It was innovative. It was fun. And it was family. Chaminade University’s alumni ignited the campus with positivity for their annual reunion celebration from Thursday, March 31 to Sunday, April 2.
Thursday evening’s Mocktails and Masterpieces event kindled the fire with bursts of creativity. With artist Jenny B. facilitating, alumni painted canvas masterpieces that they could take home. The alumni mingled and caught up with old friends. The familiar warmth of campus ‘ohana surged feelings of nostalgia and fanned their anticipation for Saturday.
On Saturday, a gentle mist of rain blew through campus, and the angelic acapella voices of Kaipo Leopoldino, BS ’14, Teuila Tauaese, BA ’13 and Baron Kaholokua, BA ’13 sang the Hawaiian Doxology Ho‘onani I Ka Makua Mau ( Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow). People in the crowd pulled out their cell phones to record the “chicken skin” moment. With that blessing, the Alumni Reunion Street Festival – Food Truck Rally opened into a free-flow night under the stars.
Residence Hall Association (RHA) students lined the Sullivan Family Library stairs to welcome home alumni. The RHA students wore white “I LOVE CHAMINADE” T-shirts accessorized with round Chaminade spirit buttons that read, “Once a student, Always an Alum.” Blue ribbons with the message “Alumni in Training” hung from the buttons.
“It was so beautiful to see that we had alumni, commuter students, resident students, and faculty come together for this event. When I stepped onto Second Road and saw all the food trucks and so many people, it was overwhelming,” said RHA student president Savannah Lyn Delos Santos from Saipan.
Outside of the Sullivan Family Library, a photo booth captured the memories of friendships and newly made friends. There was a ceramic pot sale setup by Fine Arts professor Yukio Ozaki, and the Campus Store offered Chaminade logo items for sale. Alumni like Teresa Fujino, MBA ’16 guided activities such as “DIY – Salty Scrubs,” where participants made bath scrubs. Kacie Cohen, MSCP ’13 and Darren Iwamoto, MSCP ’98 with Dale Fryxell, grant director of the E Ho‘opili No Na Haumana Project and interim dean of Education, manned the 110-AOK (Acts of Kindness) beading table.
The crowd echoed excitement when Leopoldino kicked off his shoes to dance the hula. From that point on, the event accelerated into high energy as Stacie Ku'ulei, BS '02, MED '10 emceed and entertained throughout the evening.
The Reunion Street Festival – Food Truck Rally had many memorable highlights, thanks to the collaboration of the Office of Alumni Relations and Residence Hall Association. Tasty smells from the food trucks permeated the air as people lined up in front of Hawaii’s favorite food trucks on Second Road. Chardonnay Pao, BA ’13, MBA ’15 and Cherie Ann Park, MSCP ’13 served various ono plates from Kapakahi Grindz. The Nalo Made Lemonade booth was a hit. Shawn Niwa Kadooka, BBA ’91 mentioned how happy she was to be a part of the event, and said it required two resupply runs. Also, depending on your appetite, you could also choose dishes from Prime Sandwiches or Chamorro Grindz or something refreshing from Tats Shaved Ice.
“Featuring alum or alum related vendors is the best! It brings a sense of pride to the event knowing that Chaminade is investing and supporting alum businesses. I saw alum, current students, and employees coming to buy our product. The positive vibes were just on a whole other level of awesome,” Pao said. “Good music, ono food, and the use of Chaminade Dollars brought another sense of school spirit to the event.”
Jeannie Pinpin Lum, BA ’05, MBA ’07 crafted a social meet-up game, Mingle Bingo, which gave participants the opportunity to meet each other and for students to connect with alumni and build their Chaminade networks. Lolita Lum Hoy ‘61 gave it two thumbs up. “The Bingo game was fun. It gave me an opportunity to meet many new people. I was able to meet people from Pittsburgh, Texas, Guam, Georgia, Oakland, and Mililani,” she said.
During a more structured part of the evening, Aunty Susan Frank Kama, BS ’61 in her melodic voice started a Lei Aloha 'oli that cued alums to form a line as Chaminade president Bro. Bernard Ploeger, SM was escorted to the lawn. The chant continued as alums showered Bro. Ploeger with lei, warm hugs, and bid him a fond farewell as he concludes his 23 years of service at Chaminade University.
Pinpin danced to “I’ll Remember You,” the classic song by Kui Lee. She offered the heartfelt emotional hula as a gift to Bro. Ploeger on behalf of the alumni.
The program also highlighted those classes ending in two and seven, pioneer classes from 1959 – 1966, and the class of 1967 celebrating its 50th Reunion. Those, who had traveled from out of state to attend, were also recognized. There were lots of prizes to give away, thanks to generous alumni, as well as lots of nostalgia and the tears that go with it.
Then Micah G hit the stage and got the students, alumni, faculty, staff, and Marianists to get out of their seats and dance. The lawn in front of the library turned into a huge dance floor.
Night settled, and lights dimmed. On Sunday morning, the warmth of the embers could still be felt at Mystical Rose Oratory for the Alumni Mass. The alumni received a special blessing. Later they hugged each other and said their ahui hou (until we meet again).
“There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into a reunion celebration, and it is gratifying to see so many come out and enjoy the festivities,” remarked Be-Jay Kodama, ’86, MBA ’16, Chaminade’s director of Alumni Relations. “This year’s reunion committee took a rather bold move to carefully craft a reunion that would create moments of renewed connection to our Chaminade community, and create opportunities to enrich the lives of students who are alumni tomorrow through collaborative efforts of the Office of Alumni Relations and the Residence Hall Association. What an evening to witness the spirit of the Chaminade community through this experience. I can’t wait to build upon this for next year.”
At the recent 12th Annual Co-Curricular Awards, the Office of Alumni Relations and Residence Hall Association were presented the Father Stephen Tutas Program Award for Excellence for “The Reunion Street Festival – Food Truck Rally,” in recognition of valuable contributions to Chaminade University as the best event of the year.
Mahalo to all, especially the Alumni Reunion Committee Volunteers: Alice Kaahanui BA ’86, Bernard Lum Hoy, BA ’59, Lolita Lum Hoy, BS ’61, Christy Aiwohi, BBA ’87, David Dinh, MBA ’15, Heather Nakao, BS ’12, BA ’15, Jeannie Pinpin, BA ’05, BA ’07, Lois Nakamura, BA ’85, Linda Tavares, BS ’63 Michael “Pika” Ahakuelo, BA ’02, MBA ’11, Scott Kishimori, BBA ’87, Shayne Iwamoto, AA ’12, BS ’13, Susan Frank Kama, BS ’61, Sweetie Pacarro, BA ’89, Terrence Kong, BS ’89, MSCP ’03.
RHA students showed their Chaminade spirit.