Queen Liliuokalani Elementary holds last day of school

Teachers pack up on the last day of school.
Teachers pack up on the last day of school.
Queen Liliuokalani Elementary School
Queen Liliuokalani Elementary School
Gwen Barcarse
Gwen Barcarse

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

KAIMUKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Inside her second-floor classroom Pualani Wilmington packs books and papers into cardboard boxes and tries to keep her emotions in check.

"It's sad, you know, I've been here for so long," she said.

Eighteen years of her life as a first-, second- then fourth-grade teacher at Queen Liluokalani Elementary ended Thursday

"It's just like a family feeling here at this school. It's always been that way," she said.

Gwen Barcarse is another veteran of eighteen years at the Kaimuki campus. She watched her children and now her grandchildren go through this school.

"He's my fifth generation in this school. So he will be the last," she said.

In March, the Board of Education voted to close the school because of low attendance -- just 97 students this year -- and low performance compared with the other schools in the district.

The state Department of Education said it will save $500,000 a year.

"If that's what the DOE thinks is going to save us money in these budgetary times, I guess that's the way to go. But for us, personally, we hate to see it go," parent Roy Hardy said.

The school held an assembly to celebrate the last day of the school calendar. Teachers said they have been prepping students for next year when they'll be transferred to other schools in the area.

"They're sad, too. Some of them have been here since kindergarten, pre-K in fact," Wilmington said.

Next year she will be teaching at another school. But her heart will hold memories of Queen Liliuokalani school that she will never pack away.