Hundreds sign petition to change name of McKinley High School

Published: Sep. 11, 2015 at 1:17 AM HST|Updated: Sep. 11, 2015 at 3:57 AM HST
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Ron Okamura
Ron Okamura
Aoloa Patao
Aoloa Patao

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By: Jim Mendoza

McKinley High School's main hall is a who's who of Hawaii history. Photos of famous graduates line the walls.

"There's politicians, business leaders, entertainers," principal Ron Okamura said.

In 1907 the school name changed from Honolulu High to McKinley High School after the late President William McKinley.  Big Island blogger Aoloa Patao wants the name changed back to Honolulu High.

"What was McKinley's involvement in Hawaii? Was it just? Absolutely not!" he said.

Patao believes having Hawaii's oldest public high school named after the president who brought about the annexation of Hawaii is an insult to Native Hawaiians.

"I don't think that because it's been there for so long that it's okay -- we should just leave it. You have to correct the wrong. It's never too late to correct a wrong," he said.

But Okamura said a name change would be a slight to generations of graduates.

"Growing up here, growing up local, growing up in the islands, I think that's one of the strongest bonds we have to our community is our high school," he said.

Patao started his petition months before President Obama changed the name of Alaska's Mt. McKinley back to its original native American name Denali.

As of Thursday, more than 700 supporters have signed Patao's petition.  He sees similarities between his cause and the TMT protest.

"I think in this generation, in 2015, there is momentum for things to be undone. So I think right now is the perfect time to be striving for that," he said.

Other movements to rename McKinley High have tried and failed.

"There was a push to rename the high school President Obama High School," Okamura said.

Patao, 28, graduated from Kealakehe High School.  He said his effort to rename McKinley is an avenue to awareness and a way to right a wrong.

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