Parents fear temporary closure of Lahainaluna boys’ dorm could become permanent

The school said it will be shutting the boys dorm down for about a month starting Tuesday.
Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 6:36 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 21, 2022 at 8:40 PM HST
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LAHAINA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lahainaluna High School’s boys’ dormitory is temporarily shutting down because of staff shortages.

But families, who worry this may become permanent, are pushing to keep the dorms open.

“We see this temporary closure as a move towards closing the boarding department all together,” said Lahainaluna Boarders Association President Craig Murakami.

Parents got a letter from the school last week saying, “The ongoing staffing shortages in our boys’ dormitory present a health and safety issue.”

The letter says the boys’ dorm will be closed from Tuesday through March 20.

“We will revisit conditions at that time to determine if the closure needs to be extended,” said interim Principal Lora-lea Grando, in the letter.

Anna-Marie Hartman’s two sons are boarders.

They live in Kahului, which is approximately 23 miles away.

“I cannot afford to take them to school unless I wake them up every day early at three o’clock in the morning and I drive because I need to be at work at six,” Hartman said.

But it’s not just the inconvenience, she and others say their greatest fear is that this could be the end of a very unique and special institution.

“The boarding department cannot survive if the administration, or the Department of Education, doesn’t back it up,” said Hartman.

Lahainaluna High School is the oldest school west of the Rocky Mountains and the only public school in the nation with a boarding program.

The boarding program has been around since 1831.

“Boarders are the backbone and the heart of Lahainaluna,” said Lahainaluna High School junior Kaliko Ventura. “That’s where a lot of the pride comes from.”

Ventura, a Hawaii Island resident, boarded her freshman year. She has been enrolled in distant learning since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and hopes to return as a boarder her senior year.

The letter home to parents states, “the girls’ dormitory is not impacted by this action.”

An online petition to save the program has garnered more than 1,600 signatures.

For students, staff, and alumni of the program, rallying together is what’s needed to keep the program alive and thriving.

“Anybody who’s working in administration, you have to understand that the boarding program is the heart of the school. It really is. And it would just be a travesty if it led to the closure of the program,” said former girls’ dorm Counselor Katy Greer.

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