A brief history of Anahola School and Principal Carlotta Stewart Lai

A school was existent in Anahola at least as early as Feb. 19, 1858, the fateful day when it was blown down in a wind storm accompanied by thunder and lightning.

Scant records also indicate that on Oct. 25, 1892, Miss Lucy Aukai of the Kawaiahao Seminary on O‘ahu boarded the steamer Iwalini to become the principal of Anahola School, and by the turn of the century 39 pupils attended Anahola School.

Then in 1922, the County of Kaua‘i purchased property next to the Ko‘olau Hui‘ia Protestant Church in Anahola, on which a new, four-room Anahola School building and an adjoining teachers’ cottage would be constructed, which were needed because the school buildings then presently in use were overcrowded.

Work was completed in 1924 and the new school, which still stands to this day, was opened that same year.

Forty-one years later, Anahola School grades seven and eight were consolidated with Kapa‘a High &Intermediate School effective Sept. 1, 1965, and on Sept. 1, 1966, grades one through six were combined with Kapa‘a Elementary School — and Anahola School was closed.

Today, the Anahola School buildings are the home of Kamehameha Schools Preschool (Anahola).

Of special interest in the history of Anahola School is African American teacher and school Principal Carlotta Stewart Lai (1881-1952).

Originally from New York, she came to in Hawai‘i in 1898 with her father and stepmother and attended O‘ahu College (now Punahou School), where she earned a normal school teaching certificate, the qualification necessary for her to teach in Hawai‘i’s public schools.

She then accepted a post as an English teacher at Punahou, and in 1909 became the principal of Ko‘olau School, Kaua‘i, which once stood next to and on the Kilauea side of the old graveyard on Ko‘olau Road.

Lai was the principal at Anahola School from 1920 until 1929, when she was appointed principal of Hanama‘ulu School.

In 1916, she’d married Yun Tim Lai (1886-1935), the sales manager of Garden Island Motors, Kaua‘i’s Ford dealership. They had no children and she didn’t remarry after his death.

Hank Soboleski has been a resident of Kauai since the 1960s. Hank’s love of the island and its history has inspired him, in conjunction with The Garden Island Newspaper, to share the island’s history weekly. The collection of these articles can be found here: https://bit.ly/2IfbxL9 and here https://bit.ly/2STw9gi Hank can be reached at hssgms@gmail.com

  1. Hank Soboleski October 18, 2020 3:10 pm Reply

    The photo was contibuted by Dennis Esaki, since he is in it.

  2. Tomiko Conner October 25, 2020 8:03 am Reply

    Hoping that you can provide me with more information on “Scant records also indicate that on Oct. 25, 1892, Miss Lucy Aukai of the Kawaiahao Seminary on O‘ahu boarded the steamer Iwalini to become the principal of Anahola School,”

    The official records of Kawaiaha’o Seminary were not preserved. Over the last few years I have been gleaning any mentions of the Seminary and building a database of girls who attended 1864-1908. Kauai’i has strong ties to the Seminary. In addition to Lucy Aukai, and Emmalia Williams Hundley (both of whom you have mentioned in other history articles you’ve written), Emma Napoleon Mahelona Wilcox had a lifelong relationship with the school beginning as a student, then as matron, and finally as an active alumna and sponsor of girls. Hoping to hear from you. If you or your readers have any information on Kawaiaha’o Seminary I can be reached via KawaiahaoSeminary@gmail.com Mahalo!

  3. Hank Soboleski November 6, 2020 1:45 pm Reply

    Soldier and educator Domingo Los Baños (1925-2019) was also a principal of Anahola School.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.