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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Kapolei to get private school

By Jennifer Hiller
Advertiser Education Writer

Mark it as another first for the "Second City" of Kapolei: a private school to help families dodge the long, slow commute to Honolulu.

Island Pacific Academy, a new co-ed, nondenominational school that's been years in the planning, will break ground next month and open to students in September.

School officials are hoping that the 300,000 people living in Central and Leeward O'ahu, especially young families who have moved there to find more affordable housing, will provide a market for a college prep school.

"It's kind of a dream come true," said Larry Caster, who left Campbell Estate to help develop the new school and is its executive director. "There's a lot of young families and a lot of kids in the area. People have less and less time to be in a car."

Island Pacific will be next to the Kapolei Library in the heart of what planners expect to be the downtown area. Construction will start in January.

Although the school will eventually expand through the 12th grade, it will enroll only students in pre-kindergarten through seventh grade in its opening year.

As the first class of seventh-graders moves through school, grades will be added and the campus will add a second 55,000-square-foot building, Caster said.

The goal is a 600-student campus.

Island Pacific will be the first U.S. school associated with Academex Systems, a network of private schools in Canada.

Headmaster Dan White, the former headmaster of Seabury Hall on Maui and Sacramento Country Day School in California, said the school will focus on character education as well as academics.

White said the only influence that Academex Systems will have on the new campus is that all of its affiliated schools use the International Baccalaureate Program, a rigorous pre-university course of study for middle school and high school students.

Mid Pacific Institute is the only school in the state affiliated with that program now.

Kapolei is one of the state's fastest-growing areas. Housing development has outpaced school construction in parts of Central and Leeward O'ahu, causing several public schools to move to multi-track schedules.