Island School turns 29

Island School recently turned 29 years old.

The private school was founded in 1977 in the old Makee Sugar Company Store site in Kealia. The school relocated to its current location behind Kaua‘i Community College in Puhi in 1991, only to be blown to bits by Hurricane ‘Iniki in 1992, school officials said in a press release.

Since then, the school has been rebuilt and has expanded to include pre-kindergarten through grade 12.

On Jan. 20, members of the student body gathered to celebrate the school’s birthday.

Reuniting for the first time in 20 years were the seven founders of the school: Jolly Bodine, Diana Dahl, Peggy Ellenburg, Lindsay Kamm, Rochelle Karter, Denise Kaufman, and Merlyn Ruddell.

These women began meeting in 1975 to lay the groundwork for a new school, forming the school’s first board of directors.

In the early 1980s, several of the founders relocated to the Mainland and to other islands.

Coming together for the birthday celebration was a rare event.

At the assembly, members of the Island School student body sang and performed the song, “Mighty Voyagers,” written especially for the school by parent Chucky Boy Chock and choreographed by parent Shelby Dabin. Led by Mary Alfiler, students also sang an adaptation of “This Little Light of Mine,” with members of each school unit singing their own verse.

There was also a slide-show presentation. This showcased the school’s campus-expansion project that includes building a gymnasium complex and a Hawaiian cultural center.

“It’s become a school tradition for our students to give something back to the community on the school’s birthday,” said Head of School Robert Springer.

Members of each unit planned and carried out the giving back, he said, as students’ gifts to the community.

Elementary students planted, painted, and cleaned around campus. Middle-school students were engaged in projects supporting their new on-campus recycling center. They also made gift baskets for those at Nana’s House, and weeded and mulched.

High-school students left campus to perform various service projects, including pet training at the Kauai Humane Society shelter, visiting residents at the Regency at Puakea elderly, assisted-living facility in Puhi, helping out at the National Tropical Botanical Garden, and removing invasive plants at the Maha‘ulepu sinkhole.


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