When a School is More Than Just a School

Lahainaluna — a high school like no other.

If you’ve been to Lahaina, there is no way you can miss the huge “L” on the side of Mount Ball. How can one high school mean so much to a community? I didn’t attend Lahainaluna and neither did my husband as we arrived on Maui in 1990. However, my son graduated in 2013, and my daughter graduates in 2018, and this is what I’ve experienced.

The summer prior to my son entering his freshmen year, we were on Oah’u walking through the Ala Moana shopping center. He was wearing his “Future Alumni of Lahainaluna” t-shirt. As we walked through the mall, dozens of men and women would smile and yell out, “1962,” “1984,” “1971” …these were alumni calling out their year of graduation from Lahainaluna. He received lots of pats on the back, hugs, and wishes for a great school year from perfect strangers with a common love for a public high school… on a different island.

The Kaiser brick in the stadium entrance of Lahainaluna

This pride goes far beyond it being the oldest school West of the Rockies, having been established in 1831. If my calculations work out, my oldest grandson will graduate in 2031, how awesome will that be? And on the 200th year! The pride goes beyond it being the site of Hawaii’s first printing press, which is still on campus. Those that have and do walk the hills of this campus have an indefinable love for this school and what it represents. There are even students that board on campus from all areas on Maui, different islands of Hawaii and even from the Mainland, ensuring that multiple generations of a family graduate from this place. They make the pilgrimage up Mt. Ball to clean and lime the L and David Malo’s gravesite in anticipation of graduation every year, which then is “lit” with flares by alumni at the end of the ceremony.

“O keia ke kukui pio ole I ka makani o Kauaula.” This is the torch that the winds of Kauaula cannot extinguish.

If you really want to experience a “chicken skin” moment, listen to any student group singing the alma mater, the ONLY school with a Hawaiian language one written by Albert Kaleikini and arranged by Samuel Mookini. I have witnessed in person, all activities ceasing when it plays in public for all those that know the words to sing and interlock arms in unison for Lahainaluna. If you are really lucky, you’ll be a witness to graduating students singing in beautiful harmony as the “L” goes bright behind them.

Lahainaluna Sports Field

Boasting stunning views of Lahaina town and the Pacific Ocean and a remarkable sports field, provided in large part by a single donor, Sue Cooley who never attended the school nor did anyone in her family. The campus is impressive, this is the kind of impact this place can have. This is the kind of impact a town and its people can have. Want to know more about Lahainaluna? Let me know! If you are thinking of buying or selling a home in Lahaina, I would be honored to be considered as your agent. This is the town I proudly call my home and proudly support past, current, and future graduates.

I mua Lunas!

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