DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Fire investigators walked yesterday through and around the smoldering rubble of the University Lab School. A dramatic blaze Tuesday destroyed musical instruments, athletic trophies and equipment, uniforms and photographs.
School treasures destroyed
The violins, the trophies trumpeting athletic achievements, costumes and high school memories lay in a smoldering heap where part of the University Laboratory School once stood.
But just a day after the fire caused so much damage, there was talk of coming back from the ashes.
Former professional football player and alumnus Joe Onosai said he is confident the school will bounce back. "One thing I liked about a small school ... we always knew that even though we were small, we were tough," he said yesterday.
School Athletic Director James Bukes said he received calls from many Interscholastic League of Honolulu officials asking how they can help. "And that's touching," he said, battling back tears.
Current and former students stopped by the Manoa campus throughout the day yesterday, taking photos of the charred remains of the athletic, choir and drama departments.
School officials are doing an inventory of items damaged in the blaze.
Kami Seminara, who was among 52 students who graduated from the school last month, was compiling graduation photos in a slide show to be shown at an upcoming get-together for UH Lab School graduates through Project Graduation. About $1,000 that was raised for the get-together is now planned to be donated to the school, said Seminara's mother.
"I still can't believe it. Just a month ago, I was walking through those hallways," said Seminara, 17, who attended the school since she was an eighth-grader. "I'm still in shock."
"My friends and I are really, really sad," she said. "So many of us grew up there."
As he stood on the sidewalk observing smoke from the blackened piles of wood, Andrew Ige, a 1999 graduate of the UH Lab School, said, "It's depressing."
Ige said he has a lot of memories from the gym and theater, dubbed the "matchbox" by faculty and students because it was a small, wooden structure. Ige said he recalled breaking into the gym with his friends to play basketball when it rained.
The blaze also destroyed musical instruments and costumes.
"It wiped out the orchestra room. All of the string instruments we kept there were destroyed. It wiped up the choir room, piano," said Lanning Lee, vice president of the University Laboratory School Alumni Association.
Bukes said at least tens of thousands of dollars in athletic equipment were destroyed, including a year-and-a-half-old weight room with an estimated value of $20,000, as well as a new wrestling mat estimated at $8,000 to $9,000.
Also destroyed were all the uniforms for the basketball, volleyball and softball teams. Each uniform set cost an estimated $4,000 to $6,000, Bukes said.
Along with uniforms and equipment, many trophies and plaques -- won primarily by students from the 1970s to the 1990s -- were consumed by the blaze. They were displayed around a room as a big as a classroom.
"There were 45 years of history in that office," Bukes said. "It's overwhelming."
Onosai, a 1983 graduate and former Dallas Cowboys football player, said a lot of priceless medals, photos and trophies that he and other students worked hard for were ravaged in the blaze.
Onosai led Pac-Five (UH Lab School and four other small schools formed the team) to one of its two Prep Bowl championships.* In 1987 he was drafted by the Cowboys.
Onosai said he became emotional after hearing about the fire because "I felt a piece of me went down with the fire."
Onosai said he called his friend and fellow Lab School graduate Konishiki (Salevaa Atisanoe) in Japan yesterday morning to share the news. The former sumo wrestler was equally shocked about what had happened, Onosai said.
Bukes said: "But the reality is that no one lost their lives. Everything we have we can work to replace.
"If I lost a friend, I don't know how I would handle that. This is tough enough."
Friday, June 16, 2006
» Pac-5 won two Prep Bowls in the 1980s. A Page A14 article yesterday incorrectly reported the team had only one win.