HIDOE News Release: BOE approves renaming of Central Middle to honor Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani – Downtown Honolulu school renamed Princess Ruth Keanolani Kanāhoahoa Keʻelikōlani Middle SchoolPosted on Sep 17, 2021 in Latest Department News, Newsroom
HONOLULU — The Hawaiʻi State Board of Education (BOE) approved the restoration of Central Middle School to its former name honoring Princess Ruth Keanolani Kanāhoahoa Keʻelikōlani. The change is effective immediately.
The late Princess Keʻelikōlani, a high-ranking aliʻi and a descendant of royal bloodlines on both sides of her family, played a major role in expanding access to education in Hawaiʻi. The historic school near downtown Honolulu was constructed in 1926 on the site of Keōua Hale, Keʻelikōlani’s grand royal palace, and renamed soon after in 1927 as Central Intermediate School.
“For our students, it’s a great opportunity to show our love, admiration and respect in restoring the name of Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani to our school,” said Principal Joe Passantino. “This ties into the Nā Hopena Aʻo foundation of creating a sense of belonging for our students, an identity that can give them the strength and confidence to carry forth Princess Ruth’s legacy.”
The renaming process was launched in 2019 and steered by an inclusive committee of teachers, librarians, alumni, students, historians and community members. Progress was briefly paused in 2020 by COVID-19, but work resumed virtually, culminating with the Board approval.
“There was a lot of work, time and dedication involved and the entire committee was very excited for this day,” said Noelani Takayesu, the school’s student services coordinator. “It really acknowledges and perpetuates the Hawaiian culture, which is vitally important to our students and our community.”
The wealthiest woman across Hawaiʻi of her time (1826-1883), Princess Keʻelikōlani willed the majority of her vast estates to her cousin, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. These lands would later establish the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate and be dedicated to the development of Kamehameha Schools.
Moving forward, work will be scheduled to replace campus signage and update school materials, including its website and uniforms. A future outdoor mural is planned on the campus to honor Princess Keʻelikōlani.
Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani Middle School currently serves 336 students in grades six through eight. For more information about the school and its history, see https://bit.ly/PrincessRuth and its website at https://www.cmshnl.org.