Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023 |
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PUHI — Island School alumni gathered for a reunion and campout last weekend.
The day began with the familiar call to Morning Circle. Everyone sat on the floor in a big circle at Island School’s Frear Center, and sang the original Island School song set to the tune of “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” from “My Fair Lady,”— “Oh Island School is wonderful!”
Alumni, their parents and former teachers were immediately immersed in the nostalgia that flooded the room, according to a news release from Island School.
“This event was planned for Island School students who attended during the Kealia Days,” explained Peggy Ellenburg, Island School co-founder and director of alumni relations.
The school, founded in 1977, began its 35-year history at the former company store for the Makee Sugar Company in Kealia. Three senior classes were graduated from that campus: 1981, 1982 and 1983.
The little red schoolhouse was home to Island School for 14 years, before it moved to its present location in Puhi in 1991.
Today, Island School occupies 38.4 acres with 360 students in grades pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade.
Two former Heads of School were among the attendees: Lindsay (Warren) Kamm, also a co-founder of the school, and Sue Tuttle, as well as Nancy Bushnell, who taught science and math at the Kealia campus for over a decade. Also in attendance were three teachers from the Kealia Days who are still on the faculty: Connie Kakalia, Adie Siebring and Ellenburg.
After Morning Circle, the group met for lunch at Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow in Koke‘e, prior to checking in at Camp Sloggett.
“Watching the children of our alumni playing with each other brought back some wonderful memories,” said Ellenburg in the release.
“A third of my graduating class is at this reunion,” said Chris Smith, one of three members of the Class of 1981.
Smith was acknowledged with a maile lei for traveling from Papua New Guinea to attend. Two of his daughters, Rachel and Jordan, came with him.
The weekend was filled with surprises as new alumni joined the group. Deena Fontana, who lives in Brazil, arrived Sunday morning with her son, as did Ryan Smith and his girlfriend, who live in Texas.
Traveling from Seattle, Carla (Lamberton) Sellers came to the reunion with her daughter, Jessica. Carla was reunited with one of her Island School classmates, Tora Smart, and her second-grade teacher, Sarah (Duble) Purcell.
Several alumni who attended are current Island School parents. Chia Granda brought her two pre-school sons, Apollo and Ahanu. Kylie Wilson and her daughter, Abby, were also there. One of the co-chairs of the event, Nathaniel Evslin, came with his family, including his wife, Marissa, two sons, Isaac and Max, his mother, Micki, sister Tanya Gamby (also an alumna) with her husband Chris and their children, Jackson and Zeke. Milo Spindt and his children attended with his parents, Bud and Ingrid, who now live on O‘ahu.
There were many highlights to the event. Former music teacher Auntie Mary Alfiler led everyone in singing while the keiki played drums, harmonica and percussion instruments.
The group entertained one another with a talent show, a tradition dating back to Talent Show Fridays at the Kealia campus. The meals were coordinated by Willy Ellenburg, whose culinary skills were well appreciated.
“We had so much fun! What a wonderful weekend. It was so nice to reconnect and spend time with old friends,” said Kylie Wilson, who echoed a sentiment shared by everyone who attended.
“This could become a yearly event,” said Ellenburg, “perhaps at Camp Naue next time.”
Former Island School students who wish to connect with their alma mater are encouraged to contact Ellenburg at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/islandschoolalumni/.
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