Isles to get firstThe Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii will open the nation's first Buddhist high school next year in Honolulu with the help of a $1.5 million blessing from headquarters in Kyoto, Japan.
Buddhist high school
in United States
The school is being launched
with a donation from Japan
By Lisa Asato
Bishop Chikai Yosemori, head of the statewide group of temples, said the high school has been the mission's "long-awaited dream."
The school will fill an educational gap in a system that educates about 300 students from preschool to eighth grade at its Hongwanji Mission School and offers a Buddhist Study Center for adults and college students.
Without a high school for the students to continue on to, the mission was seeing its students -- well taught in the Buddhist value system -- transferring to private Christian schools, he said.
DEAN SENSUI / DSENSUI@STARBULLETIN.COM
Margaret Oda, school committee chairwoman, described the proposed high school yesterday.
Sixth-grader Brandi Fuchise said she is looking forward to going to the high school, which will open August 2003 with grade nine and add a grade every year.
"You go to the same school, you want to stay there because all your friends go there ... (and) I'm used to all the systems we have, so I really, really want to go to the high school," she said.
The college preparatory Pacific Buddhist Academy will be temporarily housed on the campus of the Hongwanji Mission School at 1728 Pali Hwy. as organizers look for a permanent home. Renovations to existing facilities at the campus begin this summer.
Bishop Itoku Takeno, governor general of the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha in Kyoto, presented the $1.5 million donation yesterday at a ceremony at the main temple. He later explained through an interpreter that the gift was a reflection of his administration's slogan of "Hiraku dendo," the spirit of which roughly means expanding the religion's reach to as many people as possible.
Margaret Oda, chairwoman of the high school committee and a former district superintendent for the Department of Education, said the school will be open to anyone, regardless of religion. A major campaign to raise an estimated $16 million over five to six years will begin once the high school obtains its nonprofit status.
Hongwanji Mission School Principal Lois Yasui said tuition runs about $6,000 a year for the current grades and will cost an estimated $7,000 annually for the high school.
Pacific Buddhist Academy
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