Honokaa High & Intermediate ranks among Hawaii’s top 10 public schools

  • Children have been attending Honokaa High & Intermediate School since the late 1800s. It ranks No. 8 in the state in U.S. News & World Reports’ 2018 Best High Schools study. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)

HONOKAA — Out of 55 public high schools operated by the Hawaii Department of Education, Honokaa High &Intermediate School (HHIS) ranked number eight in the state, as announced recently in U.S. News &World Reports’ Best High Schools study.

HHIS was the only public school in the Big Island’s North Hawaii region to make the list.

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“We were super excited and proud,” HHIS Principal Rachelle Matsumura said. “We love it when we hear good news about what we’re doing that’s right. We’re proud of our school ohana.”

The 2018 Best High Schools rankings awarded gold, silver and bronze medals the top 5,948 U.S. public high schools out of more than 20,500 across the country. Six Hawaii schools received silver medals: Mililani High School, Kalani High School, President William McKinley High School, Moanalua High School and Leilehua High School on Oahu, and Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science Public Charter School in Pahoa on the Big Island.

HHIS was among four schools in the state to receive bronze medals. Others included Ke Kula ‘O ‘Ehunuikaimalino in Kealakekua, Lanai High and Elementary School and Pahoa High and Intermediate School. In addition, HHIS placed in the national rankings.

In a separate charter schools category, Kanu o ka Aina in Waimea placed in the top 10 with an 89 percent graduation rate.

Of their study body, 36 percent of HHIS’ 679 middle and high school students enrolled in the 2017-2018 school year took Advanced Placement (AP) course work and exams. The school has 50 percent male and 50 percent female students, and an average student-teacher ratio of 17 to 1. With an 84 percent graduation rate, 46 percent of all students are on the free lunch program and 54 percent are economically disadvantaged.

High school graduation requirements in Hawaii call for a minimum of 24 credits, including a half credit in modern Hawaii history and two credits in world language, fine arts, junior ROTC or career and technical education. High school students take the Smarter Balanced assessments in English language arts and math, according to the Hawaii DOE.

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“We’re trying to engage all learners from the very academic to the trade person to the career. We’ve brought on the early college program, and partnered with Hawaii Pacific University and Hawaii Community College. We also work with NHERC for opportunities for our students,” Matsumura said.

Established in 1889, HHIS is the only public, co-educational high school for students that live in Waimea, Waikoloa and Honokaa. Next year it will celebrate its 130th birthday.

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