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New Lahainaluna principal wants to strengthen the boarding program

By Staff | Oct 28, 2010

De Costa

LAHAINA — The search to find the replacement for Lahainaluna High School Principal Michael Nakano was culminated recently, as Emily De Costa took the headmaster’s position at the historic West Maui campus.

De Costa, who formerly spent 18 years at Lahainaluna as a counselor, registrar and vice principal from 1985 to 2003, officially moved into Nakano’s office and campus home last week to begin her tenure as the leader of the school.

Before returning to her former workplace and moving west from Kula, De Costa held the principal’s position at Makawao Elementary for seven years.

She moves into the Principal’s Office with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Chaminade University, a Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Northern Colorado and a Master’s Degree in School Administration from the University of Hawaii.

“I’m relearning the high school system and getting organized in what I need to do here as principal,” she said last week in her campus office that was filled with bouquets of flowers from well-wishers congratulating her in being named Nakano’s successor.

“I’ve had to adjust to this new situation of being on campus 24/7 with the boarder’s program here. It’s exciting to walk to work in the morning and see the kids. There is a warm ‘ohana feeling here — the same atmosphere that was here when I was here before.”

Principal De Costa is a firm believer that parental involvement is essential for educational success.

“I think that as long as the parents are involved — and statistics support this — the kids will have success in school. We are pushing to get the parents involved in their children’s education. We’ve got to stress the importance of education to the families,” she said.

Another focus for De Costa will be to strengthen the Boarding Department at Lahainaluna. She hopes to boost the program by expanding recruiting, searching for and creating new programs and/or revitalizing old ones such as the Agricultural Department.

“There used to be a waiting list to get into the Boarding Department at Lahainaluna, and I want to get back to that point,” De Costa said.

She is also concerned about the low math marks the school has garnered in recent years.

“We need to work collaboratively — students, teachers, parents, administrators — to find out what is wrong and determine a solution. I want to be visible and be able to see responsiveness from students and teachers. We need to start doing this,” she explained.

“I’d like to see more activities for the faculty, so that we can show our appreciation to them. I’d like to have some picnic tables put in on the lawn around the Principal’s Cottage, so all can enjoy that area. We need to look at the positives and move forward with them. Everybody is working hard with the positive concepts here, and I think we can all take part in moving it forward.”