DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Lawmakers and building design experts held a news conference yesterday to talk about refurbishing Kawananakoa Middle School's auditorium, which used to be a premier auditorium. State Rep. Corinne Ching (R, Nuuanu-Liliha); Ryley Antinori, Ching's office manager; and Sabrina Hall, writer for the House minority, were inside the auditorium.
Curtain rises on project
$283,000 is released to start
» Hawaii 3R's to help repair 33 schools
renovating the facility built in 1937
» Schools given shared calendar
A leaking ceiling. Termite-bitten walls. Temperatures like a sauna. A "river" that runs through the theater when it rains.
In the program for Kawananakoa Middle School's play last month, artistic director Daniel Mew described the hurdles his students faced in using their historic Nuuanu auditorium, once a popular community center for performing arts.
Yesterday, a small step toward stemming the damage and ultimately restoring the nearly 70-year-old facility was taken when Gov. Linda Lingle released $283,000 in funds to improve the auditorium.
"This is really going to be just the start," said Principal Sandra Ishihara-Shibata. "This is going to help us with our electrical and plumbing. There's a lot of structural things that need to be done. What's really going to make a difference is the community support."
Kawananakoa is one of the few public middle schools with a full-fledged auditorium, while others make do with "cafetoriums" for assemblies and performances. Completed in 1937 and named after Princess Abigail Kawananakoa, the nearly 800-seat facility housed elaborate stage productions featuring local and Japanese performers in its early, glory days.
But the building has deteriorated over the years to the point where a few areas are off limits for safety reasons. The ceiling has holes, wood panels backstage are so termite-eaten they are paper thin, and the hall is plagued by ventilation and flooding problems.
"It can be the pearl of the district," said state Rep. Corinne Ching (R, Nuuanu-Liliha), who recently helped bring together a volunteer committee of experts, including architects Glenn Mason and Lorraine Palumbo, to advise the restoration effort.
At least three-quarters of Kawananakoa's 830 students are involved in performing arts, including its award-winning band, orchestra and drama programs, Ishihara-Shibata said. Renovating the auditorium has been a priority for years.
In all, $1.76 million was appropriated by the Legislature to renovate the auditorium and expand the nearby music building, and the portion released yesterday is mostly for the design phase of the projects, state Comptroller Russ Saito said yesterday.
Work on the music building should be complete by next summer, and the auditorium improvements are expected to be complete by early 2007.
In addition to electrical and plumbing work, the money will go toward improving the auditorium's stage, support rooms, public spaces, acoustics, and sound and lighting systems. Contractors are also due to begin fixing the auditorium's roof later this month, with previously appropriated funds.
At a news conference on campus yesterday, William Philpotts of Philpotts & Associates, a member of the volunteer committee, called on the community to join the auditorium restoration effort by offering expertise or donating funds for other improvements such as air conditioning.
"There is real potential for this auditorium to be a resource for the community," he said. "There are very few schools at the high school or intermediate level, even private schools, that have an auditorium of this nature."
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Hawaii 3R’s to start repair
project for 33 schools
Hawaii 3R's is repairing and restoring various public schools this summer.
The nonprofit organization has awarded grants to 33 public schools statewide for repairs and maintenance. With help from volunteers, grants totaling more than $900,000 will go toward repairs that would have cost the schools an estimated $2.1 million to complete.
In 2001, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye started Hawaii 3R's, which stands for Repair, Remodel and Restore Hawaii's public schools. Trade unions, businesses, military community leaders, parents, teachers and students provide volunteer "sweat equity" to help reduce the backlog at a lower cost.
Hawaii 3R's has received funding from the state and federal government, Hawaii Community Foundation, Campbell Estate and the James and Abigail Campbell Foundation, AT&T Foundation and Harold K.L. Castle Foundation.
The following public schools will benefit from the grants:
>> Ahuimanu Elementary
>> Aiea Intermediate
>> Aikahi Elementary
>> Aliamanu Elementary
>> Aliamanu Middle
>> Anuenue School
>> Campbell High School
>> Castle High School
>> Enchanted Lake Elementary
>> Hauula Elementary
>> Kahuku Elementary
>> Kahuku High and Intermediate
>> Kailua Elementary
>> Kalaheo High School
>> Kaneohe Elementary
>> Kapunahala Elementary
>> Kihei Elementary
>> King Intermediate
>> King Kamehameha III Elementary
>> Lahainaluna High School
>> Lanai High and Intermediate
>> Manana Elementary
>> Manoa Elementary
>> Mililani High School
>> Mokapu Elementary
>> Mountain View Elementary
>> Palisades Elementary
>> Pope Elementary
>> Sunset Beach Elementary
>> Waiahole Elementary
>> Waikele Elementary
>> Waimanalo Elementary and Intermediate
>> Waimea Middle