JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
University Laboratory School 11th-grader Taryn Takebayashi, right, played the school's only surviving cello as family, friends and alumni walked to a memorial placard to place leis during yesterday's healing ceremony near the site where fire burned down the elementary school a month ago.
Ceremony starts the healing at UH Lab School
'As a family, we're going to heal and move ahead'
AS SHE SERENADED a large crowd with the only surviving cello from University Laboratory School, junior Taryn Takebayashi could only think about all the other cellos she could not save from the fire that destroyed a school building.
As she played for more than 200 people who came to a "healing ceremony" for a beloved 65-year-old building destroyed by flames last month, many of them placed a lei on the elementary school sign, one of the few items saved from the debris.
"The sign still has grit and ashes on it because we haven't cleaned it," said counselor and assistant administrator Tracy Teixeira, who organized the 4 p.m. ceremony. "It keeps us humble and shows us that we will survive."
Area residents, police, firefighters, teachers, administrators, students and their families with close ties to University Laboratory met at the school grounds across from the University of Hawaii to pay their final respects and seek closure, the burnt wooden remains serving as backdrop to the ceremony.
"Music brings everyone together and helps us to heal," Takebayashi said. "I was able to save one cello, but I wish I could have saved more."
The 16-year-old orchestra and choir member borrowed the cello to practice over summer vacation.
She was joined by other students in remembering their school.
"We chose this location not so much to remind us of the fire, but of the memories we made here growing up," said junior Jenna Matsumoto, who stood next to a pile of empty tissue boxes. "That's where my friends and I spent our lunch breaks, laughing endlessly and telling jokes."
Matsumoto and 30 other students volunteered to help Teixeira plan the ceremony. Students made more than 100 ti leaf leis.
The fire, which might have been intentionally set, caused $6.5 million in damage, destroying the building that housed the athletic, drama and music departments and the offices of the UH College of Education. The blaze destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment, including $4 million worth of research for grant projects.
Classes that were to be held in the building will be reassigned when more than 400 students return at the start of school in August, Teixeira said. The school has ordered four portable classrooms from the mainland, which should arrive in late November.
The UH Foundation had received $46,545 in donations for the College of Education and UH Lab School's Fire Recovery Fund as of yesterday morning.
The school will host a fundraising concert on Aug. 19 at Andrews Amphitheater on the UH-Manoa campus. The Brothers Cazimero and HAPA will be among local entertainers at the event in an effort to raise money to rebuild the school.
"We're the Lab School and there's no plan B," Teixeira said. "As a family, we're going to heal and move ahead."