In the late 1700’s King Kamehameha instructed his people near Hilo to plant kalo to feed his warriors upon their arrival to the area. The residents came together and planted a large field of kalo in one day. Kamehameha named the area Ha‘aheo, meaning proud, to honor their work. From the land growing kalo, then later sugar cane and various agriculture, and now it is a residential area that continues to support a proud and hardworking community.
Ha‘aheo Elementary is located on the former kalo field overlooking Hilo Bay for the past 131 years. Founded in 1888 to educate the children of the sugar plantation workers, Ha‘aheo serves students from kindergarten through the 6th grade. Our school mission is to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment where high quality, relevant and engaging instruction will prepare students for opportunities in the future. In the school year 2015-2016, Ha’aheo underwent a self-study and were visited by the Accrediting Commission for Schools - Western Association of Schools and Colleges and became accredited for 6 years until the year 2022 with a successful one-day mid-cycle visit in the 2018-2019 school year.
According to legend, Ha‘aheo was named because Kamehameha the Great once asked the people who lived here to grow huge amounts of taro to feed his army. He watched the people toil until the monumental task was completed, then ascended the hillside where our school now stands. He told the people this:
"Ha‘aheo wau i ka ‘oukou hana, a i kapa ‘ia keia wahi ‘o Ha‘aheo"
(I am proud of your work! This place I name Ha‘aheo, pride)"
Ha‘aheo School was established on March 5, 1888 to serve the children of sugar cane plantation workers in Wainaku. Reports indicate that 30 students were enrolled that first day, and they were taught by Ms. Helen Severence, Ha‘aheo’s first teacher and administrator. Ms. Severence commuted from Hilo every day on horseback. It wasn't until 1925 that there were enough students to warrant one class per grade level.