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Kauai schoolteacher Mrs. Lucy Wright

Mrs. Lucy Kapahu Aukai Wright (1873-1931) was born on Kauai of Hawaiian-Chinese parentage — her father, S. Aukai, served as deputy sheriff under Sheriff Samuel Whitney Wilcox and her mother was a descendant of a prominent chief’s family — and she was trained as a schoolteacher at Kawaiahao Seminary in Honolulu, graduating in 1892.

She then returned home to Kauai to become the principal and sole teacher at Anahola English School, and in doing so, became the first teacher of Hawaiian ancestry to teach at an English language school in Hawaii.

The school, located on Kealia Road, was just a one-room structure at that time in which she taught all grades up to eighth- grade. Anahola School, by the way, consolidated with Kapaa School in 1965.

Two years later, she transferred to Kapaa School, then housed in a two-room schoolhouse situated at Kaahiahi, now a vacant point of land that juts seaward alongside the Kapaa Bike Path makai of the Roman Catholic cemetery.

In 1896, the year she married Walter Wright, she was sent to Waimea School, in those days an elementary school comprised of two small rooms, making it necessary for her to sometimes hold classes outside.

At Waimea School — where she taught for 35 continuous years, and which grew to become a junior high school in 1921 and a high school in 1935 — Lucy Wright served under 15 principals, one of whom was Miss Etta Lee, the stunningly beautiful silent-film actress of the 1920s and 1930s.

A number of her former Waimea Junior High and Grammar School pupils became teachers themselves at the school. Among them were Harry Takata, Clarence Kamei, Julia Crowell, Tora Kurisaki, Hanako Morishige and Yone Kagawa, as well as her daughter Mrs. Angela Gouveia.

Widely known and respected and active in civic and church affairs, she was survived by six children when she passed away at Kilauea Hospital in 1931.

Seven years later, in August 1938, Waimea River Park was officially renamed Lucy Wright Park in her honor by the Kauai Board of Supervisors.

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