PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY RAYNA MACGUYER
St. Andrew's Priory will celebrate its 140th anniversary this May. Though the Priory has changed and many students have come and gone, the school has remained true to the main purpose of its founder, Queen Emma, nurturing and educating the young women of Hawaii.
140 Years, 1 Heart
St. Andrew's Priory fulfills Queen Emma's vision for the young ladies of Hawaii
When one thinks of the Priory, the first images that come to mind are the picturesque wrought-iron fences, the stained-glass chapel and the well-behaved, plaid-clad girls who haunt the century-old campus.
St. Andrew's Priory
224 Queen Emma Square
"Kulia I Ka Nu'u"
("Strive for the Highest")
Although all of these aspects of the Priory are still intact, there have been countless additions to the campus that enable it to keep up to date with the fast-paced world. Through its 140-year life span, the Priory has hung on to the culture and traditions of the past while allowing each new generation of girls the opportunity to add its own flair to the school.
Queen Emma's founding mission is one of the few parts of the Priory that has not required any changes. The nobility of Emma's hopes for the young ladies of Hawaii causes her mission to be a timeless part of St. Andrew's Priory.
The Priory continues to provide girls with an outstanding education second to none in the field of single-sex schools. The intimate class sizes and camaraderie that prevail in the small downtown campus make the Priory both an excellent place for education as well as an embracing atmosphere in which girls mature and build confidence.
Emma's mission to provide girls with a school that supports the mind, body and spirit is just as relevant and real today as it was 140 years ago.
Although the Priory chapel is a beautiful blend of ancient architectures, there is nothing archaic about the Priory's attitude toward religion. Chapel sermons include skits and modern anecdotes that help bring traditional values to life for the students.
The Tuesday spirituality sessions are sometimes graced by gifts of music from the Priory's Praise Band. This group of musically inclined students and faculty demonstrate their love for God by playing contemporary Christian songs that get Christians and non-Christians alike excited about giving thanks to God.
A bite out of technology
St. Andrew's Priory is unsurpassed in its efforts to keep its students up to date with technology. Beginning in 2002, the school implemented a laptop program requiring middle and high school students to have laptop computers.
Computer ethics classes encouraged students to use their laptops appropriately, while a technology requirement in all classes encouraged students to practice new skills and become familiar with various computer programs.
With technology developing as fast as it does, adults often have a hard time keeping up with the constantly expanding field. It comes as no surprise that elementary students at the Priory are jumping into a field that many of their parents cannot even comprehend.
With the help of the campus' technology experts, even kindergartners can create podcasts that incorporate the topic that the class is currently studying. Podcasts give students the opportunity to share their knowledge and their entertainment skills with their peers, their parents and the public, because their podcasts are available on their teachers' Web sites.
This leap into technology helps girls to build self-confidence in their understanding of a subject and in their ability to collaborate to produce high-quality work in a technological environment.
Girls, girls, girls
In the end it is the students who keep the Priory modern. When girls begin their schooling at the Priory, they bring with them ideas and personalities that keep the school fresh and up to date. As long as girls continue to trust the Priory with their education, the Priory will remain current, and Queen Emma's timeless mission will live on for hundreds of years to come. On this 140th anniversary of the founding of St. Andrew's Priory, Queen Emma would have found that her legacy lives on in her school with a healthy balance of the traditions that she started and the innovations that modern girls bring with them into the St. Andrew's Priory family.
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Praise Band brings faith to life for schoolgirls
Though St. Andrew's Priory has changed a lot in its 140 years, it continues to honor the will of founder Queen Emma by holding weekly chapels and teaching Christian values.
Tuesday chapel at the Priory is traditional, with organ music and structured services. But in the last three years, a new club, Praise Band, has shown the Priory community a different way to worship.
Praise Band was started by band teacher Gordon Tokishi but reached new heights when art teacher Jeff Tam stepped onto the scene. Tam, using his experience as a member of the worship team at New Hope Sand Island, remade the club to show a more contemporary way to worship. Since it began in 2004, the club has performed in Priory's Tuesday chapels and in services at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Kailua and at New Hope Christian Fellowship Children's Ark at Farrington High School.
But the club is more than just a performing Christian band; it is also a place where Priory students can feel comfortable being themselves. The club's advisers serve as mentors to the students and offer Bible studies every week.
Although the club has a Christian focus, students do not have to be Christians to take part. Sophomore Misha Matsumoto, a club member for the past two years, says the best part of the club is that "it allows us to worship God in our own way through music."
One of the great things about the club is that besides being a place where students can feel comfortable sharing and talking about their faith, students are also building leadership skills. By leading a song, prayer or other part of the service, students are building their faith and confidence -- qualities that the Priory never fails to instill in its students.
Even though the school is rooted in tradition, Praise Band is just one example of how the Priory is always up to date, to make sure its students are ready when they step into the outside world.
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"What do you like most about Praise Band?"
"Praising God in a fun and exciting way."
"The excitement of their music."
"It's fun, and more people are enthusiastic about chapel."
"There's more variety in godly worship."