BYU–Hawaii Celebrates 60th Anniversary

Contributed By Reed Segura, BYU–Hawaii Church News contributor

  • 6 March 2015

Students attending BYU–Hawaii participate in the annual flag-raising ceremony as part of Spirit Week. The flag raising follows the tradition that David O. McKay established when he presided over a flag-raising ceremony in Laie that took place on February 7, 1921. During this year's ceremony, students raised their nation’s flags at the campus’s flag circle while wearing their cultural attire.  Photo courtesy of BYU–Hawaii.

Article Highlights

  • BYU–Hawaii celebrated its 60th anniversary this February.
  • As part of the commemoration, during Spirit Week students at BYU–Hawaii celebrated with their traditional flag-raising event by raising their nation’s flags.

“This school helped me become who I am today. I can reflect on what I have been through, to participate and represent my country. BYU–Hawaii helped me accomplish my dreams, and I know I have a lot more to do in life after I leave here.” —Maklen Kapulu, political science major at BYU–Hawaii 

LAIE, HAWAII

February 2015 marks the 60th anniversary of Brigham Young University–Hawaii. Part of the celebration took place during Spirit Week 2015, held February 6–12. Kicking off Spirit Week was the third annual flag-raising event, during which current and former BYU–Hawaii students get the chance to raise their nation’s flags at the university’s iconic flag circle.

The event is reminiscent of the ceremony that took place on February 7, 1921, when David O. McKay, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, participated in a flag raising near the recently completed Laie Hawaii Temple. (This ceremony is depicted in the mural on the front of one of the school's main buildings.) It was at this flag-raising event that Elder McKay envisioned an institution of higher education located in Hawaii that eventually became the Church College of Hawaii and later Brigham Young University–Hawaii in 1974.

On Saturday, February 7, hundreds gathered at the flag circle at the front of the Laie campus, many dressed in the traditional cultural attire of their heritage. The short formal program included speakers representing the Native America, Japan, Samoa, and Korea student associations at BYU–Hawaii, in addition to remarks by student body president Marc Gardner and university president Steven C. Wheelwright.

Current and former BYU–Hawaii students, joined by members of their families, participate in the annual flag-raising ceremony as part of Spirit Week. Photo courtesy of BYU–Hawaii.

A traditional Maori greeting is exchanged under a New Zealand flag during the annual flag-raising ceremony at BYU–Hawaii as part of Spirit Week. The flag raising follows the tradition that David O. McKay established when he presided over a flag-raising ceremony in Laie that took place on February 7, 1921. During this year's ceremony, students raised their nation’s flags at the campus’s flag circle while wearing their cultural attire. Photo courtesy of BYU–Hawaii.

Following the remarks, the groups who would raise the flags gathered and stood shoulder to shoulder, holding their nations’ flags, and listened to the original audio from President David O. McKay’s February 1955 speech at the groundbreaking for the campus, in which he delivered the historic statement that has framed the vision of BYU–Hawaii for 60 years. He said, “From this school, I’ll tell you, will go men and women whose influence will be felt for good towards the establishment of peace internationally.”

After listening to the recording of President McKay’s talk, the group of flag raisers went to their respective poles and, at the signal of conch shells, raised their flags simultaneously.

“It means a lot to me to see the Vanuatu flag flying at BYU–Hawaii and for me to represent my country here,” said Maklen Kapulu, a political science major from Vanuatu. “This school helped me become who I am today. I can reflect on what I have been through, to participate and represent my country. BYU–Hawaii helped me accomplish my dreams, and I know I have a lot more to do in life after I leave here.”

Kanokon Tansakul, a hotel and tourism management major from Thailand, commented on her experience that day and the spirit that she felt. “We were listening to the talk by David O. McKay about the school’s vision, and we are fulfilling that vision. I get to represent Thailand here at the Lord’s university, and this opportunity touches my heart because I know there are not many Thai people here at BYU–Hawaii. I hope that future generations of Thai students will be able to gather here to study and learn to become the leaders President McKay talked about.”