“When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planets, and love will steer the stars.” (The Age of Aquarius: lyrics by James Rado/Gerome Ragni, music by Galt MacDermot)
The Class of 1970, fifty years ago, was educated in the Age of Aquarius brought about by love, enlightenment, and peace for humanity. It was the hippie period of wild, rebellious, and independent thoughts and behaviors. While we would like to think we were a close class, the reality may have been far from it. We were a diverse group of young ladies with many different and complementary interests, lofty ideals, and personal goals. However, reflecting back, the Priory provided a safe environment supported by an interesting mix of nuns, mentors, teachers, and staff.
Many exceptional and interesting teachers have contributed to and supported each individual Golden Girl’s development. Sisters Ursula, Monica, Lucy, and other Sisters, whose names can’t be recalled, provided us with discipline, guidance, friendship, counseling, and curiosity. We were always curious about their lifestyle in Transfiguration Hall and as one classmate contributed, curious about what was under the hood! We had many outstanding and memorable mentors and teachers. For the Class of 1970, Father Walter Thomas and his wife, Beth, hold a very special place in our hearts.
As a parting legacy to the future generations of Priory graduates, the Class of 1970 collectively remained defiant when we requested that we graduate in a holomuʻu instead of the traditional cap and gown. This is a tradition that the Priory has held onto until today! We wanted to honor our school’s Hawaiian heritage and history. Lillian Izumi ’70 recalls approaching Father Minuth regarding this change and his concern was that we would never wear the holomuʻu again and the cost could not be justified. Yes, we probably never wore the holomuʻu again, but we felt so proud to have been the first class to break away from the tradition of cap and gown and graduate in a white holomuʻu, which was a Bette Muʻu design, one of Hawaiʻiʻs most respected muʻu dressmakers. Thinking back, we may have been the first high school in Hawaiʻi to have graduated in holomuʻu during that time!
It’s been fifty years since we walked down the aisle in St. Andrew’s Cathedral. Some of our classmates have left this world, some have remained good friends, and some have purposely chosen to forget about the Priory experiences. However, as Geri Young said, “I have such wonderful memories of all of us Golden Girls...and I am so grateful especially to Lillian Izumi who deserves an award for her incredible efforts to keep us connected all these years!” All it takes is one or a few Golden Girls to keep the connection going so that should we have an opportunity to meet again, everyone is welcome to rejoin the Class of 1970, renew in the spirit of love, forgiveness, enlightenment, and peace. Our Age of Aquarius.
For our Golden Girls year, a small group of us attempted to put forth our best recollections of the Priory in this article. We are hoping that our memories are accurate and shared by our classmates. Here are a few of our memories:
Robin Newman ’70:
“November 1963, fifth grade … I remember being called back to morning chapel in the cathedral because Mrs. Simpson heard on her transistor radio that JFK had been shot! What a day that was to remember in history.”
Gayle Koyanagi Pai ’70:
“The memory that has been ingrained into my whole being was when he and Mrs. Thomas adopted David (Kawika) and brought him to visit after school regularly so we could share in the excitement and the genuine love and pride he had for his new addition to the family. He made us feel like a part of his family. Although Father Thomas eventually left Hawaii, he never forgot us. He kept in touch with our class and we were able to hear of David’s continued growth, accomplishments in life, his wife, and his own family. When Father Thomas wrote to us personal letters, he addressed us as we had addressed each other while at the Priory. His mind was sharp, like we were still in school. This small gesture displayed how we had also impacted his life. We had left a mark on his heart as he had with ours.”
Pam Toone Rast ’70:
“I came to the Priory in my sophomore year. I lived on the North Shore, so I had to travel an hour each day to school. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at the Priory. Some of my favorite Priory experiences were the great friends I made, the teachers, Ascension Day and decorating the coral cross, spaghetti day for lunch, and being afraid of Sister Lucy.
Last year I went back to Hawaiʻi and visited the Priory with four of my grandchildren. I felt a great love for my years there as I told my grandchildren about my adventures. As we sat in the chapel I told them about graduation. It brought back some wonderful memories of great times and friends I hold dear to my heart!”
Ann Kamishita Ishida-Ho ’70:
“While my memories are harder to retrieve these days, there are a few highlights that I remember from my Priory experience: I was a quiet student entering the Priory. I forced myself to join the Debate Club, an activity that I never regretted and feel blessed to have engaged in.
Our class was born to stir up the status quo. We questioned, we demonstrated, we rebelled, and we did some fun and amazing things! One of my favorite memories was when our senior class planned a surprise to celebrate ʻIolani’s upcoming homecoming game. With the song “The Age of Aquarius” blasting in the courtyard, we ran from our homeroom classes dressed in hippie outfits and rocked out wildly around the coral cross. Recalling back, I think we put some smiles on the teachers and administrators’ faces that day.”