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State needs to grasp importance of the LHS Boarding Department

By Staff | Apr 2, 2015

In another disconnect that illustrates the shortcomings of the bureaucracy that is Hawaii’s centralized Department of Education – the only such public school governing system in the nation – our state legislators in recent budget sessions questioned the “educational relevance” of the Lahainaluna High School Boarding Department.

I ask that these decision-makers scroll back 180 years and consider the relevance of the societal contributions of David Malo, one of Lahainaluna’s first graduates. Malo was raised within Native Hawaiian royalty and complemented this background with his studies in Christianity and basic academia at Lahainaluna to become one of Hawaii’s foremost patriots, a religious minister, political leader, business entrepreneur, educational administrator and author. He compiled the “Hawaiian Antiquities,” one of the first books ever published that set forth the ancient history, religion and customs of the Hawaiian people as lived through the perspectives of a native author.

Now click forward to the present and see the educational significance of the Lahainaluna boarding program in the life of Hana girl Kazia Lecker. A four-year boarder, dorm officer, wrestling team captain, Maui Interscholastic League champion and state bronze medalist for the Lunas from the isolated, rural community on the southeast corner of Maui, Lecker will graduate next month from Grand Canyon University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing to become the first of her family to reach such educational heights.

She will marry her high school sweetheart in September and plans to return to Hana someday with a family of her own to serve and improve her home community in the medical center there.

Through the work/study program, thousands of Lahainaluna boarders, from the days of David Malo to the contemporaries of Kazia Lecker, today toil before and after school in campus maintenance responsibilities (and in past times worked in farming and livestock to supplement Lahainaluna’s coffers).

In between, they attend classes, participate in athletics, complete homework and work some more in dormitory cleanup projects. It wasn’t, and still is not, a cushy life of ABCs and 123s, as some misguided bureaucrats in Honolulu have mistaken the program to be – as if it was a soft version of college dorm life. It is much, much more.

Self-discipline, self-sacrifice, respect for authority, self-reliance and work ethic are but a few of the life skills beyond standard education that Lahainaluna boarders learn.

It is a priceless nurturing of the tender teenage spirit – a training ground in preparation for the reality of life.

Lecker said, “We all learned motivation as boarders at Lahainaluna, and the experience made us stronger and independent. We gained strength to work through hard times and vision to see and work toward a better life.”

There is no more relevant educational program in the public school system in Hawaii than the Lahainaluna Boarding Department. We must all make it our responsibility to keep it going.

Call your legislators, call the school (808-661-4000) and support community fundraisers for the program. All voices will be effective; all support will be positive action that will lead to a better world for all of us.