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Fight for the LHS Boarding Department

By Staff | Apr 8, 2010

Lahainaluna High School supporters held rallies in front of Lahaina Cannery Mall and Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center on Saturday morning to urge the Hawaii Legislature to continue funding the 174-year-old LHS Boarding Department. Photo by Tiara Dolores of the Lahainaluna Class of 2005.

More than 100 people lined Honoapiilani Highway at Lahaina Cannery Mall Saturday morning to send the Hawaii Legislature a message: fund the Lahainaluna High School Boarding Department.

West Maui Sen. Roz Baker, Rep. Angus McKelvey and Maui Board of Education member Mary Cochran need your help. If the legislature doesn’t appropriate around $600,000 for the boarding program this month, this 174-year tradition may die.

McKelvey explained that the House is the funding body at the legislature, so the fact that the Senate Ways and Means Committee failed to fund the boarding program last week isn’t devastating.

Last Monday’s Ways and Means hearing illustrated that Oahu lawmakers don’t know anything about the Boarding Department, so it’s up to the Lahainaluna High School community to teach them through a flood of calls and e-mails.

Do they know that boarders maintain the large, hilly campus for free? How much would the state Department of Education have to pay to tackle this work? How much will it cost if the DOE botches the work and a student is injured?

Are they aware of the character-building impact of the program on young people from around Hawaii and Pacific nations?

Howard Hanzawa of Kaanapali Land Management Corp. told senators that living at Lahainaluna, handling chores and learning hard work and discipline under no-nonsense mentors “has made a tremendous difference in the lives of the thousands of children who have been in the program.”

Do they realize the LHS program is a cherished facet of the oldest public school west of the Rocky Mountains and the last boarding program in the public school system?

Now is the time to speak up. To ensure that the inept DOE can’t hijack the money, the Lahainaluna Boarding Department should have its own line item in the budget.

Boarders should also link up with the Lahainaluna Boarders Association at its potluck at Lahaina Hongwanji Mission on April 16 at 6 p.m. All past boarders and community members concerned about perpetuating the Boarding Department tradition are urged to attend. For information, call Richard “Noosh” Nishihara at 870-6478 or Bobby Kawaguchi at 281-1462.

Lahainaluna students and boarders — past, present and future — need to join this fight. It’s time to save the Boarding Department and make it better.