The history of Koolau School

Kauai’s Koolau School opened in 1889 as a one-room schoolhouse situated next to, and on the Kilauea side of the old graveyard on Koolau Road.

The schoolhouse eventually expanded to four rooms, a teachers’ cottage was built on the Kilauea side of the schoolhouse, and a white, clapboard Hawaiian Protestant church with steeple once graced the graveyard.

Most of the school’s students resided in Moloaa Camp, which once stood mauka of the former Moloaa dairy buildings site off Kuhio Highway.

Their parents were employees of Hawaiian Canneries, a pineapple company that operated a cannery in Kapaa where Pono Kai Resort now stands.

Among Koolau School’s many teachers was Miss Ella Thronas, who in 1911, had the distinction of being locked out.

After Miss Thronas submitted her resignation to Kauai school agent W. E. H. Deverill at the close of the 1911 school term in order to become the bride of C. S. Christian, Deverill was initially unsuccessful in finding a successor to replace her and the school remained closed when the new term began.

Then Mrs. Christian sent a letter to superintendent Atkinson in Honolulu explaining that she was willing to temporarily resume teaching at Koolau School to fill the vacancy, which Atkinson approved.

However, Atkinson did not notify Deverill, so that when Mrs. Christian went to the schoolhouse one morning prepared to teach, she found the place locked, and Deverill, who in the meantime had finally succeeded in obtaining a teacher to replace Mrs. Christian, refused her the keys.

Happily, the dilemma was resolved when Atkinson appraised Deverill of the situation, and Mrs. Christian was able to gain access.

By 1911, 60 students instructed by one teacher attended Koolau School, but attendance gradually decreased.

Forty-nine years later, in 1960, Kapaa resident Caroline Okasako’s graduating class was comprised of only three students.

Koolau School closed in June 1960 and nothing now remains of the schoolhouse, church and cottage.

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