Opening set for Haleakala Waldorf

The Maui Planning Commission approved this week an amendment to a state special use permit to allow Haleakala Waldorf School to start a pilot, temporary high school at Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center in Makawao.

The amendment was needed because Hui No’eau operates on 11.64 acres of agricultural land. Hui No’eau, at 2841 Baldwin Ave., conducts arts appreciation and educational activities under a state Land Use Commission special use permit, originally granted in February 1990.

Hui No’eau hosts visual arts exhibits and offers small-group workshops and classes for developing skills in painting, drawing, jewelry design, printmaking, ceramics and other visual media.

According to a Planning Department staff report to the commission Tuesday, the pilot high school would be at Hui No’eau for two to three years, beginning Monday.

“It’s very exciting,” said Maka’ala Palmore, marketing-communications director for Haleakala Waldorf School. “It’s the realization of a vision that was initiated 15 years ago.”

It’s also the culmination of “planning and visioning” by “a lot of parents involved in trying to put this forward,” she said Thursday.

An opening ceremony will be held Monday, she added. The high school will be at its maximum capacity with 25 students in the 9th and 10th grades.

The school will have up to 50 students in its second year, and the cap of 50 students will remain at the temporary Hui No’eau location, according to the Planning Department staff report.

For many years, Hui No’eau has been a center for learning and creativity on Maui, “and it’s been a real blessing to partner with a like-minded organization like the Hui that is open to collaborating with us,” Palmore said.

The new Waldorf high school will provide an important niche for students, she said.

“It’s a wonderful alternative for our students on Maui,” she said.

While incorporating arts in an interdisciplinary approach is a prominent aspect of a Waldorf education, students also are encouraged to learn and engage in the process of inquiry, she said.

“It’s learning to be a learner,” she said.

Students are encouraged to ask questions and to synthesize meaning out of what they experience, Palmore said.

And, students are not necessarily discouraged from making mistakes, she said.

“Sometimes out of a mistake comes an interesting pathway that illuminates an entirely new way of thinking about the subject at hand,” she said.

Grades served by Waldorf’s program at Hui No’eau will be the 9th and 10th grades in the 2013-14 school year, adding 11th grade next year and 12th grade if the school continues at Hui No’eau for a third year. The school’s lease with Hui No’eau is set to expire June 1, 2016.

The temporary location will allow the school to start while a permanent site is sought, Palmore said.

If the school reaches a full enrollment of 50 students at the Hui No’eau site, then the program will require three full-time and six part-time staffers, the staff report says. Hui No’eau will allow Waldorf to use its classrooms, art studios and portions of its campus to conduct instruction.

Tuition for students is $14,500 annually, with financial aid available.

Waldorf and its students have exclusive use of an 872-square-foot workshop and storage area, which will be renovated. The building is the attached “garage” of the original maid’s cottage, referred to by Hui No’eau staff as the “Matsumoto Building” and by signs as the “Studio Cottage.”

The renovation would occur only in the attached garage area.

Students will be dropped off and picked up from Hui No’eau’s secondary entrance along Kaluanui Road.

Hui No’eau will make available a number of its classrooms for the school, including those set aside for jewelry, ceramics, printing and photography, said Caroline Killhour, Hui No’eau executive director. And Hui No’eau will not need to scale back its class offerings, most of which are offered at night or on weekends.

“We have enough classrooms to accommodate them,” she said Wednesday.

Hui No’eau will be doing a one-room addition to one of its buildings for the high school project, and it will be upgrading a storage area, she said.

Killhour said Hui No’eau’s partnership with the school will help Haleakala Waldorf get its high school program off the ground.

“It’s really nice to be part of that,” she said.

The arrangement with the school will result in more revenue for Hui No’eau, Killhour said, although she declined to disclose those details.

“It’s revenue that we need,” she said, noting that Hui No’eau, a historic property, is open seven days a week. “It’s expensive to run and keep up.”

The planning commission’s approval of Hui No’eau’s special permit amendment included 14 conditions, half of them standard and half specific to the high school proposal.

The project-specific conditions include a requirement that any new buildings at Hui No’eau be reviewed by the Urban Design Review Board and the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ State Historic Preservation Division to ensure that the site’s historic character is maintained.

Another condition is that any landscape alteration should use appropriate native, noninvasive plants to conserve water and to protect the area’s watershed from invasive species degradation.

The commission also wants bricks from an old chimney on the property to be incorporated in landscape features when it is torn down for safety reasons.

* Brian Perry can be reached at