Keaoakea STEAM Learning Center doors open

  • Gov. Ige, his wife, Dawn, Rep. Evans, Sen. Inouye and Waimea Middle School students help plant a symbolic ohia tree. (

  • Kahu Billy Mitchell leads the blessing and maile lei untying ceremony with Gov. Ige, Sen. Inouye, Rep. Evans and students marking the official opening of the new Waimea Middle School STEAM building.

Hundreds of people attended Waimea Middle School’s dedication ceremony last Monday to open the long-awaited 9-classroom STEAM Learning Center that now houses science, technology, engineering, arts/aina and math classes for nearly 250 students. It was announced that morning that the building’s official name is Keaoakea, meaning a place of expansive knowledge or light.

The dedication also incorporated traditional Hawaiian protocol chants, an oki piko ceremony and addresses given by Gov. David Ige, State Senator Lorraine Inouye, State Representative Cindy Evans and PWO Navigator Chadd Paishon, followed by a formal maile and kukui lei untying and the planting of an ohia tree. Another highlight was students who surrounded the crowd with thousands of feet of hand-braided cordage to symbolize binding together the strengths of each and every contributor to the project that began more than a decade ago.

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