At the school where Akaka served as principal, his legacy lives on

By Samantha Brooks
HNN Spring Intern

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -- At Kaneohe Elementary, the loss of former U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka hits close to home Friday.

Akaka was formerly principal at the school from 1965-68, and left a legacy there that's still felt today.

Derek Minakami, Kaneohe Elementary principal, said Akaka was "someone filled with aloha."

"His leadership at the school is still known to this day. When I talk to students who went to Kaneohe Elementary at the time he was here, they say he took a sincere interest in students and their learning, and that's something he upheld in Congress," Minakami said.

Akaka died Friday morning in Honolulu. He was 93.

Last year, the elementary school honored its former principal and the longtime senator by naming its administration building after him.

Akaka wasn't able to be there, but his daughter, Millannie, and first grandson David Mattson, attended in his place.

"My dad always tells us, 'You never stop learning. You always take advantage of the opportunity to learn even more," Akaka's daughter said, at the unveiling ceremony. "You learn here, you learn at home, you learn wherever you are and you use (those lessons) to the best of your ability."

On the campus of Kaneohe Elementary on Friday, there was a somber tone, Minakami said.

But students and faculty were remembering the aloha and kindness that Akaka embodied.

He added that the school has created a mural to honor Akaka and hope to hold a ceremony with the family in the near future. Kaneohe Elementary will also be honoring and memorializing Akaka in its May Day program on May 18.

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