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King Kamehameha III Elementary School to celebrate anniversary

By Staff | Sep 12, 2013

LAHAINA – King Kamehameha III Elementary School’s 100th Anniversary Committee discovered interesting facts about the oceanside school while researching its history.

Leslie Hiraga and DeAnn Kaina found that the school is actually much older.

Under Principal Henry Dickenson, in the 1880s, Lahaina’s government school was moved to King Kamehameha III School’s present site.

There were at first two buildings containing five rooms and five teachers. As attendance grew, new rooms were added.

The committee did find a centennial connection, though: the Front Street school opened with its new name honoring King Kamehameha III on Sept. 22, 1913.

“What we are really celebrating is the name change for the school,” noted Hiraga.

“We are celebrating with a Kick Off Assembly on September 23rd, closest to when the school was reopened with a new school building in 1913.”

Slated to start at 8:30 a.m., the assembly will feature chanting by students, hula, a blessing by Rev. Earl Kukahiko, an artistic rendition of the school’s alma mater by the choir led by teacher Joe Kent and a reading of the history of school.

“Joe Kent is our wonderful music teacher here, and he is working with his choir students to learn the chants,” explained Claire Tillman, the school’s Parent Community Networking Center facilitator.

“Aunty Lori Gomez-Karinen, who is the curriculum coordinator at Lahainaluna High School, is on our committee and will have LHS’ Hawaiiana Club perform hula. Old Lahaina Luau has been helping with planning of the assembly and will be assisting with the chants.”

A celebration is also scheduled for March 2014, “and then on May Day, scheduled for May 16, 2014, another big project will be unveiled,” Hiraga hinted.

Pat Akiyama, Principal Steve Franz, Sammy Kadotani, Lena Kanemitsu, Karen Pascual, Amy Kennett, Joy Takatsuka, Elsie Makekau, Paul Koyama, Brenda Wong and ShaRon Fredy also serve on the committee that issued a bold statement after researching the school’s history.

“Let anyone come forward and challenge this statement: ‘Organized/Westernized education in the Hawaiian Nation was born in Lahaina/West Maui,’ ” they wrote, furnishing the timeline below.

1824: Betsey Stockton opens the first school for commoners (adults) in the Kingdom at Lahaina in 1824.

1831: On Sept. 5, the high school above Lahaina opens, later named Lahainaluna by scholars; the missionary board renames it the Lahainaluna Seminary.

1832: Schools for Native Hawaiian children open.

1835: Maui Gov. Hoapili requires all children over four years old to be enrolled in school and demands literacy as a prerequisite for marriage.

1875: Henry Dickenson begins teaching in Lahaina. The government school was for many years held in Hale Aloha.

1880s: Lahaina’s government school moves in the late 1880s to King Kamehameha III School’s present grounds at 611 Front St. under Principal Dickenson. During the later years of his service, the buildings began to show their wear and age. The number of pupils increases, necessitating a new building.

1901: The Feb. 9 issue of The Maui News notes the Lahaina School has a roll of an average of 185 pupils.

1907: The Feb. 23 issue of The Maui News marks the death of Henry Dickenson at 61. He taught in Lahaina for 30 years and served for 26 years as principal. A tribute for him appears in the March 23 issue.

1912: The Sept. 23 issue of The Maui News reports that all the teachers who are to be employed in the districts of Maui and Molokai have been appointed. Twenty of the smallest schools are taught by just one teacher. The largest school, Lahaina, has ten teachers.

1913: On April 12, the House of Representatives, Territory of Hawaii, introduces House Bill 243, “An Act Making an Appropriation for the Construction of a statue in memory of King Kamehameha III, at Lahaina Maui.” The House Journal later states, “We feel a more fitting memorial at the present time would be for this Legislature to direct the Department of Education to name the new school, just being completed at Lahaina, Maui, at an expense of $30,000.00, the ‘Kamehameha III School’ in memory of his devotion to his people…”

1913: Legislature renames the Lahaina school “Kamehameha III School.” The new school building has 11 rooms with seats for 50 pupils in each room.

1913: The Sept. 27 issue of The Maui News, in its “Lahaina Lines,” notes “the autumn term of the Kamehameha III School opened on Monday, September 22.” There were 11 teachers and 369 scholars.