He was known as Barry Obama, and with his dark complexion and mini-Afro, he was one of the few blacks at the privileged Hawaiian school overlooking the Pacific.
Yet that hardly made him stand out.
Diversity was the norm at the Punahou School, one of the state's top private schools. The 3,600 students came from a wide variety of backgrounds, with a blend of Polynesian, Asian, European and other cultures. Everybody in Hawaii is a minority.
At Punahou, Barack Obama was known primarily for his appealing personality, his honesty and his aggressive play on the basketball court, reports AP.
"It was a good melting pot. There were people from all different races," said Eric Smith, a friend and classmate of Obama's in the 1970s. "Everyone seemed to meld together."
The Democratic senator from Illinois who is seeking the presidency of the United States was born in Honolulu 45 years ago and lived in one the country's most diverse metropolitan areas for the better part of 18 years.