Punahou backs that up with 333 endowed need-based scholarships (K--12), which helps the school lure some of Oahu's most talented youth. "People talk about recruiting," says Darren Hernandez, football coach at Kapolei, a public school along Oahu's southern coast. "The truth is, a lot of parents recruit Punahou. It's the Harvard of Hawaii, and they want their kids to go there."
IN THE depth and breadth of its offerings, Scott sees Punahou as more like Stanford than Harvard. A former pitcher at Punahou, Scott ('70) played baseball for two more years, at Stanford, before hanging up his spikes. "I quit," he explains, "before I could get cut."
After graduating from college, he taught American history and coached three sports at Stevenson School (Pebble Beach, Calif.) before heading to Harvard to get his doctorate in education. He was named Punahou's president—only its third since World War II—in 1994. While the student body was less homogeneous than in the days of Buster Crabbe, Scott saw the need for more economic and ethnic diversity.
"When I was there, Punahou was known as a school for rich white kids," recalls UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow ('64), who is of Chinese descent. "If you know anything about the history of this state, you know those passions and prejudices can run pretty deep."
Shelley Fey, a Chinese-Hawaiian who coached Punahou's girls' basketball team to four state titles and now chairs the high school P.E. department, prepped at nearby Kamehameha, a private school whose century-old admission policy gives preference to native Hawaiian children. "Punahou was our rival," she says. "My perception was, they were the well-to-do kids of the CEOs. It was my perception because it was true."
Scott made it a priority to create a student body that more closely mirrored the island—"to lower the walls," as dean Peter Hata puts it. To a large extent, Scott has succeeded—in the last eight years the financial aid budget has increased 85%, and the six-year-old Trustee Scholar program provides full rides to Pacific Islanders and immigrants. But the stereotype of Punahou as an Anglo enclave still lingers. For many Hawaiians, Punahou remains a symbol of the haoles (white foreigners) who annexed their land.
"I have Hawaiian and Chinese blood in me, but I look white," says Lindsey Berg ('98), a 2004 U.S. Olympian who will likely play in Beijing. "I'd do club volleyball in the summer and get a bunch of crap [for my Punahou connection]. It was, 'You're spoiled, you have money, you go to Punahou, the haole school.' Then I'd go back to school, look around and think, There aren't that many haoles."
TO PARAPHRASE George Cross, the Oklahoma president who in the early 1950s stated his desire to "build a university the football team can be proud of," Punahou has built an academic reputation that its athletic department can be proud of. Which, frankly, is saying something.
Most impressive is the range of opportunity afforded each student. "We offer five languages: French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Hawaiian," says Laurel Bowers Husain, Punahou's director of communications. "A lot of kids enjoy taking a language that enables them to speak to their grandparents in their native tongue.
"One of our study-abroad groups goes to China. We take 30 kids. They go to Beijing, but then they go to a rural town, Baojing, where they teach English to Chinese middle school kids."