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Punahou School

Private | K-12


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Living in Honolulu

Situated in an urban neighborhood. The median home value is $382,500. The average monthly rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is $1,400.

Source: Sperling's Best Places
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57 reviews of this school

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Posted September 5, 2014

Part 2 of review: Another criticism of the Senior Parents' Night program is that the first of two college admissions guest speakers spent too much time talking about his history of coming to Hawaii and his transition from mainland to aloha attire while visiting Hawaii schools. A minor observation (perhaps major to those of Hawaiian descent) was the second speaker s repeated reference to the whole audience and those living in the state as Hawaiians. I could just imagine the thought bubbles Eh, haoli, we not all Hawaiian in heah. ) I personally don t care, but hope Punahou s college counselors will provide him this little nuanced bit of cultural insight. Well, in the spirit of aloha, I should conclude on a positive note, so I will say that Punahou staff and faculty are wonderful as a whole and work very hard to provide a caring and supportive home to their very privileged students. My child loves the Punahou community, and I guess that s the most important ~$21k/year bottom line.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted June 13, 2014

My daughter attends Punahou and we couldn't be more pleased. We are not super wealthy and did not use "connections" to get in. She receives a well rounded education and has been exposed to so many new friends. She is very academic and athletic and this school manages to give her the best of both worlds. She is only in 5th grade and we haven't had any exposure to drugs yet, but let's face it... Drugs are everywhere. Teach your child to stand up for themselves and have strong values. If they are exposed to drugs then be confident that you taught them to make good decisions. Don't blame the school. My daughter's teachers have been super supportive and encouraged her to stretch her thinking and go beyond. She is excited to go to school and loves the campus.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted April 25, 2014

I'm a current parent of more than one student here and am quite disappointed with the quality of the education and general lack of character among the student body at this "brand name" school. Sure, my kids and their friends have superb social skills that will serve them well in the future and have received a decent enough education (still inferior to my mainland public high school program), but the curriculum is too broad and offers too many options that allow students to build a less than rigorous courseload. I had thought Punahou was a school for very bright and high achieving students, but there are many deadbeats from wealthy, connected families who have been nothing but a negative influence on my children. Many kids are high during the school day, most of the popular girls dress and act like sluts and there's too much focus on social status and material wealth. I wish Hawaii locals weren't so obsessed with "prestigious" private school connections and focused more on getting the state to improve public education. The amount of money average middle class folks here spend on private tuition is sad and such a waste.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted April 12, 2014

Both of our daughters have been Punahou students from kindergarten onward. Both are thriving, one a junior and one in 5th grade. The school - the teachers, the administrators, the parents, the students - all embrace a philosophy of the student as an individual with unique interest and talents, and the curriculum, while rigorous and demanding, is designed to allow a student to learn the material and satisfy the requirements within a broad and open structure that gives each student freedom to learn how they learn best. This is in stark contrast to the other school that is often compared to Punahou, 'Iolani, which adheres to a tightly defined and uniform structure of standards and methodologies. My nephew and niece attend 'Iolani and my daughters had that option, but we chose Punahou and we are very glad we did. My daughters' personalities are noticeably more confident and socially adjusted than those of the 'Iolani products, and academically, as judged by the standard tests, they are equal. Punahou, hands down.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted January 14, 2014

Teachers are caring and responsive, the facilities and resources are amazing, the grounds are beautiful, and the parents are very committed. The parents of my son's classmates are down to earth and come from backgrounds similar to us, both parents work, drive modest cars or can only afford one car, and live modestly. As a parent, I know what matters is that our child gets a good education, hopefully makes life-long friends, enjoys learning, and learns how to be a good person and give back to the community. Punahou (and we) have been teaching him this.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted December 8, 2013

Superficial relationships and people with a fixation on material acquisitions. I am not pleased. There is a drug problem that was not expected.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted June 26, 2012

I currently attend Punahou School and it exceeded my expectations from when I first came in 6th grade. It is preparing me for college as I want to head towards the medical field. All my cousins graduated here and have such pride in doing so. Punahou is a family -- how does it manage to maintain such close ties despite the size of the campus and variation in students? Perhaps this is due to the motivation that each student possesses. I know I work harder as a result of my peers, and I cannot thank them enough for that. There are so many opportunities available ranging from athletics (rated #1 in the nation two consecutive years by Sports Illustrated, and continues to remain high), music, art, community service clubs, social clubs, etc. It is environmentally friendly, rated #1 school by Hawaiian Electric Co. I try to take advantage of all the resources because you can't get them anywhere else. Although the tuition is high, it is well worth it. My parents work hard and I appreciate everything my family sacrifices for me. In the long run, I hope to graduate with numerous accomplishments and I am now in the process of building them up. I cannot fit everything I want to say!

Posted June 12, 2012

The application process is very stressful and arduous. While the school itself is a superb facility, it is very hard to get into. If you wish to read a more detailed account of my experiences in applying to Punahou, please read my blog at It contains helpful information and tips for parents applying to Punahou School. Good Luck.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted June 12, 2012

We are very happy with the facilities, resources, and staff at this wonderful school. We like the fact that the younger children can learn through play. I am originally from the Mainland and heard wonderful things about Punahou when I was attending a college in New York City, as several of my classmates at my college had graduated from Punahou. Also, in 2012, out of the 10 National Merit Scholars in Hawaii, 5 were from Punahou, 2 Iolani, 1 Kamehameha Schools, and 2 from Waiakea High School.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted June 8, 2012

If your child has a mild learning disability or is of average intelligence, I suggest you apply elsewhere. My son is very bright but suffers from mild Autism. For Kindergarten, your child has to score 90-95 percentile in the individual assessment. Teacher recommendations have to be stellar. Your child has to show maturity, independence, perfect behavior, & interaction with other kids. Your child can't have a bad day for both assessment days. Admissions should be more upfront in what they want for Kindergarteners. I later learned that Punahou looks for a 90-95 percentile in: Verbal, Nonverbal (reasoning using nonverbal means), Spatial (visual perception), Memory (visual/auditory) and Quantitative (number concepts). The only reason I applied is my child's teachers kept telling me how very bright he was. Went to a post-rejection conference at Punahou & it was hearbreaking. Everything negative about my child were noted, even things that most people characterize as typical behavior for a 4-year-old. Punahou doesn't accommodate children with mild learning/socialization problems. When I asked the assessor if there were kids with mild Autism at Punahou, she said she never heard of any.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted February 7, 2012

I attended Punahou from K-12 except for one year (freshman) that I attended HPA on the Big Island. Punahou is an outstanding and very forward thinking school. It prepared me well for college and law school (at top ranked schools). It gave me independent thinking skills as well as a drive to succeed that has served me well (making partner at a large successful firm). I did not come from a wealthy family and that didn't matter at Punahou any more than any other school--if anything, it mattered less. I was encouraged to play competitive sports which is something I continued through college and my adult life. Punahou alumni support each other and the school. It is one of the best schools in this country.

Posted April 1, 2011

i heard that there is an athletic track and a college prep track. how come so many punahou athletes are ineligible there first year in college?

Posted December 27, 2010

Punahou has very challenging academic programs that will challenge him or her and make her think like she has never thought before. I for one, had a hard time at first but after a few weeks, i adjusted to it and began to get used to it and understand it. The teachers here are excellent, they all treat their students like their own children and classes and teamspaces are all great, big families. The 6th grade buildings are like a home away from home from us students.

Posted June 29, 2010

Phenomenal! I am an alumni and I don't think there are enough words to describe how so incredibly awesome Punahou School is! I attended from Kindergarten and the school was my second home for 13 years! I often miss it as I live on the mainland now, but I always think back to days back on campus. The academics are definitely challenging, but groom students for college and the athletic department is better than some colleges and universities I have seen. Aside from the top notch academics and sports programs, the thing that makes Punahou stand out is that it creates a very well-rounded individual who is very open-minded and confident.Iolani and Kam cannot even come close to the prestige and the outstanding academics, social and sports programs. I only hope my children can attend in the future.

Posted April 19, 2010

Punahou is such a forward thinking school and really looks to the whole of the student to create word citizens.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted March 15, 2010

As a student about to graduate, I feel the need to give my honest input regarding the outstanding quality of Punahou School. Punahou does not alienate middle-lower class people; I can attest to that. Everyone is welcome from all backgrounds and cultures. I admit Iolani gives a superior education; Iolani's ratio of national merit scholars to students is so much higher than Punahou's. However, Punahou works to breed success rather than smarts. Formatted much like a college's, Punahou's education system promotes well-roundedness and balance. If you seek an exceptionally innovative and ambitious school, Punahou is definitely the right choice. 2010!
—Submitted by a student

Posted October 20, 2009

My daughter absolutely loves Punahou. I am so thrilled to see her enjoying herself at school, not to mention the self-esteem that she has gained since attending. A large part of the problem in the U.S. education system is due to limited partication from parents. Not so at Punahou. Parents are encouranged to be actively involved in their child's education as well as school activities and almost every parent I know happily participates. I have never seen such pride for a school coming from both the parents and students, and I am humbled to be a part of it.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted October 4, 2009

I attended Punahou from 6th through graduation. I noticed that the lower-rated reviews cite Kamehameha and Iolani as having better athletics, academics, activities, and a superior social environment. This is largely incorrect. For the past two years, Punahou has won an untouchable 13 and 16 state titles, respectively, and in 2008 was rated by Sports Illustrated as the #1 high school athletic program in America (Kamehameha/Iolani were not on the list.) As for academics, Iolani pushes harder, but at the expense of a well-rounded education and self-motivation. At Punahou, students are encouraged to excel, but also to cherish the concept of ideas and the learning process. I was middle class and I had no problem fitting in. If you can't afford a Lexus, nobody (worthwhile) cares. As for activities, Punahou Carnival, anyone?? I've been on campus on every single day of the year and there's always something going on. Go Puns!
—Submitted by a student

Posted September 2, 2009

Punahou is a good school because it offers alot of opportunities for its students, especially for college. Its one of the best in the state for athletics in high school and the academics are great for college prep. While others say Kamehemeha and Iolani are better schools, I disagree because I think Punahou does a better job in the development of a child. Some people think that all Punahou students are 'stuck-up', but that is obviously the opinion of those who don't know us. All schools have students that feel superior to their fellow classmates or others in the community because of social or economic background. Its okay for us to have pride, just like any other school would, but because our parents or whoever paid for it, most of us are grateful.
—Submitted by a student

Posted June 4, 2009

I really felt like I needed to set some things straight here after reading the reviews of Punahou. I'm writing this as a graduate who attended Punahou for 13 years. Money & Materialism: while many Punahou families were very wealthy, most kids did not flaunt their wealth. I was a scholarship student and I did not feel any socio-economic discrimination. Secondly, Punahou is WAY BETTER academically than Kamehameha. Third, to this day I list Punahou on my resume and it has gotten me in the door of countless recruiters on my college campus. In fact I have been offered jobs simply because I went to Punahou. Lastly, Punahou is one big family. The teachers are outstanding, the campus is beautiful and you get one heck of an education.

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The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.

We currently do not have any test score information for this school. Unlike public schools, private schools are not always required to report data about their schools or not required to take the same tests as public schools. Many private schools take different standardized tests; however, that information is often made available only to families of enrolled students. We strive to acquire additional private school data whenever available.

Student ethnicity

Ethnicity This school State average
Asian or Asian/Pacific Islander 45% 34%
Two or more races 26% 8%
White 25% 14%
Hispanic 3% 6%
Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander 2% 34%
American Indian/Alaska Native 0% 1%
Black 0% 2%
Source: NCES, 2011-2012

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1601 Punahou Street
Honolulu, HI 96822
Website: Click here
Phone: (808) 944-5714


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