A New Chapter Begins for Pacific Buddhist Academy
Achieving the milestone of a new classroom building for Pacific Buddhist Academy was a long time coming, but on Friday, September 8, 2017 Pacific Buddhist Academy (PBA) held their Dedication Service and Grand Opening! The Dedication Service began with the familiar sound of the kansho with the addition of the beautiful sound of a taiko drum. Many guests gathered for the dedication including leaders of the Hongwanji International Community from around the state, Japan and the mainland joining students and school supporters for the service. The altar in the new PBA facility is beautiful and a most remarkable accomplishment. Mr. Pieper Toyama explained some of the history behind the altar, which was partially funded by Rev. Numata of BDK. The central focus of the altar was designed to embrace elements identified by all Buddhists hence, a Dharma Wheel was used as a backdrop for the altar. Also on the altar, olive branches appear as the yoraku, traditionally made of gold. It is believed that this may be the only Buddhist altar in the world that features this western symbol of peace, one of the core teachings of PBA. The theme of the Dharma Wheel and olive branches are recreated on the speaker’s podium.
PBA’s student-centered curriculum is based on universal values like compassion, gratitude and interdependence. With a low student-teacher ratio, teachers build deep relationships with students, challenging them to think independently by going beyond textbook, lecture and classroom. PBA augments its superior academic training by integrating spiritual and ethical development through classes such as taiko and kendo. We view our students as equals and ask they work with us to forge an intentional community. We encourage students to use PBA as a foundation upon which they can chart pathways to peace.
Gratitude is central to Pacific Buddhist Academy's notion of peace practice. Founding Head of School Pieper Toyama often observed to students that "when you focus on the things for which you are truly grateful, you cannot help but feel happy." Student happiness is very important to PBA's learning program.
It has taken years of teamwork from trustees, parents, students, faculty, staff, temple leaders and members, and countless friends in Hawaii, Japan, and the mainland United States who have believed in the educational program since PBA was founded in 2003. PBA expressed their gratitude for His Eminence Monshu Kojun Ohtani, the 25th-generation descendant of Shinran Shonin and spiritual leader of the Hongwanji International Community, for ushering in a new era for PBA by officiating over the Dedication Service. Monshu Ohtani was joined by many guests from both sides of the Pacific.
Students and faculty will move into the new facilities in the next few weeks. College and Career Counselor Liane Viloria, Advancement Director Rüdiger Rückmann, Admissions Director Blanche Yarnell and Business Manager Patrick Ito will remain in the Annex Building, and PBA will continue to use existing classrooms and office space there.
To stay up-to-date on more information and photos, please check out the PBA website: https://www.pacificbuddhistacademy.org/
Photos courtesy of Honolulu Star-Advertiser