In 1927, the Reverend Benjamin Parker School (originally called Kāneʻohe School) opened in Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu. It started as an elementary and intermediate school, grades 1-8.
Over the years, it expanded in size and grades taught; in 1937 it became an elementary and high school, grades 1-12. In 1940, Benjamin Parker School was a founding member of the Rural O‘ahu Interscholastic Association (ROIA – with Kahuku, Leilehua, Waialua and Waipahu.)
That group later grew into the O‘ahu Interscholastic Association (OIA sports league.) Benjamin Parker was ROIA football champion in 1945.
Parker began bursting at the seams … “Congestion and inadequate accommodations at Benjamin Parker School in Kaneohe, was disclosed Thursday in a letter to the Mayor and board of supervisors by Joseph T Ferreira, of the department of public instruction, who has asked for the installation of three Quonset huts to relieve the conditions.”
“Maximum accommodations at the school, Mr Ferreira told the Advertiser yesterday, are for 940 pupils. The present enrollment is 1,065.”
“The school has 17 classrooms, all filled, and in addition uses four basement rooms and two Quonset huts for classroom purposes.” In addition, 2-classes were held at Luluku Japanese School, 1-class was at Windward Community Assn, 1-class in the Methodist Church, 1-class in the school auditorium and another in the school library. (Advertiser, October 3, 1947)
Ground was broken in 1949 for a new windward school. On “January 2, 1951, Principal Clinton Kanahele and his 700 students of Benjamin Parker Elementary and High School made their move to the new Benjamin Parker Annex on Kāne‘ohe Bay Drive.”
“During the first year of operation, approximately 750-students enrolled in grades 7-12. A library, an office and four more classrooms were under construction.” (Star Bulletin)
“At the start of the 1951-1952 school year, the name changed to James B Castle High and Intermediate School. In June, 1952, 108-seniors made up the first graduating class of the James B Castle Intermediate and High School. (In 1965, Castle became a high school servicing grades 9-12. Grades 7-8 were then served at King Intermediate School.) (Allen)
(When Castle High and Intermediate started, the old Parker School reverted to an elementary school, serving grades K – 6. A fire destroyed portions of the school and it was reconstructed in 1973. (DOE))
Parker School was named after American Protestant missionary Benjamin Wyman Parker. When the Mission Station first opened in 1835, “The high Chiefess Liliha had located her ‘New Teachers,’ as she called them, on this bluff overlooking a beautiful bay.”
The school was initially in a grass hut. Later, they moved into a stone mission house provided again by Liliha, a quarter mile inland.
“The locality was called ‘Aipa‘akai,’ literally an invitation to eat salt. Here they began the work of a lifetime. The Hawaiians from Waimanalo, one extreme, to Kualoa, the other extreme of the district, numbered about 10,000.”
“The barrier of language was soon removed as they learned to speak the Hawaiian language; and within a few weeks (Parker) preached his first sermon to his people.” (The Friend May, 1933)
The original Benjamin Parker School that started in 1927 was on land donated by the Parker family. The second Parker School (now Castle High School) is on land donated by the Castle family.
Hawai‘i-born James Bicknell Castle was son of American Protestant Missionary Samuel Northrop Castle (also founder of Castle and Cooke.) “Not satisfied with the mere amassing of wealth, Mr. Castle invariable turned over properties as soon as they were brought to the point of financial stability, and launched new enterprises.”
Castle expanded Castle & Cooke in sugar and rail and is credited with taking control of the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company from Claus Spreckels in 1898. He bought large amounts of land, such as Kaneohe Ranch.
Today, James B Castle High has over 1,550 students, the largest of four high schools on the Windward side (Castle, Kailua, Kalaheo and Kahuku.) Rev. Benjamin Parker Elementary School has 336 students in grades PK and K-6.