Hawaiian Immersion Charter School to Relocate

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Keaukaha Elementary School. DOE photo.

First launched at Hilo’s Keaukaha Elementary in 1987, Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo Hawaiian Immersion Charter School must move to another location at the end of the school year in June 2017.

The program will move from the site it has resided at for three decades after years of waning support from the state Department of Education for continued access to classroom facilities.

To mark the relocation, school staff, students, parents and members of the ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi and Keaukaha community will gather at Keaukaha Elementary School at 11 a.m. on Thursday, June 1, to commemorate Keaukahaʻs role in the revitalization of Hawaiian language and the creation of Hawaiian language immersion schools.


The ceremony will highlight the history and resilience of the Hawaiian language community and the many individuals that have been an integral part of making the Hawaiian language accessible to current and future generations.

“We are saddened to see the waning support from the Hawai‘i Department of Education for continued access to classroom facilities for Hawaiian immersion schools,” said Olani Lilly, principal of Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo Hawaiian Immersion Charter School.

“We understand the needs of Keaukaha Elementary School and have made every accommodation asked for to keep our children at Keaukaha until our new location is built,” she said. “Unfortunately, we now have to move to temporary facilities.”


Of the current enrollment, 24% of the students and 40% of the staff reside in Keaukaha. The remaining 48% who do not reside in the Keaukaha Elementary School district have the same genealogical connection to Keaukaha as the students receiving a district exception at KES, according to a press release sent on behalf of the immersion school.

Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo will move to its temporary location at University of Hawai‘i’s Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resource Center at Keaukaha.

The school is in the process of securing access from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to the land for its future school at Honohononui. The land for the future K-12 school was donated by Kamehameha Schools.


Keaukaha Elementary is located at 240 Desha Ave. in Hilo.

About Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo Hawaiian Immersion Charter School
Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo Hawaiian Immersion Charter School, the only Hawai‘i language immersion school in the Waiakea-Hilo District, is a Hawaiian language immersion pre-K-12 learning community where haumāna and their families are safe, nurtured and challenged. Using Keaukaha as our learning laboratory, haumāna develop environmental literacy skills and a deep connection and understanding of place that will allow them to enrich their communities and take positions of responsibility beyond the boundaries of the school.

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