When Kilauea school was established in 1882, during the reign of King David Kalakaua, it had no home of its own.
So its students, then mostly Portuguese and German children of Kilauea Sugar Co. workers, were taught in the Hawaiian Congregational Church located on the present site of Christ Memorial Episcopal Church.
They were also taught in an old building belonging to the Board of Education.
Not until 1894 was the Board able give the school a home by acquiring a two-acre plot from Kilauea Sugar upon which it built a two-room school house and a teacher’s cottage for Mr. Mueller.
This school was situated near the top of Kalihiwai Road, between what is now the giant banyan tree on the right side (heading downhill) and the bridge a short distance below.
In 1982, William Mahikoa remembered its wooden school buildings: “The old school building was more like a barracks building, three rooms in a row. The third room was added in 1896. The first room was for the first and second grades, the next was for third, fourth and fifth grades, and the principal’s room was for the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.”
By 1888, there were 24 boys and 30 girls attending Kilauea School; but by 1920, attendance — 239 students taught by seven teachers — had outgrown the school’s physical capacity.
Consequently in 1921, the Kaua‘i Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of 6.5 acres from Kilauea Sugar at the present site of Kilauea Elementary School. Construction of new school buildings was completed by July 1922, and the school opened for instruction on Sept. 11, 1922.
Three hours of English instruction daily was given to newly arrived immigrant children of plantation workers, while the curriculum for other children focused on reading, writing and arithmetic.