Sacred Hearts School announces new principal
LAHAINA – Sacred Hearts School is excited to announce Tonata Lolesio as its new leader. After interviewing candidates from the Mainland, the Principal Search Committee decided to take a different approach and recruit from within the school.
“I knew it was her all along,” shared current Principal Miguel Solis. “She has been a valued leader for the Parish Religious Education Program, knows the parish life well and can bridge, ever more strongly, parish and school communities.”
Word travels fast on Maui! After Sister Rovy of Maria Lanakila Church posted the news on Facebook, Lolesio was overwhelmed with over a hundred parishioners reaching out to her with excitement. An additional outpour of congratulations came from all over the island, including fellow Lahainaluna High School alumni classmates of 1994.
“I am grateful to serve. It is a motherly feeling, and quite honestly, I have always felt that my path would eventually lead me here at some point in my life,” she explained.
Lolesio’s continuing legacy with Maria Lanakila Church began when she was just five years old. Her parents decided they wanted to provide a better education and more opportunities for Tonata and her brother, Tuifua, so they migrated from Tonga in 1982.
The decision did not disappoint. Both Tonata and her brother took their education seriously, and both wanted to make their parents proud. Tonata earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature and a Minor in Speech from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education.
Tuifua earned his degree in business in Boston, and he is now a business professional in Australia with a family of his own. Tonata also has two younger sisters, Matisela and Milika, who were born in Hawaii.
Their first ‘ohana here on Maui back in 1982 was Maria Lanakila Church, and she and her family remain a strong part of the parish and school. Her son, Ben, graduated from Sacred Hearts and is now a sophomore at Lahainaluna High School.
Even husband Howard is the meticulous groundskeeper! He and partner Ofa keep the grounds looking beautiful.
Tonata has led the Religious Education Program for over six years now, always with an enrollment of 50 or more students per year, which has impacted the lives of hundreds of children positively. She helps prepare them for their sacraments, in addition to her full-time job as a teacher.
She has been the second grade teacher at Sacred Hearts School for 18 years now.
“That classroom is like my home. It is going to be bittersweet for me when it is time to take my things out for the new teacher. It has been a special place for me for so many years! I am ready, though, to move into my new office and take on my new responsibilities. It is more than a job for me. It is a calling,” Tonata said.
Her focus for the 2020-21 school year is to re-evaluate school events and fundraising efforts, strengthen and continue the House System, and give opportunities for school involvement for House points.
She also plans to work with the new Leadership Team with internal workings and to create scholarship and financial aid opportunities for families of the Parish Religious Education Program.
Additionally, she will work with teachers on strengthening and growing an effective continued Distance Learning Program.
She is already in transition meetings with current principal and friend, Dr. Solis, who has accepted the role of head of school at Maui Preparatory Academy.
He commented, “In the time I’ve known Mrs. Lolesio, not only did we become professional colleagues, but more so friends that have worked side-by-side on helping Sacred Hearts. A great decision for the school, and I am in full support of her and what she will bring.”
Tonata concluded by saying, “Social distancing and living through this experience is a trauma that we will all have to heal from, with time. I am most excited that when we return to school, the children will be comforted with a familiar face. I am happy that they will see me.”
For more information on Sacred Hearts School, visit shsmaui.org or e-mail Enrollment Director Yvette Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org.