Educators Suggest Uniforms to Open New High School in Kihei


Hawaii state educators have a multi-million-dollar new high school in Kihei that they can't open for students, so they are quite perturbed.

Citing student pedestrian safety concerns with a new highway roundabout right next to the school, the County of Maui refuses to issue a permit for occupancy. So state Department of Education (DOE) officials are tossing out ideas.

"What we propose is mandatory school uniforms for every student, at least while we try to figure out the at-grade crossing thingy," said Patrick Pakula, spokesman for the state DOE. "They will be designed specifically to enhance safety through the intersection on Piilani Highway."

Pakula showed Maui Insight some of the concepts so far, and it just appears like state educators want students at the new Kulanihakoi High School to dress like orange safety cones.

State DOE officials have their own spin.

"We think they can be designed with dignity, and to serve the dual purpose of keeping students safe from the thousands upon thousands of cars that speed by there every day, while at the same time honoring one of the most-popular colors in Hawaiian culture."

In Hawaiian lore, the orange in rainbows represents Pele, a god with powers in focus and energy, with an element of fire. "See? Orange means focus for the drivers, and energy for the students to cross as swiftly as possible so traffic does not back up to Wailea like it does now," Pakula said.

Still, Hawaiian culture experts question the selection.

"Orange? Why would Pele have interest in a highway crossing matter?" said Ivan Moomeheu of the Maui History association. "Pele is the volcano deity in Hawaiian, the god who created the volcanic landscapes. Identifying Pele with a highway roundabout just seems weird."

Local high school students, who are attending classes temporarily at a middle school campus, are quite skeptical of the cone ideas.

JUST AN IDEA: Artist's rendering of a school uniform concept for the new high school that state officials want opened soon in Kihei.

"No way you're getting me into one of those things," said Sarah Brown, 13, of Kihei. "I mean, knee-length skirts are sooo Boomer."

"Fer sher, the color is hideous! Definitely not fire," said Amber Jennings, also 13, of north Kihei, referring a Gen Z term for "radical!"

The DOE long ago promised an at-grade pedestrian crossing, either an overpass or underpass, to address the student pedestrian safety issue with the new campus. However, somewhere along the line during construction of the $200 million project, they forgot.

"Our bad," Pakula said, "but we are aware and we are working on it."

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