Mid-Pacific traces its beginnings to 1864; the present school was established in 1908 with the merger of Kawaiahaʻo Seminary (1864) and Mills School for Boys (1892.)
In 1863, Mr. and Mrs. Luther Gulick started a boarding school for girls in Kaʻū. This was continued at Waiohinu for two years, but was moved to Oʻahu.
The Gulicks’ school was established “to teach the principles of Christianity, domestic science, and the ways and usages of western civilization.”
Mrs. Gulick felt that her opportunity had come. No one else could begin the school. She had been longing for more missionary work to do, and now the door was open. She writes: “Opened school this morning with eight scholars.” (The Friend)
Mrs. Gulick’s school was the humble beginning of Kawaiahaʻo Seminary. From month-to-month the numbers increased, boarders were received and aid in teaching was rendered by neighbors.
The school continued to grow, when, in 1867, the need for permanent help became imperative and Miss Lydia Bingham (daughter of Hiram Bingham – and my great-great-great Aunt) was invited to become its Principal.
“Every Sunday one of the teachers accompanied the Girls to Kawaiahaʻo Church diagonally across the street to the morning service.” (Sutherland Journal)
Lydia Bingham left the school in 1873 when she married Reverend Titus Coan of Hilo. She was followed by her sister, Miss Lizzie Bingham, who was principal for nearly seven years.
Kawaiahaʻo Seminary continued to grow over the years and the student body was drawn from all over the islands and from all racial groups; some of the scholars included members of the royal family. (Attendance averaged over a hundred per year, with the largest number of pupils appears to have been in 1889, when 144 names were on the rolls.)
Then, in 1892, Mr. and Mrs. Francis Damon opened their home to six Chinese boys to teach them English and some of the fundamentals of Christianity (their home was on the edge of Honolulu’s Chinatown.)
Damon (fluent in Chinese) recognized the need for special educational opportunities for the young Chinese, who were barred from public schools because of their inability to speak English.
This new school was named Mills Institute (named after Samuel J Mills, a founder of the American Board of Foreign Missions.) Among the Chinese, it was known as Chum Chun Shu Shat (The Searching after Truth Institute.)
Later, because of growing enrollment by Japanese and Korean boys, courses in Japanese and Korean were added to the curriculum.
Kawaiahaʻo Seminary and Mills School had much in common – they were home schools; founded by missionary couples; and had boarding of students.
With these commonalities, in 1905, a merger of the two was suggested, forming a co-educational institution in the same facility.
In order to accommodate a combined school, the Hawaiian Board of Foreign Missions purchased the Kidwell estate, about 35-acres of land in Mānoa valley.
“The site forms an ideal location within one block of the Rapid Transit line. The ground commands a beautiful view of mountain and sea, and there is ample room for the agricultural features which have been planned. The land contains a fine spring of water yielding some 100,000 gallons a day, and is further supplied with the use of an auwai for part of the time.” (Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society)
Through gifts by GN Wilcox, JB Atherton and others, on May 31, 1906, a ceremony was held in Mānoa Valley for the new school campus – just above what is now the University of Hawaiʻi (the UH campus was not started in the Mānoa location until 1912.)
By 1908, the first building was completed and the school was officially operated as Mid-Pacific Institute, consisting of Kawaiahaʻo School for Girls and Damon School for Boys.
Initially, while the two schools moved to the same campus, they essentially went their separate ways there for years; they had different curricula, different academic standards and different policies.
Finally, in the fall of 1922, a new coeducational plan went into effect – likewise, ‘Mills’ and ‘Kawaiahaʻo’ were dropped and by June 1923, Mid-Pacific became the common, shared name.
In November 2003, the school decided to terminate its on-campus dormitory (which had existed since 1908).
Epiphany School, established in 1937 as a small mission school by the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, merged with Mid-Pacific Institute in 2004.
Mid-Pacific introduced a one-to-one all-school technology program designed to foster creativity, global awareness, critical thinking and collaboration.
During the 2012-2013 school year iPads were distributed to every student from grades 3-12; students in Kindergarten and grades 1-2 had access to iPad carts during the school day (the One-to-One program was covered in Mid-Pacific Institute’s Tuition and Fees.)
The image shows the existing Mid-Pacific Institute overlooking the beginning of the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa campus in 1912. In addition, I have added other related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.