King Kekaulike celebrates 20th anniversary

King Kekaulike High School celebrated its 20th anniversary Thursday evening with a reception in the school’s gymnasium that included honoring 20 individuals and groups that have supported the public high school since its inception.

The honorees were “those individuals and/or organizations that helped to make our school a special place,” according to a 20th anniversary program. Those chosen to be honored “must have demonstrated a long-lasting impact, either through the number of years that they worked to help KKHS or by starting a program that has had significant impact on KKHS students.”

Individuals honored (in alphabetical order) were:

* Cindy Asato-Kochi, the school’s longest-serving service club adviser, guiding students through Key Club, which emphasizes community service.

* Pulama Collier, one of the pioneers in creating the school’s Hawaiian Language Immersion Program.

* Gundi Dancil, one of the high school’s first security guards, also known for being a longtime coach and supporter of the school’s soccer program.

* David Fukuda, a former economics teacher, Interact Club adviser and basketball coach as well as a founder of the King Kekaulike High School Scholarship, which is presented to an outstanding senior each year.

* Trisha Grimley, the school’s student activities coordinator who helped students create many of the school’s long-standing traditions.

* Emily Haines-Swatek, a Maui District Teacher of the Year and founder of King Kekaulike’s Environmental and Spatial Technology program.

* Duane Hamamura, a longtime King Kekaulike supporter who served on the school’s principal search committee and was president of the boys soccer booster club.

* Clark Hashimoto, founder of King Kekaulike’s longest-running fundraising event, the annual KKHS Baseball Tournament, which began in 1998.

* Carolyn Johnson, an English teacher, founder and inspiration for the King Kekaulike Dramatic Arts Company.

* June and Paul Kaneshiro, serving the school in different capacities – June as a part-time liaison between the school and parents and the community with newsletters and e-blasts; Pastor Paul as the school’s “go-to person” during some of the campus’s toughest times.

* Former state Rep. David Morihara, an early supporter of the school who was “instrumental” in garnering support at the state Legislature for the school’s construction and build-out.

* Jay Pa’a, a former football coach, teacher and class adviser credited with founding and serving as teacher and adviser to “Na Alii Vision,” a video production class and club that produced a weekly television program, “Na Alii 411.”

* Susan Scofield, called employee No. 1. She led faculty, staff and students from the school’s opening in 1995 until she retired in 2014. “She oversaw the development of new and innovative programs, recruited alumni back to the school as teachers and facilitated the creation of an alumni association. She has always been the face of the school when problems arose, but always in the shadows through its successes,” according to the anniversary program.

* Louis Silva, president and founding member of the King Kekaulike Arts, Academic and Athletics Club.

* Mary Weeks, social studies and advanced placement teacher who led King Kekaulike through its accreditation process in time for its first graduating class in 1999.

* Upcountry state Rep. Kyle Yamashita, who has been an advocate for the school at the Legislature and was credited with securing funding for the school’s performing arts center, for campus repairs and an alarm and surveillance system.

Groups honored were:

* Pukalani Superette, one of the school’s “strongest supporters and partners.”

* The 1995 original faculty and staff members, called the “backbone” and the “pioneers” of the school in its early days.

* Founding Parent Teachers Student Association officers Teena Rasmussen, president; Terry Lock, vice president; Jan Sakuma, secretary; Mel Ito, treasurer; John Ruhland, program chairman; Dale Ho, membership chairman; and Ruby Yip, public relations chairwoman.

* KKHS Alumni Teachers and Alumni Association founders who graduated from the school and returned as teachers.

The school also inducted three student-athletes into a newly established Athletic Hall of Fame. They included: Leahi Hall, class of 2001; Daniel Scott, class of 2003; and Bailey Massenburg, class of 2009. Those inducted into the Athletic Wall of Honor were Derrick Montalvo, Kurtis Saiki and Dennis Dias.

In sharing memories about the school’s earliest days, Scofield said she was housed at Kalama Intermediate School in Makawao while the new high school was under construction and consulted with 8th-graders about the school’s name, mascot and school colors. “After much discussion, the students chose black and teal and ‘Na Ali’i’ as (the school’s) colors and nickname.”

The school’s doors opened in August 1995. In the school’s early years, there was a “no slippers” rule to prevent student injuries while construction was ongoing at the campus.

Scofield remembered that when TV broadcaster Robert Kekaula visited the school for its opening, he commented on the “no slippers” rule “and threw his head back and sighed like he just couldn’t believe it!”

“I’m particularly proud of the wonderful teachers and staff who made a difference in our students’ lives and most proud of the students and alumni who are now making a difference in their own careers, families and neighborhoods,” she said.

Mark Elliott is the school’s current principal. He’s a former athletic coach and vice principal at the school.