After decades of planning, state’s newest high school officially opens

Kulanihakoi High School is officially open on Maui.
Kulanihakoi High School.
Kulanihakoi High School.(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Aug. 7, 2023 at 5:56 PM HST
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KIHEI (HawaiiNewsNow) - After decades of planning, the state’s newest high school is now officially open.

Kulanihakoi High School on Maui welcomed students to its state-of-the-art, multimillion dollar campus on Monday.

Principal Halle Maxwell says it feels like Christmas morning.

“Yay! We’re finally here! Good morning! Can you believe it, mom? We are finally here ladies,” she said while greeting students and their parents to the Kihei campus.

Students say they are eager to be a part of history – the opening of South Maui’s first public high school.

“It’s very new to me. I’m pretty sure it’s new to all of us,” said Leilah Feliciano, a freshman. “It’s gonna be a new beginning.”

“I’m pretty excited that we’re up at the new campus and the school is actually open, but also a little nervous because I don’t know where all my classes are,” said sophomore class president Tyler Sammon.

“It’s a new school, a new beginning, a new start, and just a time to make memories,” said freshman Olivia Schrandt.

There are 139 students currently enrolled at Kulanihakoi High School. Maxwell estimates approximately 100 freshmen and 39 sophomores.

Students and parents have been waiting for this day for years.

“I think we’re just as excited as he is,” said Daniel and Michelle Cabiles, whose son is a freshman. “We’re really looking forward to him coming here. Also, we live close by. That’s what we’re excited about. "

That’s part of the reason why it’s taken so long for the high school to open. Most students live makai of busy Piilani Highway and the school was built mauka of the highway.

Ten years ago, the state Land Use Commission said an overpass must be built so students can get to the opposite side of the highway safely.

While state officials work to secure funding for that, the Hawaii Department of Transportation built a two-lane roundabout to slow traffic down.

Meanwhile, students are required to get dropped off. No one is allowed to cross.

Despite the roadblocks, school officials say they’re driven to help students thrive.

“I’m excited to finally be able to bring the dream of the type of education we want to provide for our students to life,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell says she’s still looking for a few more hires including a librarian and teachers for special education, music, math, English and Hawaiian Language. For more information about the job openings, click here.

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