, we walked to ‘Iolani Palace for a tour, and then returned to The Priory campus for lunch and a campus tour. Head of School Ruth Fletcher warmly welcomed our class and shared updates about the school.
The next day, we met at Neiman Marcus Mariposa Restaurant with our guests and enjoyed a lovely evening of fellowship, dinner, and lots and lots of chatting. Lorrie Chang ’69 – dressed in her Priory uniform (yes, the very same uniform!) – served as the mistress of ceremonies and entertained us with a story that introduced all of us, as well as former PE teacher, Jeanne Chang ’59. Toward the end of the celebration, we made a rousing announcement when the Class of 1969 presented Fletcher with a gift for the school: $60,009 to the endowment to be used for financial aid scholarships for The Priory students.
The Priory Commencement was held on Sunday and also marked the last day of our reunion. We stood true to tradition as we officially became Golden Girls and processed in our red attire in front of the graduating class. It was a staggering sight – a sea of red flowing down the aisle of the cathedral. We were moved when we were recognized by our class motto, which we all hold near and dear to our hearts: “What we are is God’s gift to us; What we become is our gift to God.”
Commencement was not the final goodbye for us. Our reunion chairperson, Sharon Spencer Pang ’69, assured we had another opportunity for fellowship. We were ushered into the Von Holt Room following the service for a reception which allowed us more camaraderie, laughter and memories in the making – at least until the next reunion.