History of Ascension Day & the Mary Kapuahaulani Hart Robinson Courtyard
Ascension Day commemorates the day Jesus Christ was “lifted up to Heaven” (Acts 1:9). How fitting for founders Queen Emma and Mother Priscilla Lydia Sellon to intentionally open the doors of St. Andrew’s Priory School for Girls for the first time on Ascension Day, May 30th, 1867.
The courtyard in which Ascension Day takes place is named after a leader ahead of her time, Mary Kapuahaulani Hart Robinson ’14. Mary was an active community leader and the founder and chairman of Robinson Travel Inc., a multimillion-dollar travel business. Among many other accomplishments, Mary organized the Priory Alumnae Association in 1938 with encouragement from the Sister of the Transfiguration. She also served as the Chairwoman of the Priory Development Fund back in 1978 and was a part of the School’s Board of Trustees shortly thereafter. She led with strength and humility and showed other Priory girls that they can do anything they put their minds to.
Queen Emma envisioned a school where Hawaiian girls would receive an education that was traditionally offered only to boys. Through her leadership and vision, she paved a way for women across Hawaiʻi for generations to come. We celebrate the founding of our school each year with the Ascension Day tradition of decorating the Coral Cross in Robinson Courtyard. Embracing our school’s motto, Kūlia i ka Nuʻu, or Strive for the Highest, the lives of our students and graduates are the living legacy of Queen Emma herself.