Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, September 6, 2001

Castle High
celebrates 50 years

2 alumni organize a show
around Castle's musical heritage

By John Berger

Hank Iida doesn't believe in coulda/woulda/shoulda. The Castle graduate knows there's only one chance to celebrate your old high school's 50th anniversary.

"I didn't want us to look back and say we should have (celebrated)," Iida (Class of '53) said. He and Sam Kakazu Jr. (Class of '76) took the lead in organizing a 50th Anniversary dinner, concert and dance to commemorate the school's official dedication 50 years ago.

Castle has been best known in recent years for its high-visibility theater program, so Iida and Kakazu decided to showcase the school's musical heritage. Performers include Hoku Award winner Teresa Bright, Jesse Rivera, Justin Kalawaia and Friends, and 3-D, Dwight Kanae, David "Kawika" Kahiapo, and Hoku winner, Del Beazley, who qualifies for graduate- in-law status since his wife is a Castle grad. (A scheduling conflict prevented another prominent Castle grad, kumu hula Kawaikapuokalani Hewett, from joining the program.)

Dinner will be followed by the concert and then a dance in the gym. Proceeds will help support programs in the 10 Castle complex schools.

"Hopefully people will come. We're expecting between 1,500 and 2,000 people. That isn't too much because there's 2,000 students in the school," Iida said.

The event adds excitement to what is already a big weekend for the Castle football team and its supporters. The Knights host the McKinley Tigers at Castle on Friday.

In addition to being one of Oahu's older public high schools, Castle is one of the five founding schools of the Oahu Interscholastic Association. The OIA now includes Honolulu's public high schools as will as those of rural Oahu but it started out as a five-team league; the four other schools were Kahuku, Waialua, Leilehua and Waipahu. Iida said that what is now Castle High School was once the upper grades of Benjamin Parker School, a grade K through 12 school for a district that stretched from Waimanalo to Kualoa. The OIA was originally known as the Rural League. Harold Castle donated 40 acres to the Territory of Hawaii for a separate Windward high school that was completed in 1951 and Ben Parker became an elementary school.

Here's another twist to the history lesson: Iida said Castle High School wasn't officially dedicated until Sept. 4, 1951.

"That's why although we were physically at Castle (from January of 1951) the first (graduating) class was really the last class from Ben Parker. The Class of '52 was the first official class from Castle."

Iida and Kakazu are hoping that people from all 50 graduating classes will turn out for the celebration. They're also hoping to see current students, anyone who graduated from Ben Parker and members of the community. "It's a family event (and) the public is welcome. Castle is part of the community and this is a community event."

Come together

Castle High School 50th reunion With dinner concert and dance:

Where: Castle High School cafeteria
When: 5 p.m. Saturday
Admission: $10 to $14 for adults, $5 to $7 for kids and $5 for dance in advance at school cafeteria during freshman parent night, and Friday night on during the home football game on Castle Field; $14 adults, $7 kids and dance $7.50 at the door.
Call: 233-5600

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