Breaking ground

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    New Head of School Kate Conway is social distancing and face mask compliant as she greets guests, Thursday in front of the new Island School plans that include the new classroom.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    As one of her first duties, new Head of School Kate Conway acknowledges the people who preceded Island School’s occupancy of the land, Thursday during groundbreaking ceremonies for a new classroom.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Kumu Sabra Kauka officiates over the social distancing compliant groundbreaking, Thursday for a new Island School classroom. Participating dignitaries included Arryl Kaneshiro, Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami, Kumu Sabra, Kathy Richardson, new Head of School Kate Conway, Laura Cushne, and Ralph Cushne.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Archie Achuara Jr. and Thatcher Magoun sound the start of groundbreaking for a new Island School classroom, Thursday at the ceremony officiated by Kumu Sabra Kauka.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Kumu Sabra Kauka gets help from Kathy Richardson in blessing the ground ahead of Kate Conway, the new Island School Head of School, Thursday during the groundbreaking for a new classroom at the Puhi campus.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Kate Conway, the new Head of School for Island School, right, adds salt to the water, Thursday during the groundbreaking blessing for the new classroom that will start construction starting July 1. Officiating is Kumu Sabra Kauka, Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami holds the wai, and Kathy Richardson holds the calabash.

PUHI — Kate Conway does not start her new job as Head of School until next Wednesday, but was pressed into service with her first task — the groundbreaking for a new classroom, Thursday at the Island School campus.

Officiated by Kumu Sabra Kauka, the construction of a large, new classroom building is the next step in fulfilling a long-term development plan for the Island School Puhi campus that calls for serving 500 students.

“In 1968, we received approval for a Robotics and Mathematics classroom,” said Kathy Richardson, the Island School board president. “Then we were hit by the economic recession and the plan was put on hold. In 2018, we decided to restart the project.”

The plan for the new classroom calls for constructing and outfitting a sturdy two-story building that will rise adjacent to the last row of classrooms adjacent to the athletic fields. The classroom will feature six flexible-use classrooms with a “maker space” designed for “deeper learning” course work, states an Island School release.

Sean Magoun, the Island School Director of Admissions, said site work will start July 1 headed by Cushnie Construction whose Laura Cushnie said they have been involved with the Island School Puhi campus for the past 30 years.

Construction of the new facility is estimated at $5.2 million, and will add 10,488 square feet of learning space to the campus. The new classroom building will also enable Island School to implement all the coursework priorities it set in 2016 when student enrollment surpassed the school’s 390 capacity.

The new coursework would add engineering classes, expand the technology curriculum, add to a set of certified advanced placement classes for high school students, and offer several “deeper learning” opportunities where students can explore, solve, discover, and innovate.

The increased space would also allow the school to welcome more community groups, and more all-island learning teams to its campus. It places Island School to become an even stronger part of a package of resources for Kaua‘i residents, and for new families who are attracted to business opportunities on Kaua‘i.

Funding for the project is provided through grants and donations from foundations, companies, and individuals.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or


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