By Leland Kim
NANAKULI (KHNL) -- A high school homecoming dance -- or the lack of one -- is causing quite a stir on the leeward coast.
Nanakuli Intermediate and High School hasn't had a dance in three years. It's because some kids snuck in alcohol at the last one, and school officials canceled future dances, saying they couldn't ensure students' safety. But current students say they shouldn't be penalized for the actions of others.
Nanakuli Intermediate and High School is quiet, but a controversy brews beneath the surface. Some students petitioned school principal Levi Chang to have a homecoming dance after a three-year hiatus. He said no.
"There's going to be a lot of mad people," said Reena Kamaile, a Nanakuli sophomore. "The people that are quiet, they'll speak up and say, 'I want to go to the dance.'"
"We need the homecoming dance for more spirit, like for our school and students," said Franklin Iokua, a Nanakuli freshman. "Homecoming dance can pump up our spirit and probably help us win the homecoming game."
These students said not having a dance impacts the mood on campus.
"Students probably will not care about football or anything about the school and think our school has no spirit," said Iokua.
So, as of now, no homecoming dance during homecoming week. Principal Chang would not talk to us on camera, but did say his decision not to have the dance is due to school safety concerns.
School officials said there are so many variables they can't control, so they're erring on the side of caution. But students said this homecoming dance could help them feel good about themselves and where they come from.
"When you go to other games and other events of other schools, some kids feel they're better than us," said Kamaile. "They have more stuff than us. They have more spirit than us. We don't need to say that because we know we come from a good place. We have a good school. We have fun stuff to do."
They're hoping some of that fun stuff includes a homecoming dance.
Waianae High School, just next door, had a homecoming dance. So many in Nanakuli are wondering, why not them?
Thursday afternoon, folks from Nanakuli took things a step further, and went to the district. Several dozen students, parents, teachers and community leaders said a prayer before making their case. They said they can address any safety concerns the school may have about the homecoming dance.
"HPD has afforded us a neighborhood security watch at the same time so there's volunteer police officers that are going to be present, said Kimo Keli'i, president of the Nanakuli Parents Teachers Students Association. "We're going to hire two police officers. We have over 20 parents willing to volunteers to be in the dance, over 20 volunteers from the alumni association outside the dance."