KILAUEA — Keiki all over the island still know the name Ric Cox.
Founder of the nonprofit Aloha Angels, Cox fostered a community invested in supporting teachers, students and schools on Kauai. Because of his work, bands have flourished, after-school clubs have grown and teachers get extra school supplies.
And, though he passed at the age of 72 in 2017, the Aloha Angels founder’s legacy continues in another way as well, the architectural renderings of a dream he had for Kauai — the North Shore High School and Aquatic/Recreational Center.
He didn’t get to see that dream through to the end, but he did pass on the vision to independent architect Skylar Brown, who is taking it on himself to work toward making it a reality.
Brown said that in 2017, the conception was intended only for the high school but he later realized it was “vital to include an aquatic/recreation center to fulfill a community necessity.”
The high school is designed as a two-story, 46,888-square-foot structure that would host 600 students, grades 9-12. Design relies heavily on outdoor spaces and access to agricultural learning, with the goal of improving creativity and reducing stress in students.
The health center would provide the community with facilities for swimming, yoga, and free weights with a membership fee of around $5 a day.
“The aquatic center addresses the special needs for those who find the ocean an intimidating experience and the elderly population, who may have had joint replacements, and persons who require water therapy,” Brown said.
Now, Brown is finished the renderings and has started taking them to people in the community, like Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami.
Part low-cost, community health and fitness center, part outdoor and interactive learning center, the center would provide a safe place for both students and residents to collaborate and share information.
“I know the community wants something like this,” Brown said. “It’s a gift to the community with informal places for people to talk and meet, aquatic center with yoga and free weights and a pool that’s half Olympic-size so it can qualify for competitive meets.”
Open layouts and multi-purpose spaces would provide a level of transparency within the whole building and allow for flexible classes and use of space. Technology would be highly integrated to allow for quick sharing of information. Safety is also factored into the design, with a single entry point that can be locked remotely from the main office.
The North Shore High School would be tuition-free, Brown said. The estimated cost of the whole project could reach $15 million, perhaps even more. Currently, the project doesn’t have any funding.
The best place for it, in Brown’s opinion, is in Kilauea.
“It’s the intention to inspire thought and resources to transform this vision into a reality for all of Kauai’s residents and visitors,” Brown said.
This story has been changed to reflect that the school would be tuition-free.