WAIKOLOA VILLAGE — Students on Monday blessed with ti leaf and salt water the four corners of the site of a new creative arts, science and technology building at Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School in South Kohala.
“We have been waiting 20 years for this day,” said Principal Kris Kosa-Correia. “Seven years ago, parents and community members started a letter writing campaign to the Legislature.”
Monday’s groundbreaking being the culmination of that effort.
Representatives from the school, state Department of Education, WRN Studio design team and Nan Inc. were on hand to turn over the ceremonial shovel of dirt.
The new two-story building (Building J) will include classrooms, science labs and art studios. A one-story annex will provide office space for counseling spaces, conference room and faculty work room. It covers a footprint of about 9,135 square feet on the southwest corner of the campus.
The $13 million project is designed to serve as a central gathering area and 21st-century learning space for students in sixth to eighth grades. It will house two science classrooms, an art classroom, a special education classroom and four additional classrooms.
It is slated to open for the 2020-21 school year.
“We are beyond capacity,” said Kosa-Correia. “This building is just getting teachers out of non-teaching structures.”
During the 2016-17 school year, Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School had an enrollment of 792, according to a report from the Department of Education, an increase of about 57 percent from a decade earlier.
And it’s continued to rise. For the 2017-18 school year, enrollment rose to 817 and by the opening of the 2018-19 academic year, Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School had 833 students on its roster.
Complex Area Superintendent Art Souza was principal at the school when the concept of the building was first envisioned.
“This is the culmination of a lot of vision and dreaming, hoping and the community coming together, a very special thing,” said Souza.