Oahu middle school renamed after Hawaiian princess

HONOLULU — Hawaii’s Board of Education has approved changing Central Middle School’s name to honor the Hawaiian princess who once owned the downtown Honolulu property.

At a meeting Thursday, the board approved naming the campus Princess Ruth Ke’elikolani Middle School. School and community leaders have been trying since 2019 to rename the school.

The princess’ home, Keoua Hale, once stood on the grounds of the current campus and when she died in 1883, her property was bequeathed to Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, according to documents supporting the name change. After Pauahi’s death in 1885, the board of education purchased the property for what became Honolulu High School in 1895, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

It later became Central Grammar School before it was changed briefly to Ke’elikolani School. It became Central Junior High School in 1928, then Central Intermediate School in 1932 and Central Middle School in 1997, the newspaper reported.

“In the 1930s, because people couldn’t pronounce the name, they changed it back to Central,” said the school’s principal, Joseph Passantino, Hawaii News Now reported. “So the significance is huge, especially for the staff who’s dedicated over two years to give her that duty and honor.”

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