WAILUKU - Photographs, yearbooks, old school newspapers and a girl's gym uniform are among the artifacts collected by Friends of Old Maui High School for a new archive of the former school's history.
Publications of student writing on the meaning of democracy in their lives and athletic letters from both girls and boys sports teams provide some insight into the school that shaped a young Patsy Mink, who went on to serve in the U.S. Congress and author the American landmark legislation Title IX that mandates equality for women's athletics in federally funded schools.
"It was a microcosm of democratic ideals and responsibility," said the community organization's president, Barbara Long. "It produced graduates who just carried those ideals out into the future, and a lot of them, because of that, went into public service and shaped the future of Maui - and the nation."
The Maui News / AMANDA COWAN photo
Barbara Long of Friends of Old Maui High School browses through historical items from the school’s past Friday morning.
Maui High School was founded in 1913 in Hamakuapoko as the island's first coeducational high school. Enrollment peaked around 1939 with 1,000 students, but it began to decline as the area's plantation camps closed and Baldwin High School opened in Wailuku.
The campus was shut down in 1972 when the new, more centrally located Maui High School in Kahului opened.
Long said that the artifacts in her nonprofit group's collection would help preserve an important period in the Valley Isle's history. Friends of Old Maui High School is organizing efforts to restore historic buildings on the Hamakuapoko campus and to establish a new center for retreats and environmental education in Mink's honor.
"It's not just Patsy's legacy, it's the legacy of the school and the teachers and the students," she said.
Items like yearbooks and photographs have been donated by the families of graduates, and the group has received a few "treasure troves" of materials from the families of former teachers.
"Teacher archives - when they collect the work of their students - it's so valuable," she said.
And Long and her fellow volunteers are always on the lookout for items they can snap up at garage sales and thrift stores.
"People find stuff at yard sales; it's so weird," she said. "The best photo we have - an archival photo of the administration building - someone found at a yard sale."
Some of Long's favorite items are a collection of publications created as "supplements" to the school newspaper. They included the 1938 publication "I Live in a Democracy," which included photographs of students and writings about their vision to pursue a liberal education, explain democracy to parents who come from different cultures, and "live up to and preserve the precious heritage of that democratic principle."
"It's stuff you don't see now," Long said. "It's just so impressive to me, this whole attitude that was pervasive at the school."
But students at the Old Maui High School didn't just spend their days thinking about democratic ideals. Another newspaper supplement listed student hobbies, which included collecting matchbook covers, pressed flowers, taxidermy creating and beekeeping.
Other items in the group's collection include a full marching band uniform from the 1960s, a boy's Future Farmers of America jacket, teaching materials on atomic fallout survival, report cards and students' doctors' forms declaring them clear of diseases like tuberculosis and syphilis.
"We have original typewriters, and we even have the little caps that go over the keys so you could learn touch typing without seeing the letters," Long said.
The archive includes yearbooks from almost every class in the school's history, and a number of alumni have already visited the collection to view the yearbooks, she said.
But Long said the most valuable items in the collection are photographs of buildings that no longer exist on the campus, including the cafeteria, teacher cottages and the Future Farmers of America clubhouse with its distinctive stone fireplace.
The artifacts are being housed in a secured building on the old campus. The group hopes to move them to the former administration building when its planned restoration is complete, Long said.
Meanwhile, former Maui Historical Society Executive Director Roslyn Lightfoot is overseeing a group of volunteers as they sort, catalog and store all the materials that are being collected.
"We would welcome donations, even if people think it's worthless," Long said. "Please, please, please - don't toss it in the Dumpster."
For more information, call 579-9287 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Ilima Loomis can be reached at email@example.com.