Damien Memorial goes coed - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Damien Memorial goes coed

KALIHI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

It was an historic day for Damien Memorial School, the private catholic school is no longer just for boys.

It was a warm welcome for Damien Memorials' newest students for summer school, among them 64 girls the first to attend the once all boys school.

"I'm excited because I get to start my journey here at Damien and it's an honor to be here," said Rhiannon Palmere who was the first female student to arrive.  

Raeann Hernandez is anxious to follow in her brother's footsteps.

"He told me early this year, they might have girls. And I said, are you serious. And I was just excited, because I said, I can go to Damien."

"My son has gotten so much out of Damien and I never would have thought that my daughter would be graduating Alumni with her brother and so I'm really looking forward to a new adventure, new chapter in Damien," said Pamela Hernandez, Raeann's Mom.

Economics and school survival played a role in the controversial change that officially ended the school's near 50 year tradition.

At first we were conservatively saying, if we got 25 girls, that would be great. We got 40 we'd have a shot at it. Now we're just about at 65 and you know we're not done yet," said Damien Memorial School President, Bernard Ho.

There's new uniforms, new social dynamics and new competition.

"They've always been competitive with just themselves, but now females academically, or even in terms of sports, then now, setting another standard or bar, to see who's like, the fittest, said Neil Nitta a teacher at Damien.

"It's going to be pretty interesting to see, by the time they're seniors, who's going to be valedictorian, a girl or a boy," said student Jayce Ikehara.

In order to accommodate the larger female enrollment, the school has already made some improvements to the restroom facilities. In the coming years there are plans for brand new athletic facilities, a new library and even larger parking lot.


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