Home » Uncategorized » Keanae School, Keanae, HW

Keanae School, Keanae, HW



Keanae School

14000 Hana Highway

Keanae, HW 96708

The village of Ke’anae, on the north coast of Maui, had its own school for 96 years.  The Keanae School is an elevated single-story wooden structure with a corrugated metal roof which sits at the crest of an upward sloping lawn. The main portion of the building was constructed in 1912. The facade is defined by a long lanai, located under the main roof of the building. Keanae School is a rare surviving example of a small rural school. The original school had only two rooms with a front lanai.  The extension of the lanai, the former shop room, and the rest rooms were added at a later date.  This last one-room school in the state of Hawaii closed just a few weeks before the school year began in fall 2005. Now village children travel an hour by bus to the town of Hana.  Ke’anae is a sleepy village in the tropical rain forest of east Maui. Most who live there are native Hawaiian. Family ties and Hawaiian cultural traditions are strong, and land ownership goes back many generations. Many people grow taro, a root crop brought to the islands by the Polynesians. Poi, a staple of the Hawaiian diet, is made from taro.  Ke’anae is an unusual place in modern Hawaii. It’s a symbol to many people of “the old Hawaiian style” of life, where natives were able to live off the land. That’s no longer possible in Ke’anae. Most people drive to west Maui, more than an hour away, to find work.  There also is a generation gap in Ke’anae. There are many older people and some younger ones. But people in their 30s and 40s have found reasons to take their families and leave. Only now are some in that age group beginning to return.  The one-room schoolhouse in Keanae, which is also used as a community center, that had long been the state’s smallest public school has no students, but the rural campus isn’t officially closed.  An average of five students has attended Keanae School in recent years, with one teacher handling kindergartners through third grade.  If enrollment reaches 12 students at Keanae, classes will be held there again.  Officials don’t want to formally close the school, because current standards require a minimum acreage for schools and Keanae School wouldn’t be big enough to reopen.  Once an old school like that is closed, it could never qualify for reopening.

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