Kamehameha approaches 125 years: A legacy’s beginnings


Cadet officers posing on steps for a yearbook picture in 1927. On Dec. 19, 2011, Kamehameha Schools will kick off it’s 125-year anniversary year with students engaged in commemorative projects across all three campuses.

By Kalani Ruidas, Features co-editor

 Dec. 19, 2011, will mark the kickoff of the 125-year anniversary of the founding of Kamehameha Schools. To celebrate, Ka Leo O Nā Koa will feature a quarterly installment of school-related facts and history in their print edition. The feature from our 9/23/11 edition is being re-run here for our online followers.

In this first part, we take a look at the school’s beginnings.

Q. When and where was the original Kamehameha School for Boys located?

A. The school for boys opened in 1887 on Oʻahu at Pālama. The first girls school was opened in 1894. It wasn’t until 1965 that the boys and girls schools combined into the Kamehameha Schools.

Q. How many students were at the school on the first day in 1887?

A. 40 Hawaiian men.

Q. What time did the day begin?

A. 5:30 AM. The girls school only had one day off per month.

Q. What kinds of classes did they have?

A. The core classes were arithmetic, algebra, geometry, English, geography, penmanship, business, health, book-keeping and mechanical drawing.

Q. What other sorts of things did they study?

A. Their time was also dedicated to devotional and vocational studies such as wood turning, carpentry, pattern making, blacksmithing, tailoring, horseshoeing and dairy farming. Military disciplines were also a major part of the boys’ lives. Uldrick Thompson, principal of Kamehameha from1898-1901, said, “The curriculum emphasized industrial training considered necessary for a Hawaiian to achieve personal and social success.”

Q. What did girls study?

A. Along with the standard curriculum, there were sewing, cooking, laundering, nursing and hospital practice classes. Girls 13 and older learned how to be homemakers and mothers.

Q. What were their uniforms like?

A. The first uniforms were designed by the first principal, Reverend William Brewster Oleson. Students wore neat and pressed shirts and pants

Q. Who chose the school colors?

A. Rev. Oleson and the school’s music teacher, Mr. Theodore Richards, wrote Sons of Hawaiʻi, the school song. The cadet officers below would  have already been singing the alma mater in 1927.