What happened to Annie Wright in Hawai’i?

What happened to Annie Wright in Hawaii?

Nina Doody

In January, eight Upper school girls went to Hawaii to attend the Next Generations Summit, which focused on women’s leadership. During their trip they visited places such as the North Kohala Sanctuary and the Kohala Institute, and engaged with local leaders in the area ranging from women in politics to small business owners and larger corporations. They also experienced an unexpected threat.

The last day they were in Hawaii a ballistic missile threat appeared on phones as a emergency notification saying to seek shelter emergency, and saying it was not a drill. Word spread quickly throughout the islands. The threat appeared to be real at the time, but it was later discovered that an employee set off the emergency notification in error.

Dean of students and chaperone Annie Green explained where the group was during the time of the threat. Four of the eight girls had gone down to the beach around 8:00 am to do a morning workout with Green. The remaining girls were relaxing at the hotel.

Green described the moment when she received the alert: “We were running on the beach and I was the only one with my phone on me, so I received the alert that said ‘BALLISTIC MISSILE LAUNCH TO HAWAII, SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY, THIS IS NOT A DRILL,’ and it was in all caps. In that moment I was just in awe and I looked up the beach at a man who was with his family and asked him, ‘did you get this message?’ and he just nodded very somberly, so I knew it wasn’t just my phone.”

“I was running on the beach with Emily, Annie, Tana, and Audrey when Annie got the alert on her phone and we went inside the hotel,” said junior Anna Haddad. “I did call my parents and text my close friends. I also didn’t know it was a missile threat until we had gotten back into the hotel.”

They quickly headed back to the hotel and gathered in Green’s room. They then began to prepare for worst case scenario. They flipped the mattress against the glass sliding doors in case they were to be shattered, and then they filled the bath tub with water in case of a water shortage; they also filled other water sources. After they felt like they had done their best to prepare, they all sat in a circle in the bathroom waiting. 

Green noted the range of the emotions that she observed from the students; some students were in real fear, some in tears, some calm, and some indifferent. Green found this range of emotions surprising but all within reason.

Seniors, juniors, and sophomores were all represented during the trip, which was headed by Green and Director of Business Development Rex Bates. There were multiple schools attending the summit, which was associated with University of Washington Tacoma’s Center for Women’s Leadership. Green noted that a lot of workshops focused on mindfulness and shared leadership experiences.

Green shared a special moment while they were huddled in the bathroom. “One student called us into our mindful work again and said ‘Let’s go around the room and share our intentions for this moment, and it was really powerful. We went around the circle one at a time and each shared our intentions for right now… I won’t ever forget that moment and I won’t ever forget it was a student who called us into that,” she said.

“I can say it was an unforgettable moment that has taken time to heal from,” said Haddad. “It made me realize how grateful I am for the people in my life, but it also made me reassess my values and what I want to do with my time.”

The threat lasted about 45 minutes before it confirmed that it was in fact a false alarm. The girls and chaperones were then able to fly home that night at their scheduled departure.

When sophomore Audrey Johnson was asked about her favorite moment in Hawaii, she said, “During dinners we would take time to reflect upon the day’s events. We all got to learn about how we all perceive things differently while encountering the same material.”

Next year Annie Wright hopes to attend the Summit again, and it is looking positive for this program to happen again; however discussions are still in the works.