Kaimuki Christian To Honor First Principal

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - February 03, 2010
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Helen McKenzie

Kaimuki Christian School celebrates its 40th anniversary by honoring its very first principal, Helen McKenzie, at a dinner party from 5:30 to 9 p.m. this Saturday at Dole Cannery. The evening features a buffet, entertainment, reflections on the past and a presentation on the upcoming master plan for the block, including the launch of a high school in 2012.

Tickets cost $50 for adults and $20 for children age 5 to 12. For information, call 732-1781 or log on to http://www.kcs40th.org or kaimukichristianschool.org.

McKenzie, a Palolo resident and Waipahu High School graduate, taught elementary students at St. Paul’s Lutheran School before she became Kaimuki Christian’s first principal in 1968.

“She was very organized - she had a mental file cabinet,” said fourth-grade teacher Steven Kaji.

“She loved every student. She dealt with faculty and students strictly but with a lot of love.”

“She gave the school its DNA,“added the school’s current principal, Mark Gallagher.

And he isn’t just saying that because McKenzie is his mother-in-law (he is married to her daughter Lora, who is a KSC graduate. The Gallaghers’ daughter, McKenzie, named after her grandmother, also attends KSC as a sixth-grader. Her other son and daughter and her two other grandchildren are all KSC graduates.)

“Nurturing is valued,” he continued.“Christian values are lifted up as worthy goals where academics are also considered important. She set the spirit for the mission of the school to see each child reach his or her God-intended potential.”

During her nearly 30-year career with the school, McKenzie witnessed the preK through sixth-grade facility grow to include a middle school, and now she’s looking forward to the opening of a new chapter.

“I never expected (the school) would be going to the high school level because there are so many other high schools around,“she said.“For what Kaimuki Christian School and Church have been doing, this is something that is very satisfying to know that a small school can progress into high school. That’s remarkable.”

Kaimuki Christian School presently has 300 students in preschool through grade 8. When the high school opens, pre-K and elementary classrooms will be moved into a newly constructed building, and the older students will have classes in the two-story building where the lower grades are now until finances become available to build a parking facility, gym and permanent high school building.

“Our current sixth-grade class will be the first graduating class,” said vice principal Ulu Seria, who has been with the school for seven years.

High school classes will have 20 students per grade, she noted, the same size as those in the middle school.

“For those who like the extension of the family, the smaller environment, we will be focused on service to community to have our students trained to be leaders in their community when they graduate,” she added.

Gallagher, who served as administrator for the school for two years before he replaced McKenzie as principal in 1999, added:“Families are telling their family, friends and co-workers that they’ve seen something positive in their child’s life.”

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