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Luna stadium project to begin with donation of $3 million

By Staff | Dec 31, 2009

From left, Betty Sakamoto, Jeff Rogers, Sue Cooley and Roy Sakamoto are helping the Lahainaluna High School Foundation in its efforts to build a new stadium at the historic school.

LAHAINA – An angel of compassion has spread her wings to grace Lahainaluna High School with the start-up funds to begin work on the long-awaited stadium project called "Redo The Imu" on campus.

Since 1979, Sue Cooley and her late husband, Ed, spent a portion of the year at Kapalua.

In recent years, Sue has become so impressed with the endearing culture of Lahainaluna, the oldest public school in the U.S. west of the Rockies, that she bestowed the Lahainaluna High School Foundation with $3 million to begin the project that will bring a state-of-the-art athletic and special events facility to the West Side high school. The facility will also serve the needs of the elementary and intermediate schools and the community at large.

The "Redo The Imu" Project will establish an artificial turf field for football and soccer, a four-lane all-weather surface track, bleacher seating for 3,000, press box, concession stand, restrooms, meeting rooms and entry hall.

The project is estimated to cost $10 million to $11 million. Sue Cooley has donated $2 million thus far and has pledged another $1 million for spring 2010.

LHS Foundation Project Coordinator Jeff Rogers reported that bids are under review to begin the field and track portion of the project at an estimated $1.5 million. Work may begin in March 2010.

"We have also received word from The Westin Maui that they will provide lodging for field installation crew members that projects out to a $300,000 in-kind donation. Also, Hawaiian Dredging and KT&S Trucking have pledged their support for Phase I of the project."

Sue became involved with Lahainaluna through her relationship with Betty and Roy Sakamoto that began in 1980.

Roy, a 1960 graduate of Lahainaluna, and Betty, whose daughter is also a graduate of Lahainaluna, introduced Sue to the athletic field project.

"I have been touched by the enthusiasm of Roy and Betty regarding Lahainaluna," said Cooley last week in the office of Sakamoto Properties at Napili Plaza.

"Over the years, Ed and I visited the campus many times and introduced our many Mainland visitors to this unique and beautiful educational setting," she said.

"It has been inspiring for me to think of the boarders who have lived and attended Lahainaluna, and the excellent education available to them and to all of the youth of Lahaina. The boarders program is one of the many things that sets Lahainaluna apart from other Hawaii schools and is something that students, families, faculty, alumni and community will continue to be proud of."

The Sakamotos took Sue to the Lahainaluna vs. Radford Division II semi-final playoff football game at War Memorial Stadium last year. The impressive performance and sportsmanship exhibited by the Lunas further endeared her to the "Redo The Imu" cause.

"It was so inspiring to watch the smaller Lahainaluna team play so hard, so disciplined, against their bigger opponents," she commented.

"These teenagers are learning the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship. Athletics are an important part of the education process that will help the students with the day-to-day life process, as well as with their future lives as they move into college and later as contributing members of their community. As we were leaving the game, we heard the players singing the alma mater in the locker room, and it was just amazing to hear this uplifting spirit after a tough loss."

Sue and her late husband were raised and educated in Pennsylvania and both graduated from Swarthmore College.

"We come from a strong background that encourages the education of self in order to one day return back into the community to contribute. This has been a tenet of our lives," she said.

Sue has always believed that a strong community is the result of excellence in education – a value that she grew up with. She feels the project is an opportunity for the community to come together in support of our youth and our future.

A richness of academic and athletic experiences provides Lahainaluna students with personal excellence and pride in the community that has been very unique since 1831.

This generous contribution from Cooley should be viewed as a call to action by the community, the faithful alumni of Lahainaluna, part-time residents and visitors to step in and support this project. For more information on how you can contribute, call the LHS Foundation at 661-5332 or visit www.lahainalunahighschoolfoundation.com.