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Central Middle will once again be known by its original name honoring a Hawaiian princess

Central Middle School
Central Middle School(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 10:32 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 17, 2021 at 12:35 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Board of Education Thursday approved the name of Central Middle School be changed back to its original moniker, Princess Ruth Keelikolani Middle School.

Officials said the school’s name honors Princess Ruth Keelikolani, whose palace once stood on the grounds of the campus off Queen Emma Street.

A building on campus still bears the princess’s name.

Keelikolani was once said to be the wealthiest land owner in all of Hawaii and even persuaded the goddess Pele from destroying Hilo.

School leaders and community members said they had been working since 2019 to make the switch.

“In the 1930s, because people couldn’t pronounce the name, they changed it back to Central,” said the school’s principal, Joseph Passantino. “So the significance is huge, especially for the staff who’s dedicated over two years to give her that duty and honor.”

Passantino said a large mural at the school honoring Princess Keelikolani is in the works and will be finished in time to celebrate her birthday on Feb. 9.

“As we continue to learn more about our school’s history, it became clear that changing the name of the school to Keelikolani Middle School would solidify and celebrate the school’s proud history and profound connection to a cherished alii,” Passantino added.

The school has 336 students in grades six through eight.

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