A Beacon of Academic Excellence

Jonathan Lee (’17) is the type of alumni schools hope to call their own. He attended Hanalani Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, graduating as valedictorian with a 4.53 GPA. His achievements as a Hanalani student are exceptional: accomplished violin and piano player, Royal Merit Scholar, AP Scholar, National Honor Society President, Scholar Athlete of the Year, and Varsity Volleyball Team Captain, to mention just a few.
 However, it should be noted that Jonathan took advantage of opportunities at Hanalani not to bolster his college application, but to truly contribute to his community and serve his fellow man. A recipient of one of 10 National Honor Society Outstanding Service Project awards given internationally, Jonathan and his team collected $12,000 worth of donated goods to send to the Philippines. He says his values and hard work ethic were inspired by his teachers and encouraged by the school’s Christian foundation.
“By striving to always do my best whether I’m playing music, in the classroom, or on the court, I feel that I am honoring God for all of His blessings,” says Jonathan. “Everything I have accomplished at Hanalani is because of Him. Even if you might not have what the world defines as ‘success’, you’ll be doing what God wants and that is the most important thing.”
Lessons Beyond Textbooks
While at Hanalani, he appreciated the relevance his teachers like Mr. Jon Stoker in Advanced Placement Economics brought to the subject. “Mr. Stoker was invested in the topic and presented current situations as a way to discuss how economic theories applied to our everyday lives,” says Jonathan.
Jonathan counts his Online Honors British Literature class as another example of how Hanalani teachers made faith relevant and practical to modern life. A reading of William Golding’s “The Lord of the Flies” allowed teacher Mrs. Joanna Baniaga to discuss how disorganized and degenerate a group can become the farther they walk away from God.
The Difference in the Road Less Traveled
Despite receiving acceptance letters from prestigious schools such as the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, Colby College, and University of Southern California, Jonathan made the decision to double major in economics and philosophy at Westmont College, a Christian college in Santa Barbara, California.
National rankings and reports are good indicators of a school’s performance, but choosing the best fit requires deeper reflection and sometimes, as in Jonathan’s case, prayer. “I didn’t feel right about these other colleges,” says Jonathan. “I felt like God was telling me to go to Westmont.”
So far as a freshman, Jonathan continues to conquer one ambitious goal after another. He is now playing with his upperclassmen in Westmont’s top orchestra and will perform in Europe in the summer. Much like at Hanalani, Jonathan looks forward to making a positive difference as a member of Westmont’s student government.
Onto the Next Chapter
Inspired by 1 Peter 3:15 (New King James Version), Jonathan shares his faith with gentleness and respect. “Our daily Christian walk should be one of joy as it is seen by other people. I’m excited and really looking forward to this next season in my life,” says Jonathan.
Whatever path he takes in life, Jonathan knows that walking in God’s light is always the right choice.