KAPALAMA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Atop the hills of Kapalama, the students of Kamehameha Schools are fine-tuning their performances for Friday's annual song contest.
In its 98th year, the contest brings out the best in Hawaiian chorale music — and class rivalries.
As freshmen last year, the class of 2020 wowed the judges, and won two of the six coveted trophies with their rendition of Aunty Bina Mossman's catchy tune, Lae Lae.
The upset shocked the entire school.
"I can tell you we definitely weren't expecting it," class director Josias Pili Fronda said. "The night of, I sat all the way on the inside really not expecting anything. So when our name was called, that was a complete surprise."
It was only the fifth time in school history the freshman took top honors, which left the upperclassman hungry for redemption.
"As much as we don't like to admit it, we're all super competitive," Junior men's leader Josiah Hernandez said. "It was kind of like our little brothers and sister just beat us, so that's something we still carry with us right now."
Now as sophomores, Fronda will lead his class in Aloha 'Ia 'O Wai'anae, singing of a hidden part of Oahu's west side.
"Most people know Wai'ane is usually a dry place, but the deeper you get into Wai'anae, the more luscious and green it gets."
Going into this year's competition, the juniors have a message for last year's champions: "Good luck, but this year is definitely a year to watch out for us," Hernandez said.
Fronda however, is taking a less competitive approach. He say's his classmates are putting the hard work before the talent, and he's blessed they sing their coed song with such strength.
"It really talks about that sense of home and that pride of knowing where you come from. And that's why I think its so important this year that we emphasize our Hawaiian culture, especially with everything happening," Fronda said.
Come Friday night, the battle of the classes will be televised live on KGMB and streamed online.
The pre-show begins at 6:30 p.m. with the contest to follow at 7:30 p.m.