History of ‘Iolani School

‘Iolani's history is closely interwoven with the story of Hawai‘i.

In 1862, following a plea from King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma to the Church of England, the first Anglican bishop and priests arrived to establish the Diocese of Honolulu. By 1863, Father William R. Scott had secured property and begun Luaehu School in Lahaina, Maui. This was the beginning of the present 'Iolani School.

When Father Scott returned to England due to illness, Bishop Staley sent Father George Mason to relieve him. Father Mason continued to operate the school which his predecessor had founded. In 1870 when Bishop Staley left Honolulu, Father Mason was called back to the capital city. It was at this time that the school was transferred to Honolulu. In the same year, Queen Emma bestowed on the school the name "'Iolani," or Heavenly Bird.

When the revolution put an end to the monarchy and Hawaii was finally annexed by the United States, control of the Diocese of Honolulu passed into the hands of the Episcopal Church. 'Iolani moved from its Nu'uanu Valley home to the Cathedral, where it remained until 1927, when it returned to Nu'uanu. 'Iolani continued to function there until 1953, when it moved to the present Ala Wai property.

'Iolani's growth since 1953 has been phenomenal. Starting with a few wartime wooden buildings, the school has gradually built a multi-million dollar plant provided with the latest equipment. From a small mission school for young men, founded during the reign of King Kamehameha IV, 'Iolani has grown into one of the largest independent schools in the nation. In the fall of 1979, girls were admitted to 'Iolani for the first time.

More than eighteen hundred students of diverse racial and religious heritage currently attend the school's 13 grades (K-12). The students work through a curriculum which prepares them for college, but the school also strives through its religious, athletic and extracurricular programs to intensify and broaden the capacities of its students that they may enter the world not only with trained minds, but also with a sense of personal worth and responsibility to mankind.

The sustaining heart of a school is its faculty. 'Iolani's teachers come from across the country and other parts of the world; they bring a wealth of experience and background to their students. They form a disparate group but one that is united by a common dedication to excellence in education and by a love of children.

Although 'Iolani is related by tradition to the Episcopal Church, the school accepts boys and girls of any religious background. The requirements for admission are scholastic ability, good character, and the promise of leadership.