Head of School Blog


We all have a favorite holiday.  For some it is Veteran’s Day, for others Yom Kippur, for me it is Thanksgiving, yet I feel it is one of our most frequently misunderstood holidays. 

In my formative years, Thanksgiving was about making goofy hats or construction-paper turkeys with colorful tail feathers in art class. What would one expect from a boy who was born and raised in a place without such an animal. In the middle years, it was about dried-out turkey (I wanted sushi and Korean BBQ) and boring family gatherings with relatives I hardly knew. It was only in my later years that I came to appreciate the time of year dedicated to gratitude, and I had much for which to be grateful.

It’s in this spirit that I share my gratitude with the LJA community for its kōkua and forbearance as we have muddled through this pandemic. In the seven months that we have been on campus, thanks to your efforts and sacrifices, we have had only one COVID case (fully recovered, thank you!) and no contagion or clusters. You have “normalized” practices around distancing, masking and handwashing. Youʻve called our Nurse when you were planning travel to seek clarification on procedures designed to keep our community safe and whole. Youʻve exercised self-restraint with respect to social gatherings, out-of-state travel and practices in your respective workplaces. Youʻve coped with short-cycle organizational learning as we implemented and tweaked new practices. For this I am unspeakably grateful. Together, we can keep this going!

Iʻd also like to thank our LJA ʻohana for exceeding Annual Fund goals and past fundraising successes. Weʻve had more families and staff participating than ever before. We met our fundraising goals on the first day of the drive and pledges continue to arrive daily. Especially in this challenging economic time, your contributions are hugely appreciated. Thanks to you, many of our students have been able to continue their studies at LJA as the number and quantity of financial aid has increased by 26%

As we come on the holiday season, I know how many of us are eager to travel or reunite with family abroad, but I implore all to individually weigh the merits of sitting tight for just a little longer. Projections from local and national centers suggest that the winter months will bring the largest wave of spread across the state and country. Oʻahu weathered the last spike but not without significant costs: lost loved ones, exhaustion of our health resources and practitioners, income and job losses from business closures. Nationally, we already hear reports of shortages of bed space and implementation of undesirable alternatives when bedspace and staff are in short supply. Let’s do our part to stop the spread, preserve in-person learning and support our healthcare workers and their families.

We can kōkua, by using our travel funds to support local businesses or the inter-island travel industry--take the family to an open-air restaurant or order pick-up, plan a staycation in a very safety-minded local hotel or, better yet, go on that long-awaited hike.

Together, our LJA ‘ohana has led the way in responding to the pandemic, supporting others in our community, expressing gratitude to those who serve on the frontlines.  Let’s ho’omau to preserve the coming season for our keiki and our kaiaulu … and with many thanks for the hands that make the delicious food that we share this Thanksgiving.  Perhaps I’m the only one looking for a morsel of garlic chicken and kimchi fried rice. #gratitude