Kamehameha School’s first Founder’s Day held in gymnasium at 3:30 p.m., December 19, 1888.


First Celebration of Founder’s Day—Interesting Exercises.

There was a fair gathering at the Kamehameha School on Wednesday afternoon, the occasion being the first observance of Founder’s Day, the birthday anniversary of the late Mrs. Bernice Pauahi Bishop, by whose munificent bequest the institution was founded. The exercises were held in the gymnasium and the following invited guests were present: H. R. H. Princess Liliuokalani attended by Mrs. J. O. Carter, Hon. C. R. Bishop, Rev. C. M. Hyde, D. D., and Mrs. Hyde, Rev. E. G. Beckwith, D. D., Rev. W. C. Merritt and Mrs. Merritt, Lieut. Crawford, U. S. N., Mrs. W. B. Oleson, Hon. W. F. Allen and Mrs. Allen, Hon. H. M. Whitney, Capt. Bourke, R. N., Capt. Acland, R. N., Major-General Cunliffe, R. A., Hon. S. M. Damon, Mr. W. W. Hall and Mrs. Hall, Prof. M. M. Scott and Mrs. Scott, Mr. J. H. Paty and Mrs. Paty, Mrs. J. U. Kawainui, Mrs. Napoliona, Prof. W. D. Alexander, Mr. C. M. Cooke and Mrs. Cooke, Mrs. Hartwell, Mr. T. G. Gribble and Mrs. Gribble, Mrs. Whitman, and a few others.

Messrs. Lyman, Townsend, and Terry, of the faculty, acted as ushers, and the lady members of the faculty were among those present. Rev. W. B. Oleson, Principal of the institution, Hon. C. R. Bishop, President of the Board of Education, as well as Chairman of the Trustees, and Lieut. Crawford, were seated on the platform. The exercises were opened with the hymn “Cast Thy Burden on the Lord,” sung very beautifully by the school under the leadership of the Hon. H. S. Townsend, after which prayer was made by the Rev. Dr. Hyde. The Rev. Mr. Oleson then introduced the Hon. C. R. Bishop, who had prepared a speech for the occasion. The honorable gentleman gave a historical sketch of the genesis of the institution substantially as follows:

The trustees of the estate of the late Hon. Bernice Pauahi Bishop, in setting apart an annual holiday for the Kamehameha Schools to be known as Founder’s Day, had chosen the anniversary of that lady’s birth, the 19th of December, for that purpose. If an institution is useful to mankind, then is the founder thereof worthy to be gratefully remembered. Kamehameha I., by his skill and courage as a warrior and his ability as a ruler, founded this nation, Kamehameha II. abolished the tabu and opened the way for Christianity and civilization to come in. Kamehameha III. gave to the people their kuleanas and a constitutional government, and thus laid the foundation for our independence as a nation. Kamehameha IV. and Queen Emma were the founders of the Queen’s Hospital. Kamehameha V. was a patriotic and able sovereign, and Lunalilo was the founder of the Home which bears his name. All these should be held in honored remembrance by the Hawaiian people.

Bernice Pauahi Bishop, by founding the Kamehameha Schools, intended to establish institutions which should be of lasting benefit to her country and also to honor the name Kamehameha: the most conspicuous name in Polynesian history: a name with which we associate ability, courage, patriotism and generosity. The founder of these schools was a true Hawaiian, who knew the advantages of education and well directed industry. Industrious and skillful herself, she respected those qualities in others. Her heart was heavy when she saw the rapid diminution of the Hawaiian people going on decade after decade. Her own race less than a century ago was estimated at 300,000 people or more, and she knew that these fair islands would not be left without people, coming from east and west. Her hope that there would come a turning point, when, through enlightenment, the adoption of regular habits and Christian ways of living, the natives would not only hold their own, but would increase again like the people of other races, at times grew faint and almost died out. She foresaw that in a few years the natives would not be much if any in the majority, so that in competition with other nationalities, without legal preferences for their protection, the privileges, success and comfort would depend upon their moral character, intelligence and industry. Therefore, in order to give her own people an opportunity of preparing for such powerful competition, she provided for these schools, in which Hawaiians have the preference and which she hoped they would value and take the advantages of as fully as possible. Could the found of these schools have looked into the future and realized the scenes before them that day, the speaker was sure it would have excited new hopes in her heart, as it did in his own.

If the Hawaiians availed themselves of the opportunities here presented to them, and were governed by the sound principles here daily inculcated, there was no reason why they would not from that time forth increase in numbers, self-reliance and influence. But if they are interaperate, wasteful of time, careless of health and indifferent as to character, and if they follow those evil examples, of which there are so many one every side, then, nothing can save them from a low position and loss of influence in their own native land, or perhaps from ultimate extinction as a race.

Mr. Bishop concluded: But let us be cheerful and hopeful for the best, and see to it that from these schools—as well as from the other good schools—shall go out young men fitted and determined to take and maintain a good standing in every honest industry or occupation in which they may engage. These schools are to be permanent, and to improve in methods as time goes on. They are intended for capable, industrious and well-behaved youth only; and if Hawaiian boys of such character fail to come in, other boys will certainly take their places. We look to those who may be trained in the Kamehameha Schools to honor the memory of the founder, and the name of the schools, by their good conduct not only while in school, but in their mature lives as well. So long as we are in the right, we may reasonably trust in God for his help. Let us try to be in the right.

Another hymn being sung y about twenty select voices—”Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem”—Mr. Oleson introduced Lieut. Crawford, of the U. S. S. Alert, as the second speaker, who related the success of the Manual Training School in Philadelphia. He had reason to believe that the same good fortune will be reaped by the projectors of the Kamehameha Schools. He clearly saw that all qualities necessary for the progress of the school are possessed by the native boys. They have natural tendencies for ornamental designs, and also excellent imaginative powers. He spoke at some length on the great necessity of such schools, dwelling on their importance as a medium for bringing up good, industrious citizens.

At the close of Lieut. Crawford’s remarks, the school sang, “Te Deum” from Creation with fine vocal effects. Mr. Oleson then gave notice that John H. Wise, the contractor of a miniature bridge, 18 inches long, 7½ inches wide, with planks ⅛ inch thickness, was to mount it. Mr. Wise weighs 180 pounds, yet the bridge had resistance for twenty pounds more. Some very fine specimens of work done by the boys were exhibited, noticeable among which were John Spencer’s and Waiamau’s exhibits. The specimens showed the great talent and skill possessed by the native boys.

Principal Oleson thanked those present for the interest shown in the institution by their presence, after which there was a general inspection of the industrial productions of the institution. Everyone seemed to be delighted with what they saw, numbers of the objects surprising the expectation of some of the visitors, who apparently little dreamed that the boys had in so short a time made such progress in manual skill. A pamphlet of twenty pages containing Principal Oleson’s essay on “Manual Training” before the Social Science Club, and printed at the Kamehameha School press, was distributed among the visitors. Cleanly and clearly executed, this little work of itself  attested the value of the training imparted in the institution.

(PCA, 12/20/1888, p. 3)

Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Volume VIII, Number 178, Page 3. December 20, 1888.

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