In 1975, seven women decided that Kaua`i needed a top quality, independent school as an alternative to the public system; thereupon, Island School was born, January 27th, 1977. It started with 12 students in grades kindergarten through eight and grew to 22 students by May. The next year, grade nine was added pursuant to establishing a high school. Grades ten, eleven, and twelve were added in the following three years. By then, the total enrollment had risen to 68. Eight students were graduated during the three-year period, 1981 to 1983; however, the time was not right for a high school and it was discontinued in the fall of 1983. From then until 1996, grades kindergarten through eight comprised Island School’s offerings, with the number of students increasing yearly.
KEALIA TO PUHI
For the first 14 years, the campus was located at Kealia, on the east side of the island, in an old plantation store built in 1919. In 1989, the Board of Directors entered into discussions with American Factors, Inc., (AMFAC) about obtaining land for a new campus. The company agreed to donate 10 acres in Puhi, behind Kaua`i Community College, the present location of Island School. Construction of the current pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade classrooms took place the following year. Also, Hawaiian Dredging donated two large buildings. These were reconfigured into the current Administration Building and Main Hall. Then three portable classrooms were transported from Kealia. The new campus opened in September, 1991. The enrollment was 123 students.
On September 11, 1992, Hurricane Iniki hit. The three portables brought from Kealia were demolished, and roofs of other buildings were either entirely gone or severely damaged. Eleven days after the hurricane, Island School reopened. Grades kindergarten through three remained at Puhi; grades four through eight used facilities generously made available at Kahili Adventist School. By early December, repairs were far enough along to permit students at Kahili to return to Puhi. In March, through the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), the unit now known as Brown Hall had been moved to its present location (where the portables had stood) and officially opened. At the same time, construction of three new classrooms for grades six through eight was underway. By the fall of 1993, all was again in order, with old facilities repaired and new ones completed.
HIGH SCHOOL REBORN
Then came a capital campaign and a substantial gift from the Weinberg Foundation. The Weinberg Enrichment Center was constructed in 1995-96. This same year, the Board of Directors voted to restart the high school. The ninth grade was added in 1996-97 and tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades respectively each year after that. In 1998, Purdy Hall was constructed. The Board of Directors again entered into discussions with AMFAC, this time about land immediately adjacent to the campus. This led to the purchase of twenty additional acres in the spring of 2000; half of this acreage has become soccer fields and a grass track. Island School began graduating students again in 2000.
Island School students have been accepted at universities and colleges all across the United States, the United Kingdom and here in Hawai’i. Some of them are: Art Institute of California, Babson College, Biola University, Bodoin College, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Chaminade University, Chapman University, Colorado College, Concordia University, Creighton University, Dixie State University, Duke University, Gettysberg College, Grove City College, Georgetown University, Gonzaga University, Hampshire College, Hawai‘i Pacific University, Ithaca College, Lewis and Clark College, Linfield College, Loyola Marymount University, Macalester College, Mary Washington College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Menlo College, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Occidental College, Oberlin College, Oregon State University, Pacific Lutheran University, Pepperdine University, Point Loma College, Pomona College, Puget Sound University, Purdue University, Reed College, Rochester Institute of Technology, San Diego State University, San Franciso State University, Santa Clara University, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Scripps College, Seattle University, Sierra Nevada College, Southern Oregon University, Stanford University, Universal Technical Institute, University of Arts & Sciences, University of California, University of Denver, University of Chicago, University of Essex in Colchester, England, University of Hawai‘i, University of Chicago, University of Idaho, University of Louisville, University of Michigan, University of Mississippi, University of Nevada, University of North Carolina, University of Northern Colorado, University of Portland, University of Redlands, Virginia Polytechnic and State University, Western Washington University, Westmont College, Wheaton College, Whitman College, Whittier College, Wooster College and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.