An estimated 500 Lāhaināluna High School students reported today to their temporary school site at Kūlanihākoʻi High for their first day of in-person instruction as a school.
Lāhaināluna students were welcomed by Kūlanihākoʻi students and staff cheering and waving signs at the drop-off area on campus. The day started with an opening protocol to honor the partnership between the two schools, and was followed by a rotating orientation for Lāhaināluna students. Students got their schedules, received a campus tour, met with their homeroom teachers, and were offered in-kind gifts of snack bags and backpacks filled with school supplies and hygiene items. Staff also assisted students with new ID cards and distributed school uniforms.
“I always want kids to feel wanted and welcomed, for parents to feel wanted and welcomed on campus. And our staff is fantastic at doing that. They were so excited these last three days, knowing they were going to get kids coming back to school, and I think they started out that way, and then just loving on their kids and making them feel that we, as Lāhaināluna, are back,” Lāhaināluna Principal Richard Carosso.
Lāhaināluna teachers and staff began reporting to Kūlanihākoʻi High on Sept. 11 to plan and prepare for welcoming students. Staff were able to get acclimated to the new campus, set up their classrooms, and also received training for student mental health support.
“I’m really looking forward to a great Lāhaināluna feeling even though we are in a different space,” Lāhaināluna math teacher Cornelio “CJ” Ancheta. “The energy that I felt today is indescribable — I wanted to hug everybody, I wanted to talk to everybody because I care for them, and I’m looking forward to a great learning experience [over] the next three weeks."
Free bus transportation services for Lāhaināluna students and staff were provided from Kapalua Airport and Whalers Village in West Maui and from War Memorial Gym in Wailuku. Due to increased student registrations for bus services, additional buses are being added to the route effective tomorrow, Sept. 15. To sign up for bus service, see bit.ly/WestMauiBusApp.
The school day ended with Lāhaināluna students uniting as one group to sing their alma mater, led by retired teacher “Aunty Lori,” who taught at Lāhaināluna for many decades. Students will begin their regular class schedules tomorrow.
“I think that it’s very important for students to be in physical learning because we have our classmates around and it’s just much easier when you have your friends, your classmates, and especially for what we went through, we can be together,” said Lāhaināluna junior class president RJ Arconado.
Carosso added that athletics and other extracurricular activities have resumed. “For a lot of our programs, especially extracurriculars – athletics and the band as well – being able to have a campus that is open for us means that those programs can continue,” he said.
A distance learning hub for K-8 Lāhainā students will begin welcoming students on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at Citizen Church in Lāhainā. The learning hub will provide distance learning students with in-person opportunities for teacher support and peer socialization, as well as access to meals, recess, social-emotional learning and other resources.
“We know there’s a really strong demand to have some kind of in-person opportunity on the west side and so we’ve been working around the clock to look for opportunities for students,” Rebecca Winkie, Hāna-Lāhaināluna-Lānaʻi-Molokaʻi Complex Area Superintendent said.
“We’re working on three different learning hubs — one is a distance learning hub, and it’s not a full-day experience but it at least gives them daily contact with an adult and some time to spend with her peers and for us to provide other services that are really important. We’re also looking at a Kaiapuni (Hawaiian language immersion) education hub … and we’re also looking to provide a hub for special education services.”
Families who need assistance can call the Department’s support hotline at (808) 727-6880 or text SUPPORT to (808) 736-1427, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.