Old School Spirit

More than three decades after being abandoned to the elements, vandals and arson, Maui’s first public high school is kindling a passion for renewal.

Yet deep within the souls of many Island leaders were values they had received from their missionary ancestors, whose earliest efforts in Hawai‘i had included creating schools for the native population. And Hawai‘i was a U.S. territory, perhaps someday to become a state. If this were to be an American community, a free education should be open to all.

From the beginning, it was a case of “build it and they will come.” The Kahului Railroad added a train route especially for Maui High students that started in Wailuku and picked up passengers from towns and plantation camps along the way. The train dropped off Central Maui students at Hamakuapoko and then continued east to collect those in the villages at Ha‘iku, Pauwela and Kuiaha. Others arrived by buggy or on horseback or walked barefoot from the closest plantation camps.
Soon the first seven-room wooden structure was crowded with students. In the beginning, probably none of them, whether the children of fieldworkers or of plantation owners, had much of an idea what high school was supposed to be like. Yet within a few years, a typical American high school had sprung into existence in the midst of the cane fields, complete with student government, athletic teams, pep rallies, a yearbook and a school song.
The credit for this must go to the teachers and their principals, well-trained, progressive educators recruited from the Mainland, who initially taught a curriculum that included Latin, French, English, history, business and domestic science. These educators continued to set high academic standards as the curriculum expanded, exposing youngsters to Shakespeare and algebra, teaching them to write poems and to type a perfect business letter. They helped children who had entered school speaking only pidgin or Japanese to communicate in perfect English. And, cognizant of the community’s primary industry, they trained young farmers in a first-rate agricultural program.
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 Wednesday, January 09, 2008 | by Carol Mangels
What a wonderful article about a terrific school. Sometime during the years 1957-1959, my dad, Robert (Bob) Moran (now 86 years old), was a substitute teacher at Maui High. He was the minister of the Church of the Nazarine in Kahului, and did substitute teaching on the side.