Wednesday, November 4, 1998

Moanalua High
School at ease
after blessing

There had been reports of problems
with machinery and frequent illnesses
on the construction crew

By Debra Barayuga


THERE were reports of a ghostly presence on the Moanalua High School campus.

Workers on a construction project there frequently called in sick or had problems with machinery. The site was blessed twice before the alleged incidents stopped and workers resumed work.

When construction equipment began arriving at Moanalua High School last week for a new project, school staffers were eager to bless the site of the future multipurpose building as soon as possible.

The construction crew didn't want to start work until the area had been blessed.

Workers have many stories

"Everyone's a little bit nervous after what happened last time," said Principal Jacqueline Heupel. The site was blessed during a last-minute afternoon ceremony Monday.

The crew apparently had heard about unexplained goings-on during another construction project that was beset with problems at Moanalua High three years ago.

The equipment was stored near where the new building is going up.

"These are guys who have been all over the island. They've seen things, and I respect the stories they hear," Heupel said.

The stories included a bulldozer careening out of control into the student parking lot moments before the school bell rang at the end of the day, and the safety cover on a cross saw breaking and cutting a worker.

A kahu who has since died explained back then that the crew may have brought spirits from a previous work site that were clashing with spirits inhabiting the Moanalua campus.

Ghost calls staff by name

Researchers and retired staff have said that the campus is built near the former site of a heiau and is allegedly in the path of the "night marchers," or spirits of ancient Hawaiians, said Heupel, who is Hawaiian.

A house for women was allegedly built where the cafeteria sits.

Strange occurences not related to the construction, but involving a woman, have some staff and students convinced the school has a resident ghost.

The cafeteria and custodial staff call her "the lady," said Merle Harada, a resource teacher and one of several teachers who began organizing ghost walks for students and parents on campus five years ago.

The staff believes she exists because they've seen her, a young woman with long brown hair and wearing a white tunic whirling about the cafeteria.

She's supposedly friendly and playful, often calling staff by name. "Virgie, Virgie. Ronnie, Ronnie. Toshi, Toshi," said Merle Harada, a resource teacher. "They have profound respect for her."

She appears after summer

The staff have also seen floating dish towels and powdery footprints and heard women's voices laughing and crying.

The occurrences happen mostly around September and October. Cafeteria staff speculate it's because "the lady" missed the students during the summer break and is glad they're back in school, Harada said.

The entire school is looking forward to the new $3.5 million multipurpose building, which when completed will become a school/community student center, Heupel said.

It will feature a conference room for up to 200 people, a computer/media center, book store and snack bar. The building will be open day and night for use by Moanalua students, students at neighboring feeder schools, adult community school students and the community.

"I'd like every high school to have one," said Heupel. "It really is going to be exclusively for students and for a school of tomorrow."

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