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When 2 become 1


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POSTED: Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Hawaiian Mission Academy and Hawaiian Mission Elementary and Intermediate School boards and the Hawaii Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Board of Education voted in March 2008 to merge the high school and the elementary school.

               

     

 

Each week, Hawaii’s teenage reporters tell us about their high school. Today’s school…

Hawaiian Mission Academy

        Address
       

1438 Pensacola St., Honolulu, HI 96822

       

Principal

       

Manuel Rodriguez

       

Telephone

       

536-2207

       

Colors

       

Blue and white

       

Mascot

       

Knight

       

Ka 'Elele

       

Faculty adviser: Jane Cheeseman

       

Editor: Cami Muller

       

 

       

Both schools originally started as one school but were separated when grades 9-12 moved to the Pensacola Street location and became Hawaiian Mission Academy. The elementary and intermediate school remained at the Makiki Street site.

Plans to merge began when an anonymous benefactor rented the high school chapel for his church group. Week after week, the benefactor began to find out more about HMA, later referring to the school as “;Hawaii's best kept secret.”;

The benefactor had worked successfully on multimillion-dollar building projects at other major private schools in Hawaii and was eager to provide similar assistance for HMA. He and Principal Manuel Rodriguez became fast friends, united by a similar purpose: to better HMA. Rodriguez soon learned from his new friend that thinking outside the box could solve some of the many challenges that come with running a private high school.

HMA and HMEI could benefit by combining both schools onto one campus. A strong K-12 program could translate into a higher student retention rate. Combining the two student bodies would also allow them to share state-of-the-art science labs, computer labs and a performing arts center. The chapel could also be enlarged. Plans are underway to construct a new six-grade classroom building with a library.

Merging the two schools is a good idea for another reason. On June 18, 2006, the attic above the HMEI chapel caught fire, damaging both the ceiling and administration building and charring the affected areas beyond saving. The rest of the school also needed reconstruction and remodeling. The cost to rebuild the fire-scarred areas and remodel the classrooms would have been prohibitive. But after long hours of consideration and through the combined efforts of Rodriguez, the anonymous benefactor and HMEI principal John Mooy, merging the schools appeared to be a reasonable, if not God-sent, solution.

After much planning, meetings and deliberation, the three men presented the idea to the school's constituents, gaining consensus after three meetings with the group. Merging the two schools was met with both acceptance and opposition.

“;Understandably the elementary school faculty and staff have developed a strong bond with the people and campus they had invested a total of over 130 years in,”; said HMA teacher Peter Cheeseman. “;Strong ties to the campus and happy memories of students and events hold a special place in their hearts, and it is difficult to move from a place that is really home to the faculty and staff.”;

The move will not be immediate, though. Changes come slowly, and all the permits and processes for such a major undertaking will take months, even years to complete and for relocation to take place. The two campuses will have some classrooms in common during construction but would be separate once construction is completed. The logistics of keeping the academy students separate from the intermediate students during the transition period is being worked on.

The Belt Collins new master plan, with modifications, is serving as a basis for the major project. Thanks to three men with a dream and the hard work of board members who have sacrificed many hours on the merger, plans are beginning to crystallize.

Until two schools are on one campus, HMA welcomes the present HMEI to become, for the time being, Hawaiian Mission Academy, K-8 (Makiki campus). Welcome aboard.