George Paul Cooke (grandson of missionaries Amos Starr and Juliette Montague Cooke, son of Charles Montague Cooke and Anna Charlotte (Rice) Cooke) and his wife Sophie Boyd Judd (granddaughter of missionaries Gerrit Parmele Judd and Laura Fish Judd, daughter of Albert Francis Judd and Agnes Hall Judd) started Hanahauʻoli School.
Hanahauʻoli (happy, joyous work) was a dream realized for George and Sophie Cooke in 1918, for their six children and those of many of their friend (it started with 16 children from ages 6 to 11 years old.)
It was a small school, from kindergarten through sixth grade where all the children cooperated as in a large family; it’s in the same location on the corner of Nowewehi (now Nehoa) and Makiki street.
Two small buildings surrounded by a lawn dotted with kiawe trees, a jungle gym and working gardens were the backdrop for shop, art, French and music, in addition to the more ‘traditional’ subjects.
An old bronze hand bell is rung to start and end the day. (The first bell was bought in 1914 by Sophie and her mother in Florence, Italy. The bell was first used to call the Cooke children from their play at Molokai Ranch.)
There long-held traditions (events and ‘rituals,’) most from the earliest days of the school, that help to build a strong social foundation for children who learn what it means to plan and look forward to experiences that have held meaning for generations.
These include, Makahiki, a celebration of thanksgiving; the Holiday Program and tree cutting; the 6th grade odyssey that includes stepping stone making; oratories and Olympics; morning flag; the Head of School handshaking at the end of the day and the slipper toss.
Makahiki started in 1932; the children were studying ancient Hawaiians and making Kapas (that they wore for the first time at Makahiki.) In addition, there were games in the school courtyard.
The first stepping stone day was in 1926; shop teacher, Mrs AA Wilson initially used wood for the frames to make the Stepping Stone, but now they use Styrofoam – students carve their designs, representing their personal “enthusiasms” and memories.
Slipper toss, started in the 1990s, is held on the last day of school every year in the courtyard to wish everyone a good summer. (“In case someone has the same slipper as you and for safety we only throw one slipper.”)
Former Principal Mary Ray Pohl Kahanamoku began Birthday Books (“it’s a way to celebrate a child’s birthday and at the same time to give a book to the Hanahauʻoli Library. A student gets to choose a book, then they make a fancy bookplate and put it in the book.”)
The Childrens’ Fair started as Hanahauʻoli Festival (it began 1920s.) In the beginning, the children did all the work, children made all the crafts they sold at the fairs (the 1933 fair raised $21.80 for the school.) Now there are “rides and games and lots more things, we have crafts that children can make at the fair to take home.”
Tree cutting got started because children at Hanahauʻoli used to get their Christmas trees from the Territorial Nursery in Makiki Valley. Later, they planted a Norfolk pine tree by the courtyard and when it got big enough they cut it down but left part of the trunk so another tree can grow for another Christmas. (They soon began growing more trees for future supply.)
Oratories started in 1963. “They use to tell stories and poems now they only tell Greek myths. … 6th graders get to choose which myth they want to present. They present their myths in the music room and people come in small groups to watch them.”
Graduation started in 1920 at the pavilion (back in 1918, only two students would be graduating.) Graduates got orange and white crepe paper lei they had to make themselves; now they’re made of orange and white ribbon.
Still a small school for 208-children from Junior Kindergarten through 6th grade, children are now in multi-age classes that acknowledge individual growth and developmental readiness.
Small wood frame buildings that opened out to play areas are now state of the art classrooms with 21st century technology built in, yet they still open to outdoor work and play areas that honor Hawai`i climate and complement project-based programs.
The 2.5-acre campus has facilities including classrooms for JK and 6th grade and multiage classrooms with homegroup learning spaces for K/1, 2/3 and 4/5; classrooms for each of 5 specialty areas, a library containing 15,000-volumes, Gym, playing field with climbing structure and outdoor hard court surface area.
Similar to the early days, there is a low faculty-student ratio and the curriculum remains true to the belief that disciplines are not separate and that learning integrates school life with the home and world. And, the traditions, events and ‘rituals’ continue. (Lots of information here is from Hanahauʻoli, including quotes from former students.)