homepage logo

Alumni and volunteers restore the ‘L’ above Lahainaluna High School

By BY WALTER CHIHARA - | May 14, 2021

Class of 2021 Boarders (from left) Nyla Valdez, Loki Smith, Brian Amby and Likeke Ho‘opi‘i participated in the work day.

LAHAINA — Through the rainbow mists or brilliant sun-drenched mountain slope panoramas of the West Maui Mountains, the “L” above the Lahainaluna High School campus serves as a beacon of light and integrity that illuminates the West Side community.

Moving toward 200 years, Lahainaluna stands as the oldest public school west of the Rocky Mountains and, moreover, a central representation of the spiritual affection of the community served.

The “L” carved into Pu’u Pa’u Pa’u — the Hill of Struggle — pays homage to David Malo, who is buried there.

Malo was among the first to matriculate and graduate from Lahainaluna Seminary. He went on to become an entrepreneur, a teacher, superintendent of schools, a preacher and an advisor to King Kamehameha III, with whom he co-wrote “The Great Mahele” that empowered commoners to own land here in the islands.

In honoring David Malo, it is learned that he exemplified the concept of “give then receive.” In keeping with tradition and the legacy of Lahainaluna, some 50 administrators, faculty, students, friends and former boarders made the uphill trek up to Pu’u Pa’u Pa’u on May 1 to pay homage to Malo and to restore the “L” etched in the mountainside.

The “L” was created in 1929, when a group of boarders decided to climb Pu’u Pa’u Pa’u and carve it onto the face of the mountain.

Today, the “L” stands as a sentinel, a beacon and a light that shines the way.

In 1899, the Lahainaluna Alma Mater was written by boarding student Albert Kaleikini. “Not even the strongest winds of Kauaula can extinguish the torch of learning,” he wrote, and the passages were set to music by Samuel Mo’okini, a music teacher at Lahainaluna from 1906 to 1922.

It was a time for staff, students and former boarders to reconnect, to bond and to connect as an ‘ohana.

The tradition continues — the torch lights the way.

(Mahalo to Lori Gomez-Karinen and Ilima Greig-Hong for their contributions to this article).