Punahou Teachers Remember Obama as a Standout

Pal Eldredge
Pal Eldredge
Eric Kusunoki
Eric Kusunoki

HONOLULU (KHNL) - On Saturday, Punahou graduate Barack Obama Saturday made it official: "I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the United States!"

Close to 20-thousand Barack Obama supporters braved the bitter cold in Springfield, Illinois to hear him say what most had already known for months. The 45-year old Hawaii born Obama touched briefly on the core issues of his campaign and called the war in Iraq a "tragic mistake."

Among those cheering the new presidential candidate were former Punahou schoolmates and teachers of Obama, who took some time to look back at the past, long before Barack Obama began his political career.

He grew up here in the islands, spending eight years at Punahou.

And making a big impression even back then.

"He was always a nice guy, every body liked him and he liked everybody, I knew he's do well, he's smart, I knew he'd do well" Punahou teacher Pal Eldredge remembers.

And while Barack may not have had political aspirations in the 70s, his teachers may have helped plant the seeds that anything is possible.

Obama's homeroom teacher Eric Kusunoki explains "I had a teacher who would say one of these days one of you may be president, when I started teaching I used to tell my students that too and now look here you are, maybe."

Obama, as a Punahou student took part in a number of extracurricular activities, from the school's literary magazine to sports like basketball.

"He was a great teammate, always there for the other guys, loved basketball" said team mate Dan Hale.

Barack was a part of the 79 championship team, but it wasn't just his left-handed double pump shot teammates remember.

Team mate Allan Lum adds "he had inner courage, where he would challenge guys in the way for the betterment of the team."

And already his announcement is having a positive impact on Punahou students, Obama has never even met.

"Just him running, gives our kids an opportunity to think, I could be president."

Obama graduated from Punahou in 1979.  He last made a stop at his old school two years ago.