For a while, other than church-related schools, if a Big Island youngster wanted to pursue his education beyond the eighth grade, he had to travel to O‘ahu. There he would board and go to school. Then, “One of the largest gatherings that ever attended a mass meeting in Hilo was present at Fireman’s Hall Thursday night to express to Superintendent of Public Instruction WH Babbitt their views regarding a high school site and other school matters.” “The first was the necessity for a high school in Hilo and the second the selection of the Riverside lot as the high school site. (It) passed without opposition …”
School authorities hesitated but finally agreed to start a high school at Hilo Union School in September, 1905; 25 ninth-grade students attended high school at Hilo Union School. In 1907, the school moved to the Riverside School. It was then called Hilo Junior High School. Hilo High’s first graduating class consisted of seven students in 1909: Richard Kekoa, Amy Williams, Eliza Desha, Frank Arakawa, John Kennedy, Annie Napier and Herbert Westerbelt. Finally in 1922, Hilo Junior High School moved up Waianuenue Avenue and renamed to the permanent and present Hilo High Campus.