Loving God. Loving Others. And Challenging Herself! - 2023 Founder's Award Recipient

The Founder’s Award is awarded to a graduating senior each year in honor of Dr. Wallace H. Sugimoto, the first Head of School of Hanalani. Exemplary seniors are nominated as candidates for the award and are selected because they have shown they fully embody the purpose of Hanalani. They are viewed as a wise person, well-rounded in academics and co-curriculars, are a growing Christian, and demonstrate care for others.
The 2023 Founder’s Award recipient, Ailsie Nakamura, fits the description perfectly! She was a valedictorian, President of the National Honor Society, a Royal Merit Scholar, Captain of the Girls’ Varsity Volleyball team, co-captain of the Math Team, and co-led the Upper School girls’ Bible study group. She won the Oahu Mathematics League’s highest award, the
Senior Merit Award, and was the state runner-up in the State of Hawaii’s 2023 Poetry Out Loud Competition.
When her name was announced during the commencement exercises as the 2023 recipient she felt blessed knowing that her hard work over the years had paid off and was being recognized. Finishing her senior year with so many achievements and accolades, you would not believe that Ailsie had a rough start as a freshman at Hanalani. Prior to 9th Grade, Ailsie had been homeschooled and found it hard to adjust to a completely different learning environment. She expressed that the social transition was the most challenging part; however, Hanalani helped ease her through the transition through the various groups that were available to her. One of the most impactful was the girls’ Bible study group.
“The older girls provided me with support and mentorship as sister figures. Being a part of this group helped me to adapt to a new school and made Hanalani feel like a second home”, explained Ailise. This is why she decided to co-lead the girl’s Bible study group her senior year. She wanted to provide the same support and mentorship that she received as a freshman.
Ailsie also credits co-curriculars with helping to shape her into a well-rounded student.

“Being a part of the varsity volleyball team helped me stay active, and I was able to grow my leadership skills when I became co-captain as a sophomore. I was also blessed to lead a group of students in creating an art piece that was featured on the local new and is permanently displayed onboard the USS Missouri. As president of the National Honor Society, I planned service projects that benefited my school and community. Most importantly, there was a class I took called Royal
Engineering and Design where I learned how to communicate effectively. I not only learned how to confidently present in front of school faculty and company executives but also practiced active listening and empathy through our improvement projects.”

Throughout her four years at Hanalani, Ailsie definitely put in the work necessary to be recognized as a Founder’s Award recipient. Her personal efforts and dedication, along with her experiences at Hanalani, helped her earn a full-ride scholarship to Corban University where she will be majoring in Elementary Education. We pray for her continued success and that she continues to love God, love others, and challenge herself in college and beyond.