Sunday, January 7, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, January 7, 2001

Ho'ala to build own school

By Tino Ramirez
Advertiser North Shore Bureau

WAHIAWA — Although Hoala School’s construction budget is tight, the tiny private school will break ground this afternoon at its new Wahiawa campus.

Hoala needs about $300,000 more "to do everything we want to do at the new campus." However, construction will start in two months and be completed in time to allow about 50 students to start classes in August at the 2-acre site on Lehua Street, the director of development, Aneita Ahuna, said last week.

"We were aiming for $650,000, and we’ll have to consider things like whether or not to put a lanai around the classrooms," Ahuna said. "We’ll be fund-raising and looking for grants and looking for volunteers to do some of the work, but we’re going with the minimum so we can have the junior high and high school kids there next school year."

Founded in 1986 by Roman Catholic nun Joan Madden, Hoala is a nondenominational school with about 140 students from kindergarten through 12th grade that emphasizes character education.

Classes for grades 6 through 12 are held in seven classrooms and an office at the Wahiawa Hongwanji on California Avenue. Students in kindergarten through grade 5 use four classrooms at the former Wahiawa YMCA on Kilani Avenue, where the lease ends this spring.

When Phase I of the campus is complete, younger students will move to the Hongwanji site.

The initial phase includes a classroom building, moving a portable room to the site and renovating existing buildings. A second phase of construction is to occur later.

Parents are pleased because the new campus ensures the school’s continued existence, said Gail Nowicki, president of the school’s Parent Teacher Student Organization.

"A lot of people were concerned in the past that it wouldn’t be permanent, and if you’re in a temporary facility it’s hard to invest in it," Nowicki said. "This will also let the school approach full enrollment, which would be 20 students in a class with one class for each grade. (Madden) doesn’t want the school to be big. Her philosophy fits a small school."

At Hoala, she said, character education means teaching virtues such as honesty and responsibility. Students learn that actions have consequences. They know from the start what’s expected of them, and they set the penalties.

For her sons, sixth-grader Max and fourth-grader Jake, misbehaving means not being allowed to use the computer at home, she said.

"Especially nowadays, it’s valuable. (Madden) was ahead of her time when she developed this program," Nowicki said. "The new campus is like a validation of what the school has been doing the last 15 years. It’s pretty remarkable to have a school get a permanent site when it’s been open for such a short time."

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