Celebrating Our Founder: Mauna ʻAla 2020
Celebrating Our Founder: Mauna ʻAla 2020
Elizabeth McDonnel

Last Tuesday, we celebrated the 184th birthday of our founder, Emma Kalanikaumakaʻamano Kaleleonālani Naʻea Rooke (January 2, 1836 – April 25, 1885) in our traditional Mauna 'Ala celebration. A transformational leader, Queen Emma dedicated herself to serving the health, educational and spiritual needs of her people. Queen Emma is often called the people's queen because of her commitment and dedication to improving the lives of others. She recognized the need for young girls to have access to quality education and in 1867, founded St. Andrew's Priory School for Girls (K-12). Since our founding, our community has grown to include The Prep (all boys, K-6) and Queen Emma Preschool (coed, ages 2-5 yrs), and today, as one school, we continue to Kūlia i ka Nuʻu, Strive for the Highest.

Our celebration began with an all-school chapel in The Cathedral of St. Andrew. Our senior class led the oli, "Eō Ke Kuini," to begin the service. Queen Emma's portrait, flanked by paʻa kāhili, was positioned in a place of honor facing the congregation and draped with maile. It was a visual reminder of the woman we so admire. Following the service in the Cathedral, students presented hoʻokupu (tribute) to Queen Emma's bust in the James and Abigail Campbell Park. Students took the opportunity to honor Queen Emma with a rose or maile lei for her daring vision and courage.

Following the all-school celebration, the Class of 2020, the Class of 2021, and several faculty and staff traveled to Mauna ʻAla, the Royal Mausoleum, where a special service was held to commemorate the life and legacy of Queen Emma. Mauna ʻAla is the final resting place of Hawaii's two prominent royal families: the Kamehameha Dynasty and the Kalākaua Dynasty.

Our beloved Bishop Bob officiated and our very own Kumu Aggy Kusunoki served as this year's guest speaker. Guests included the Hawaiian Royal Benevolent Societies, the Hawaiian Civic Clubs, community representatives, clergy, our Board of Trustees and their special guests, and many others.

Kumu Aggy spoke to our students and guest about Queen Emma's life and legacy, reminding us that, "Emma has become a beacon of light for so many people. She is the reason we are all here today. As the beneficiaries of what Emma envisioned and created, we have the kuleana (responsibility) to perpetuate Emma's legacy. We must go and embody Emma's light in a world that is dark and desperately needs more goodness. "

The service concluded with a procession to the Kamehameha Tomb where guests presented hoʻokupu to honor our beloved ʻEmalani. After the service, our senior class was invited on a special historical tour of the Mauna 'Ala grounds led by mausoleum staff.

To see more photos, click here.