After 45 years, a legend at Pearl City High says goodbye

After 45 years, a legend at Pearl City High says goodbye
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's the end of an era for Pearl City High School.

On Friday, English teacher Margaret 'Mike' Ishihara retired -- after 45 years.

Ishihara claims a congressman and the governor as two of her former students. On her last official day, it was dozens of other former students and colleagues who gathered to celebrate.

Lei, cake and a large, signed banner were part of Ishihara's send-off in the school's cafeteria.

"She just wanted to go in the sunset and walk off," said 1988 graduate and Pearl City High Athletic Director Reid Shigemasa, who helped organize the event. "She means so much to our school and community that we had to do something for her."

Ishihara has been at the school since it opened in 1971.

She says she used to drive up from Pearl City Highlands Intermediate to watch as the high school was being built. "It's like my baby because I was here when it opened its doors," she said.

During her time at the school, she's accumulated piles of mementos from her students. So Ishihara spent the summer packing up her classroom, B 201. Gifts from students, posters, school shirts and yearbooks were all stored away in boxes.

The last thing she'll remove: The pictures covering the walls, a collage of past students. Some became parents, and Ishihara taught their kids, too.

There is one picture that stands alone on a cabinet in her class: Ishihara with two former students, Gov. David Ige and the late Congressman Mark Takai, who died last week after a months-long battle with cancer.

"Mark was the one who insisted on the picture and I was real glad," Ishihara said.

The picture was taken at the school's 2015 graduation. She already has a place ready for it at home.

Ishihara does have other pictures of the two -- Takai in the yearbook, when he was student body president and she was his adviser -- but this one is special.

Ishihara said she will always remember him as a passionate leader.

"The three of us were very close," added Ige, who graduated in 1975 -- the school's first graduating class.

"It was an exciting time for us as students. It was an exciting time for the teachers because, really, we were establishing the traditions that will become Pearl City High School, mighty home of the chargers!" Ige said, wearing a purple aloha shirt to honor his alma mater's colors.

Ishihara taught Ige in both intermediate and high school.

"I remember his laugh. he has a very outstanding laugh," she said.

On one occasion, she recalled, he questioned one of her lessons. "I remember we had a cooking session when he was a freshman. And he said, 'This is English class, why are we cooking' and I said it's the following directions lesson that we have," Ishihara said.

Ishihara proudly shows off Pearl City High's 1975 yearbook, where Ige is sporting longer hair, parted in the middle, and bell bottoms.

Both got a good laugh about that Friday.

Ishihara kept in touch with both state leaders over the years, even helping them campaign. But they are only two of the thousands of students she'll remember from her decades at Pearl City High.

When school starts Monday, the halls will be filled again with students. But for the first time in Pearl City High School history, Ishihara won't be there to welcome them.

"I am ready," she said. "My heart isn't, but I am ready to go because it is time."

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