One hundred years ago, Maui High School was just a small-framed building in Hamakuapoko, located near the large plantation camps of East Maui.
Students came to school by horseback, train, bus and foot on the dirt paths from the camps. Some students came from homes without electricity. Others used outhouses.
Today, Maui High sits on a sprawling campus in Kahului with close to 2,000 students from Kahului and Kihei, from where they arrive by bus and car. The school that moved down country to the new campus in the early 1970s and kept the name is the largest high school enrollment-wise in Maui County.
The Maui High School Marching Band practices Tuesday on the school’s Kahului campus. A centennial celebration that spans the old Maui High campus in Hamakuapoko and the current Kahului campus gets underway this week.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
The Maui High School administration building, designed by famed Hawaii architect C. W. Dickey, opened in 1921 at a cost of $66,000. It was placed on the Hawaii Register of Historic Places in June 2006. Photos of the Old Maui High School can be seen at oldmauihigh.org.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Computers have replaced typewriters.
Text messages have replaced love letters.
But some things remain constant. Alumni from both campuses hail their teachers as heroes and share in the school's glory in athletics and academics throughout the years.
Maui High School Centennial Events
Thursday: 10:30 a.m., Maui High School Kahului campus tour and optional $5 cafeteria lunch. For reservations, call Glenda Joyo, student activities coordinator, 727-4110.
Friday: 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., Old Maui High School campus in Hamakuapoko opens. Pickup of luau tickets (deadline to sign up has passed) and T-shirts. MHS Centennial Emporium store, history displays and archives, trophies and class displays are all open.
Saturday: 9 a.m.- 4 p.m., Old Maui High School campus. Pickup of luau tickets; Emporium and displays open including one of classic cars, photo booth. Program begins at 11 a.m. with luau at 11:15 a.m. with pre-purchased ticket only. Guest speakers, alumni Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, Class of '69, and Hawaii Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, Class of '89, will address the crowd at the 12:30 p.m. program, which includes musical performances and entertainment by alumni and current students and a pep rally and an old school fashion show. Entertainment ends at 2:30 p.m. Maui High varsity football game against Kamehameha Schools Maui, 7 p.m. in Pukalani.
Sunday: 9:30 a.m, campus opens, free continental breakfast. Emporium and displays open. 10 a.m., program begins; 10:30 a.m. dedication of centennial monument and plaque; 11 a.m. memorial service for alumni and faculty; noon, closing ceremony.
Oct. 3: Maui High in the Maui Fair Parade
Oct. 12: Second annual golf tournament at Kahili Golf Course, a fundraiser for MHS's athletic department and school foundation. Teams of four encouraged. Cost is $150 per person. For more information and to register, contact Alan Manibog at email@example.com or see the website at www.mauihigh.org and click on the MHS Centennial icon on the right.
Oct. 13: MHS Gala of the Century at Maui High School's Kahului campus, 3-7 p.m. Island food vendors; luau dinner; entertainment including Uluwehi Guerrero. Tickets are $35 for adults and $15 for children.
For information, call 873-3091 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mhsgala.com.
Oct. 16: Third annual Hall of Honor Awards Banquet at Maui Beach Hotel. MHS Hall of Honor recognizes individuals with ties to Maui High who have made outstanding contributions to the legacy of the school and the school community. Silent auction. Tickets are $60 per person. Seating is limited. Contact centennial chairpersons Mike Molina at 264-4859 or Bobbie Arita at 214-0593.
Oct. 18: 4:30 -8 p.m., fourth annual Saber Family Fun Night at MHS Kahului. Food; entertainment; games. 8:30 p.m. pep rally; crowning of homecoming king and queen.
Oct. 19: Homecoming football game, MHS vs. Kamehameha Schools Maui, 7 p.m., War Memorial Stadium. Wear blue. Alumni may participate in parade of classes. To participate call Joyo at 727-4110.
For more information see www.mauihigh.org and click on the MHS Centennial icon on the right.
"I tell you people don't know how important teachers are and the impact they have. Almost every person, if they look back, they had a teacher along the way that made a difference," said Class of 1966 alumnus Curtis Lee, who returned to coach the school's champion varsity football teams in Kahului.
Lee's mentors at Hamakuapoko included the late football coach Izumi "Shine" Matsui.
"He gave me the opportunity to go to college," Lee recalls. "He sent a lot of us to college."
Shane Okamoto, Class of 1998, praised his teachers at the Kahului campus.
"My best memories were the teachers. (They) had always encouraged me to go to college," he said.
Okamoto said that it was the co-curricular activities, such as yearbook and the school newspaper, that kept his interest, rather than the core subjects.
"That's what probably kept me liking to come to school," he said while admitting he was "kolohe" or mischievous and cut class.
While in class, Okamoto spent much of his time with Clint Gima, who still teaches at the school and advised the yearbook program back then, and the late Sarah Jones, who headed the school newspaper.
Okamoto is now the school's registrar. Eight students from his Class of 1998 also work at the school.
Beginning this week, Saber alumni from both campuses will get together to celebrate Maui High School's 100th birthday. There will be celebrations at the Hamakuapoko and Kahului campuses that will last through October.
"It's a birthday party," said Barbara Long, a former president and current director of the Friends of Old Maui High School that has worked to restore what's left of the Hamakuapoko campus. "My thing that I keep on saying: 'This is about the past, the present and the future.' ''
Long said the inspiration to restore the old campus, which was in shambles for many years after students left for Kahului, came when alumna and congresswoman Patsy Mink died in September 2002. Mink had been empowered by the school principal to push for a career in whatever she wanted, an unusual pathway at a time in the 1940s when men became lawyers and doctors and women became teachers and nurses.
Mink, a 1944 alumna, went on to champion equal opportunities for women in athletics and co-authored a bill to prohibit gender discrimination by federally funded institutions.
"So many people that graduated from Maui High had that same kind of feeling, 'we can do what we want to do.' . . . Because of that, Maui could have been a very different place if without Maui High," Long said.
Over the years, Maui High has turned out countless doctors, judges, businesspeople, entrepreneurs and political and government leaders. Current Mayor Alan Arakawa is a 1969 alumnus - and an honorary chairman of the centennial celebration - and Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui is part of the Class of 1989.
Though suffering through some lean years recently, the Maui High Sabers were a powerhouse Maui Interscholastic League football team under Lee's direction. The mighty Sabers won four Neighbor Island titles in the late 1980s and '90s.
While Lee is proud of his teams' accomplishments, he points out that Maui High students have brought recognition to the school nationally in automotive, science and musical competitions.
Retired automotive teacher Dennis Ishii - a classmate of Lee - and current instructors have taken automotive teams repeatedly to the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals and winning there. Retired science teacher Edwin Ginoza, who still volunteers his time, has led science teams to the national Science Bowl and Ocean Science Bowl.
The Maui High School band is a perennial winner at marching band competitions on Oahu.
According to the Friends of Old Maui High School website, Maui High was the island's first educational high school that provided an opportunity for students to further their education in academic and vocational fields. Students from all over the island attended Maui High, although the majority came from Upcountry. The school's first graduating class had five students.
In less than a decade after the school opened in September 1913, a Charles W. Dickey-designed building opened in 1921. Dickey, a noted Hawaii architect, designed a mission-style administration and classroom building. Over the years, many more classrooms were added, as well as teachers' cottages, a gymnasium, athletic fields and a cafeteria.
By 1939, enrollment reached 1,000 but began to steadily decline after Baldwin High School in Wailuku was built and plantation camps closed as families moved to "Dream City" subdivisions in Central Maui.
In 1972, a new Maui High School opened in Kahului - to the dismay of some students who found the new campus hot, dusty and barren compared to their cool, tree-filled campus Upcountry. Students from Kahului joined the Upcountry student population.
In 1995, King Kekaulike High School in Pukalani opened and the Upcountry students left Maui High. Later, Kihei students, who were attending Baldwin High, began to attend Maui High.
One of the students who attended the Kahului campus shortly after it opened is former Maui County Council Member Mike Molina, member of the Class of 1978 who serves as the centennial co-chair with Bobbie Arita, Class of 1967.
Molina remembers wearing his bell-bottomed pants and silk long-sleeve shirts to dances. Disco was in.
At that time, the boys would stand on one side of the cafeteria at dances and the girls on the other, with boys contemplating which girl to ask to dance.
Molina, who played the alto saxophone in the marching band, said his hangout was the band room where he and his friends would congregate between classes and recess. He had compliments for longtime former band teacher James Kidoguchi, who made the move from Hamakuapoko to Kahului with his students.
"He established an atmosphere that really brought us closer together," he said. "It established camaraderie."
Molina remembers taking a trip to Illinois with the band, the first trip to the Mainland for him, where they performed and bonded as a group.
Calvin Nemoto, formerly of Paia and a 1968 alumnus of Hamakuapoko, remembers the plays, physical education classes and events held in the old gym, otherwise known as "the barn."
"The barn was the center of life, not the old administration building," he recalled, saying that that was the place where students would congregate.
Nemoto, who described himself as a "pilau kid," said his civics teacher, the late Calvin Yamamoto, who later became principal of the school, took him under his wing and helped him run a successful campaign to become student body president.
From that time on, Nemoto said Yamamoto's nurturing helped opened doors for him. His experience in high school and contact with Yamamoto helped him get a legislative internship on Oahu, where he attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He would later win a seat as a council member in the 1970s.
Lee, too, remembers the old campus and called it a "great setting" with its country feel and close-knit population.
"Everybody knew everybody," Lee said of the 500 students on the campus.
But Lee, who served as a teacher, vice principal and athletic director at the Kahului campus, said his "heart" is with the new school.
"I love the old school and . . . what they are doing for the old school," said Lee "(But) I think the focus should be on the new school. That's where the kids are."
Nemoto, who heads the Maui High School Foundation, shares a similar sentiment, noting that Maui High has reached a milestone but with some disconnect between the two campuses.
"We are trying to unite both schools," he said.
Nevertheless, alumni from both old and new are proud of Maui High's accomplishments and say they are learning the history of the old campus and about the successes of the new campus.
"I think it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Molina said of the celebration. "I'm just really impressed with the accomplishments of the school."
"I'm very proud to be a member of the blue and white and all the school accomplishments and the people that came from Maui High," he said.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.